Politics

Trump signs executive order aimed at reining in errant police

Advocates for reform say Trump ‘law and order’ approach does not go far enough as Democrats prepare broader legislation.

Calling for unity as legislators in Washington, DC debate police reform and cities across the country struggle to address anti-police protests, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on Tuesday that he said, “encourages police departments to adopt the highest professional standards”.

Trump’s order establishes financial incentives for police departments to adopt national best practices through credentials to be offered by independent qualifying bodies. It would restrict chokeholds of the kind that killed George Floyd on May 25 but still allow use when a police officer’s life is threatened.

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The order also establishes a Department of Justice database that will track police officers who are accused of using excessive force to prevent bad cops from hopping from town to town in law enforcement.

It would steer more federal funding to training for police departments in handling mental health, homelessness and addiction.

“What’s needed now is not more stoking of fear and division. We need to bring law enforcement and communities closer together, not to drive them apart,” Trump said.

Democrats in the House of Representatives and Republicans in the Senate are preparing competing packages of policing changes as US politicians seek to respond to mass demonstrations over the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans.

Trump took a political shot at Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying Biden had failed to address criminal justice reform as vice president during the Obama administration.

“Many of the same politicians now presenting themselves as the solution are the same ones who have failed for decades on schools, jobs, justice and crime,” Trump said, sounding a campaign theme.

Biden is casting the issue more broadly as revolving around “systemic racism” and tweeted a video clip of a conversation with a campaign field organiser.

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