The White House is defending its highly anticipated police reform executive order two years after George Floyd's death despite law enforcement expressing disapproval of a draft leaked earlier this year.
The final order is a culmination of consultation, including with law enforcement, but it does not "hide from the truth that we need reform in policing and in our larger criminal justice system," according to a senior administration official.
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"And that includes addressing systemic racism," an aide told reporters Tuesday.
The executive order tries to promote police accountability, raise standards, support law enforcement with improved processes and training, enhance data transparency and oversight technologies, and reform the broader criminal justice system, officials said.
But they had trouble explaining how, for example, President Joe Biden planned to mandate local and state law enforcement contributions to a new federal police misconduct database.
"That is beyond the president's power," a staffer said, referring to Attorney General Merrick Garland and other agency heads' grant-making and accreditation powers. Another added, "We do think that by mandating all federal law enforcement officers to participate in it, as well as to build it so that it can take state and local information at the same time and encourage state and local participation ... that this will be a really, really, frankly, a really big deal for purposes of meaningful reform."
Other measures include a federal body camera requirement, a federal chokehold and carotid restraint ban unless deadly force is authorized, no-knock entry restrictions, expanding former President Barack Obama's limitations on military equipment transfers, and annual anti-bias coaching.
Republican strategists, such as Congressional Leadership Fund spokesman Calvin Moore, are already pressing Capitol Hill Democrats on whether they endorse the executive action, particularly its local law enforcement funding and police gear constraints.
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“Democrats embraced a radical, anti-police agenda, and Americans are seeing the consequences as crime soars nationwide,” Moore said. “Even as communities grow more dangerous by the day, Democrats are doing everything in their power to make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs.”