President Joe Biden will sign an executive order today, the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, restricting the use of chokeholds and no-knock orders by federal law enforcement, as well as stops the transfer of surplus military equipment. to the police.
The executive order directs all federal law enforcement agencies to adopt policies that prohibit carotid chokeholds and restraints; adopt policies on body cameras; limit the use of no-hit orders to certain circumstances; and adopt updated rules on the use of force that encourage de-escalation.
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The order also directs the attorney general to create a "National Law Enforcement Accountability Database" to track police misconduct. The White House said the order would also expand Obama's restrictions on the transfer of surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement. Since 9/11, the federal government has provided more than $1 billion in surplus military equipment to police, along with billions more in grants for major equipment and surveillance technology.
"Police cannot fulfill their role in keeping communities safe without public confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system," the White House said in a press release. "Yet today there are places in America where the bonds of trust are fraying or breaking. To heal as a nation, we must recognize that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disproportionately involved Black and Brown people." .
Civil rights groups offered moderate praise for the actions.
Udi Ofer, deputy national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement that the order "takes an important and necessary step in light of Congress's failure to act on police reform, but it is only a first step."
The executive order has been in the works since last fall, after police reforms collapsed in Congress. It has become a political headache for the Biden White House after a plan, first reported by The Federalist, was leaked in January. Outraged law enforcement groups said they had been left behind.
Law enforcement groups have particularly objected to a provision in the draft order that only authorized the use of deadly force "as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative, in other words, only when necessary to prevent serious and imminent bodily injury or death." .
This language has since been softened. Today's executive order, reflected in an updated use of force policy issued by the Department of Justice, directs federal law enforcement officers to use deadly force only "when necessary, that is, when the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or another person.
La nouvelle politique établit également un devoir affirmatif pour les agents fédéraux chargés de l'application des lois d'intervenir s'ils sont temoins d'une force excessive ou d'other constitutional violations par des collegues officiers, et un devoir affirmatif de prodiguer les first aid.
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While the order will have a noticeable impact on federal law enforcement, it will have much less power over the approximately 18,000 state and local police departments in the United States, where the vast majority of police departments are located. The federal government can only push these departments toward its preferred policies by offering grants to agencies that comply or denying grants to those that refuse to comply. That's why the FBI worked hard to create a national police use-of-force database; the police simply do not have to be involved.
For example, all federal law enforcement agencies will be required to participate in the misconduct database, but the White House press release only notes that state and local agencies "are also invited to enter their records." .