President Trump on Tuesday met with families of black individuals who have died from police violence and then signed an executive order banning most chokeholds while establishing a database to track police officers who have used excessive force.
“Your loved ones will not have died in vain,” Trump said in a Rose Garden speech.
Trump stood alongside law enforcement officials at the speech and said reform is needed yet criticized efforts to defund the police. Prior to the speech, he met with the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Antwon Rose, Atatiana Jefferson, Michael Dean, Darius Tarver, Cameron Lamb and Everett Palmer.
“Many of these families lost their loved ones in deadly interactions with police,” Trump said. “To all the hurting families I want you to know [that] all Americans mourn by your side.”
Americans, he said, want to support police but also “believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency, and invest more resources in police training, recruiting and community engagement.”
“Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for,” Trump said. “We have to find common ground. But I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defend, dismantle and dissolve our police departments.”
“... Without police, there is chaos.Without law, there is anarchy,” Trump said. “And without safety, there is catastrophe. We need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.”
The executive order:
- Requires the Attorney General to allocate Department of Justice funding “only to those State and local law enforcement agencies” that have “appropriate credentials from a reputable independent credentialing body certified by the Attorney General.” Such credentialed bodies should address such topics as “policies and training regarding use–of-force and de-escalation techniques; performance management tools, such as early warning systems that help to identify officers who may require intervention; and best practices regarding community engagement.”
- Bans the use of chokeholds “except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.” Trump, in his speech, said chokeholds should be used only if “an officer’s life is at risk.”
- Requires the Attorney General to “create a database to coordinate the sharing of information” between law enforcement agencies about “instances of excessive use of force related to law enforcement matters.” The database “shall include a mechanism to track, as permissible, terminations or de-certifications of law enforcement officers, criminal convictions of law enforcement officers for on-duty conduct, and civil judgments against law enforcement officers for improper use of force.”
- Requires the Attorney General, in consultation with the secretary of Health and Human Services, to “identify and develop opportunities to train law enforcement officers” for interactions with individuals suffering from impaired mental health. Said Trump, “We will provide more resources for co-responders, such as social workers, who can help officers manage these complex encounters.”
The executive order says “some officers have misused their authority, challenging the trust of the American people, with tragic consequences for individual victims, their communities, and our Nation.”
“Particularly in African-American communities, we must redouble our efforts as a Nation to swiftly address instances of misconduct,” it says.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.