President Joe Biden is expected to issue an executive order on police reform within weeks, people familiar with the matter told Axios on Monday.
A draft of the order was leaked earlier this year revealing plans to make “significant changes” to qualified immunity, prompting criticism from law enforcement groups, including the National Association of Police Organizations.
“The threat of the elimination of qualified immunity has already caused decent, experienced officers and newly hired officers alike to seek other jobs. Police departments will be decimated, and it will be more difficult than it already is to recruit new officers,” the organization wrote in a letter to Biden’s domestic policy adviser, Susan Rice.
Meanwhile, civil rights activists have pushed for police officers to face increased accountability and have demanded the Biden administration act.
According to Axios, White House officials have spent more than 90 hours engaging with members of the civil rights community, congressional leaders, police unions and families of those killed by cops in an effort to find a balance.
“Being a cop today is a heck of a lot harder than it’s ever been,” Biden said. “The answer is not to abandon the streets. It’s not to choose between safety and equal justice.”
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said police officers’ goals remain the same: “To make the country safer for everybody without discrimination.”
“I hope that the executive order strikes a balance between the legitimate concerns of the civil rights community and the legitimate concerns of the law enforcement community,” Pasco said.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson called Biden’s upcoming executive order “a great thing” but urged Congress to act, arguing it “pales in its effectiveness to actual legislation.”
“We commend the administration for stepping in, but we implore the Senate to do its job and change policing in this country so that communities and police officers are safe, and so that bad actors are not a part of law enforcement culture,” he said.
Contrasting his Democrat colleagues’ support for the “defund the police” movement – including Vice President Kamala Harris – Biden called this week for officials to “fund the police.”
“Folks the answer is not to abandon the streets, it’s not to choose between safety and equal justice, and we should agree it’s not to defund the police, it’s to fund the police,” Biden said, as reported by The New York Post. “Fund them with the resources, training they need to protect our communities and themselves and restore trust among the police and the people.”