On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order on police reform “to advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices that will build public trust and strengthen public safety.”
According to a White House press release, the order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to create a National Law Enforcement Accountability Database. All federal law enforcement agencies are required to participate in the database that will include “records of officer misconduct (including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct, and sustained complaints or records of disciplinary actions for serious misconduct), as well as commendations and awards.”
Biden’s order also mandates that all federal law enforcement agencies adopt body-worn camera policies. The policies must be made public and must include the “activation of cameras during activities like arrests and searches.” Federal agencies are also required to expeditiously release body-camera footage after incidents that involve “serious bodily injury or death.”
Additonally, the order bans the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized, and implements yearly “anti-bias training.”
“The EO requires development of an evidence-informed training module for law enforcement on implicit bias and avoiding improper profiling based on the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, limited English proficiency, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), or disability of individuals,” the statement added.
The order also restricts the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies, and requires new standards limiting officers’ use of force, as well as new standards for mandatory de-escalation, hiring and promotions, and accreditation.
Biden claimed that the order serves to “address profound fear, trauma, exhaustion, that particularly black Americans have experienced for generations.”
“Two summers ago, in the middle of the pandemic, we saw protests across the nation the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the 1960’s. They unified people of every race and generation,” Biden said, referencing the Black Lives Matter and “defund the police” movements that tore through cities across the United States in 2020.
“The message is clear: enough. Just enough. Look, almost a year later, a jury in Minnesota stepped up and they found the police officer guilty of murdering George Floyd, with officers and even a police chief taking the stand to testify against misconduct of their colleagues. I don’t know any good cop who likes a bad cop,” Biden said, adding that “such accountability is all too rare.”
Shortly after asserting that public trust is “the foundation of public safety,” Biden claimed that “black Americans wake up knowing they could lose their life in the course of just living their life today.”
Biden then criticized Republicans in the Senate for not passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to limit qualified immunity as a defense, direct the DOJ to create federal standards for law enforcement agencies and require police officers nationwide “to complete training on racial profiling [and] implicit bias.”