Trump Signs Executive Order on Police Reform: ‘Law and Order Must Be Restored’

June 16, 2020 Updated: June 16, 2020

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order on policing in an attempt to build trust between communities and law enforcement, following weeks of protests over the death of George Floyd.

The president delivered remarks in the White House’s Rose Garden and signed the order, titled, “Safe Policing for Safe Communities.”

“I strongly oppose” the “radical” effort to dismantle and disband police forces, Trump said at the signing event. He noted that crime levels are at historic lows across the United States.

However, the order will ensure that policing standards will be “high and strong,” adding that the vast majority of police officers are “great men and women,” Trump said Police officers do one of the “most difficult jobs on earth” and deserve “respect,” the president said, noting that law enforcement officials were shot during violent protests triggered by Floyd’s death

“Law and order must be restored nationwide,” the president said, adding that the penalty will be “very grave” for individuals who riot as well as engaging in looting, arson, and vandalism.

The order, according to a senior White House official on a call, has three main components including more certification and credential requirements for officers, information sharing on officials who have been subject to excessive use of force complaints, and co-responder programs that will send health professionals alongside officers during certain situations.

The package would create a database to track officers who have multiple instances of misconduct and would also use federal grants to incentivize departments to meet certain standards, according to a senior White House official in the call with reporters.

“There are a lot of great standards for use of force around the country,” an administration official said, adding that some police departments whose conduct sparked national unrest had “outdated” standards. The official named police departments in Baltimore, Minneapolis, and Ferguson.

The reform to send social workers on some calls would be geared toward homeless people and people with mental health and addiction problems.

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Police with riot shields advance to detain protesters for blocking traffic on a freeway during a protest over the police shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 13, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

An administration official said the database would be supported by police departments because “nobody hates bad cops more than good cops.”

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Tuesday that Trump is taking the action “to assure the American people that we’re listening.”

“We’re supporting law enforcement,” Pence said. “We’re not going to defund the police, quite the contrary. We’re going to find new resources to help departments obtain certifications to improve standards for the use of force, improve training on de-escalation, and that’s exactly what the American people want us to do.”

Last week, amid cries to “defund the police,” Trump reiterated several times that it won’t happen. However, he told Fox News on June 12 that he favors a ban on chokeholds in most circumstances.

“It would be I think a very good thing that, generally speaking, it should be ended,” he said.

Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody triggered sometimes violent demonstrations, riots, arson attacks, and shootings across the United States. Over the weekend, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was shot and killed by an officer, leading to a demonstration at the Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta where he was shot. The Wendy’s was burned to the ground, and officials are still looking for the perpetrator.

A man carries items past a burned out Auto Zone store
A man carries items past a burned out Auto Zone store after a night of rioting and looting near the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 28, 2020, (Jim Mone/AP photo)

House Democrats have issued similar proposals, including a database. The Democratic-led bill also bans chokeholds and makes it easier for people to recover damages if departments violate their civil rights.

On the Republican side, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is trying to pass a bill on police reforms.

“Is there a path forward that we can take to look at the necessity of eliminating bad behavior within our law enforcement community?” he told  “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Is there a path forward? I think we’ll find that.”