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President Trump Signs Executive Order On Policing


President Trump unveiled his version of police reform today. It was an executive order signed in the Rose Garden that he says will encourage police departments around the country to adopt better use of force and de-escalation policies.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals. They are not mutually exclusive.

CHANG: This move comes after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which led to weeks of protests in the U.S. White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe joins us now with more.

Hey, Ayesha.


CHANG: So what exactly does this executive order do?

RASCOE: There are three major components. First, it uses federal grant money as an incentive to get local law enforcement agencies to seek specific certifications and credentials. The intent is that this will persuade departments to get more up-to-date training. It also calls for the attorney general to set up a database that will allow jurisdictions to share information about police officers who engage in excessive force and other inappropriate behavior. This database is supposed to allow departments to track officers who engage in misconduct so they don't get kicked out of one job and then just get hired again someplace else.


RASCOE: The final part of the order calls for the Justice Department to look at ways for law enforcement to partner with social workers and other advocates to help respond to calls dealing with mental health, addiction, things of that nature. The administration is also looking at what type of legislation might be needed to help improve law enforcement practices and interactions between the police and the communities they're supposed to protect. The order does not specifically mention racism. It does say that police misconduct in African American communities should be addressed.

CHANG: So how much of a difference do you think this executive order will make? What's your sense?

RASCOE: A lot will depend on how this is implemented and what type of follow-through happens here. But even some supporters of the president and conservative advocates say this is a first step and that these are modest changes. They fall well short of what some activists and Democrats are calling for. It does not include a full ban on chokeholds. It does say that chokeholds should not be used unless an officer feels their life is at risk. But typically, in these cases that have raised all these concerns, officers will say they feel their lives were at risk. So this is not an overhaul. And President Trump, in his speech, spent much of his time praising law enforcement, much less time talking about victims of police brutality. And he continued to drive home his message about the need for tough policing of looters. Here's more from him.


TRUMP: Americans want law and order. They demand law and order. They may not say it. They may not be talking about it, but that's what they want. Some of them don't even know that's what they want, but that's what they want.

RASCOE: Trump did meet with some families that have lost their loved ones at the hands of the police, but those families notably were not standing behind Trump for the photo op of him signing the order. Those were just law enforcement representatives standing behind him.

CHANG: Interesting. All right. So while the president was announcing this order, Congress is working on legislation right now to address some of these exact same issues. Did the president address those efforts? What did he say?

RASCOE: He did say he wanted Congress to do something, but he didn't lay out what he wants Congress to do and what he will ultimately be willing to sign into law. Senate Republicans are working on a bill that could be unveiled as early as this week. That's expected to include measures to require more reporting from departments when force is used and seeking to encourage higher standards. House Democrats have already released a bill that would, among other things, outright ban chokeholds. But it's unclear whether you're going to get a deal between Republicans and Democrats that can pass both chambers, and that's still a question.

CHANG: That is NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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