President Biden signs executive order on police reform, advocates weigh in
DELAWARE – “Because I know that any given minute, if I look the wrong way or say the wrong thing a police may feel the need to use force against me,” Delaware ALCU Safe Justice Coordinator Haneef Salaam said.
That reality is what President Joe Biden is looking to change, signing an executive order he says will deliver the most significant police reform in decades.
“I don’t know any good cop that likes a bad cop. But for many people, including many families here, such accountability is all too rare,” President Biden said.
This move comes on the 2-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. The executive order is aimed at boosting police accountability and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Some of those safeguards set in place include banning chokeholds and restricting the use of no-knock warrants.
Over 100,000 federal law enforcement officers will be impacted by this order, directing all federal agencies to revise their use-of-force policies and creates a national registry of officer misconduct.
White House Officials say this move will ultimately increase the public’s trust in law enforcement. “Victims don’t report crimes if they don’t trust the police. Witnesses will not cooperate with investigations unless they trust the judicial system,” Deputy Assistant to the President for Racial Justice and Equity Chiraag Bains said.
“Police can’t solve crimes, they can’t clear homicides and punish people who’ve done wrong and deter future crime if they don’t have the cooperation of the community.”
President Biden said he would take action after the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act failed to pass the U.S. Senate. With signing Wednesday’s order, advocates say he made good on that commitment. White House officials and advocates also tell 47 ABC that this move not only honors the life of George Floyd, but is a step to make sure another life isn’t lost the same way.
The executive order also looks to be an incentive for state and local agencies to boost their policing efforts. Yet, those with the Delaware ACLU say there will be plenty of pushback from local law enforcement agencies. “Whenever there’s an attempt to create use of force policies or to create transparency and accountability amongst police departments there’s always fight back from polices unions and as well as law enforcement leadership,” Salaam said.
Advocates I spoke with say President Biden’s executive order doesn’t take the place of legislation. That’s something they’re pushing for in the first state but say that could be challenging. “I believe it’s somewhere around 60% of our state senators and representatives are either current or former law enforcement,” Salaam said. “So when you have that many of your state lawmakers who are connected to law enforcement they tend to appease the issues or see the side of law enforcement as opposed to civilians.”
White House officials say agencies who choose not to follow the order could potentially face consequences, including the justice department stepping in to do open investigations which could lead to federal consent decrees.
47 ABC did reach out to local law enforcement for comment but they did not get back to us.