President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that bans police from using chokeholds except when the lives of officers are in danger. The executive order is Trump's first step toward police reforms and comes weeks after the death of George Floyd in police custody that led to widespread protests across the United States.
The order will also leverage federal grant money to encourage the police department to set better standards when dealing with the public. However, it will be up to Congress to legislate more reforms. U.S. citizens and activists have been long calling for police reforms with an increasing number of incidents of police brutality in the nation.
Bad Cops to be Held Accountable
The executive order encourages better police practices and establishes a database for law enforcement misconduct. Under the new order, police departments will track officers who have been accused of using excessive force. However, it will be up to Congress to bring in more robust reforms within the police department. "Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting, fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for," Trump said before unveiling the executive order.
The executive order also directs the Justice Department to promote training among police officers for law enforcement while dealing with the homeless and those suffering from addiction. Trump said that the executive order will set new standards on the use of force which is "as high and as strong as there is on Earth". However, he didn't mention George Floyd or the relations between African-Americans and the police.
A Long Awaited Change
The reforms were long awaited and come amid increasing pressure and nationwide protests following the police brutality and deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks. Trump had initially threatened to use the army to curb the nationwide protests and drew criticism from both lawmakers and activists.
On Tuesday, Trump criticized former President Barrack Obama for not doing enough to bring in reforms during his tenure. He also said that the measures were to weed out the small number of bad policemen and claimed that the percentage was very low. "Nobody is more opposed to the small number of bad police officers – and you have them. They're very tiny. I use the word tiny, it's a very small percentage – but you have them," he said.
Trump's signing of the executive order might be cheered by some but others say a lot still needs to be done to address nationwide calls for ending police brutality. The executive order doesn't address a range of serious issues like racial profiling and ending "qualified immunity" for police officers.