US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order on police reforms that he said would deliver “elegant justice” as the nation is roiled by protests over the killing of black citizens by police.
The presidential directive provides funding incentives for police departments nationwide to include a ban on choke holds, extra training on guidelines for the use of force, and a database of officers who have engaged in misconduct.
“We have to break old patterns of failure,” Trump said shortly before signing the order in the Rose Garden in front of uniformed police officers.
The order prioritizes federal grants to police departments who adhere to the new, higher standards, Trump said.
“As part of this new credentialing process, choke holds will be banned except if an officer’s life is at risk,” he said.
“Additionally we’re looking at new advanced and powerful, less lethal weapons to help prevent deadly interactions,” he added.
The move is a step towards requests made by Democratic leaders in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that while Trump “has finally acknowledged the need for policing reform,” more action must be taken.
“Congress needs to quickly pass strong and bold legislation with provisions that makes it easier to hold police officers accountable for abuses, and President Trump must commit to signing it into law,” Schumer said in a statement.
Trump said that while only a “very tiny” number of officers engage in misconduct, it remains critical to build trust between citizens and police in distressed areas.
The order states that “particularly in African-American communities, we must redouble our efforts as a nation to swiftly address instances of misconduct” by police.
Shortly before his address Trump spoke with relatives of people killed during encounters with police.
“To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side,” Trump said. “Your loved ones will not have died in vain.”
“We must seek cooperation, not confrontation” between police and communities, and “strive to deliver safe, beautiful, elegant justice and liberty for all.”
Trump also accused Democrats, including his presidential predecessor Barack Obama, of failing to address the issue of police brutality.