Trump to sign executive order on police reform Tuesday


U.S. President Donald Trump makes an announcement about U.S. trade relations with China and Hong Kong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 29, 2020.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on police reform tomorrow, he said Monday, as activists ramp up pressure for an overhaul of U.S. policing practices. 

Trump, speaking to reporters at a White House roundtable event Monday afternoon, said he believed the order would be “pretty comprehensive.”

“Basically, we’re going to be talking about things that we’ve been watching and seeing for the last month, and we’re going to have some solutions, some good solutions,” Trump said without providing further details.

The multi-pronged directive is aimed at creating funding incentives for police departments to improve their practices, senior administration officials said in a call with reporters Monday evening. 

The order will focus on improving officer retention and recruitment practices, including encouraging departments to recruit from within the communities they will patrol, the officials said. It will also prioritize “co-respondent services” intended to more deeply involve social workers in responding to certain nonviolent calls — such as those involving mental health, drug addiction and homelessness issues — rather than cops alone.

“In many cases they’re not the best ones to respond to these types of efforts,” one of the officials said.

The officials stressed that providing federal money as an incentive is distinctly different from “defunding” the police — a demand that is quickly growing from within the massive protests that have arisen across the nation in the weeks following the death of George Floyd.

“What we want to be doing is incentivizing people to take on those best standards, improve their training and do the retention of good officers,” said another official on the call, “but you’re never going to solve this problem by demonizing the police. You have to solve this problem by working with law enforcement and with the police to make progress together.”

The administration worked with numerous police groups, faith leaders and family organizations in crafting the order, according to the senior administration officials.

During an event in Dallas last week, the president said that the order would “encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards of force” and de-escalation. He said “that means force, but force with compassion.” 

The White House declined to comment Monday when asked for further details about the order.

The executive action comes as lawmakers of both parties work on their own legislative proposals to reform the police — an issue that became a central focus in recent weeks, following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Democrats unveiled a sweeping bill last week, while Republicans tasked Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of three Black members of the Senate, to lead a working group to develop reform measures of their own. Scott said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he believes both parties will be able to find a path forward to pass a bill into law.

The death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died when a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest, sparked a protest movement against police brutality and structural racism that has drawn crowds of thousands of demonstrators across the country for multiple weeks.

Trump’s senior economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, told CNBC’s “The Exchange” on Wednesday that he does not believe there is systemic racism in the United States.

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, when asked at a briefing last week if Trump believes systemic racism exists within law enforcement, said the president believes there are “instances of racism” but that most cops are good people.

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