President Donald Trump signed an executive order on policing Tuesday amid increasing pressure and nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other African Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers.
In addtion, during the signing in the Rose Garden, Trump said that he had just met with the families of several recent victims of lethal police violence, adding, “All Americans mourn by your side. Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”
“I could never imagine your pain or the depth of your anguish, but I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people,” the president said.
Trump said that order will use grants to help departments meet certification standards on the use of force, create a national database on excessive force complaints, and encourage the involvement of mental health professionals when responding to nonviolent cases, like addiction, homelessness and mental illness.
The Executive Order would Prioritiez Grants to the Police Based on Meetin Certain Standards
The president also said the order would prioritize grants to police departments to certify that they meet certain standards, and those standards would include a ban on chokeholds except with an officer’s life is at risk.
The goal of the executive order is to take action without restricting the ability of police to do their jobs, a White House official said, claiming that Democrats are going too far with proposals that “would render police departments ineffective.”
Trump, who has struggled to provide a political or policy response in the weeks since Floyd’s death, did not address concerns raised by police reform advocates about racism in policing.
The White House official described Tuesday’s executive order as a “starting point,” telling NBC News that it was “as far as we can go at the executive level” and expressing skepticism that Congress would be able to act.
Attorney General William Bar, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents a number of Black families who’ve had loved ones die in encounters with police, also joined Trump in the Rose Garden.
“I am committed to working with Congress on additional measures,” Trump said Tuesday. “Hopefully they will all get together and come up with a solution that goes even beyond what we’re signing today.”
Democrats unveiled a sweeping policing overhaul bill earlier this month that would ban chokeholds like the kind that led to the death of Floyd and no-knock warrants, as was used before Taylor’s fatal shooting.
Senate Republicans, too, have been working on their own plan separate from the White House efforts, which Trump said could go “hand-in-hand” with his executive order.
Last week Senate Majority Leader McConnell tapped South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott — the only Black Republican in the Senate — to lead efforts on a police reform bill, but Republican leadership is expected to wait until after the July 4 recess to act on the measure.