'Enough': Biden signs police reform order on anniversary of George Floyd death

By |2022-05-25T19:41:51-04:00May 25th, 2022|Breonna Taylor|

WASHINGTON – Two years after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked nationwide protests, President Joe Biden signed a wide-ranging executive order on Wednesday that aims to hold police accountable for excessive use of force.With the Floyd family and Taylor's loved ones among those present, Biden said that in signing the measure, he sought to "address profound fear and trauma, exhaustion" that Black Americans in particular have experienced and to "channel that private pain and public outrage into a rare mark of progress.""The message is clear: enough. Just enough," Biden said of protests across the nation in the wake of Floyd's death.Biden’s order requires all federal law-enforcement agencies to limit the use of force, ban the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized, restrict the use of no-knock entry warrants and require the activation of body-worn cameras during arrests and searches, according to senior administration officials who briefed reporters ahead of the announcement.The order also calls for national accreditation standards for policing and the creation of a national database that will include records of officer misconduct. It also will restrict the transfer or purchase of surplus military equipment to local police and require annual anti-bias training.Biden signed the order at a White House ceremony on the two-year anniversary of the death of Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020, after a white officer used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground.Floyd’s relatives attended the ceremony, along with the families of other people killed by police, including the mother and relatives of Taylor, whom police officers shot and killed in her Louisville home on March 13, 2020, after breaking down her door to serve a search warrant.Louisville violence:McConnell blames Biden for empty US Attorney seats. The problem is closer to homeBiden's order, which will impact more than 100,000 federal law-enforcement officers, follows the collapse last September of an effort in Congress to pass legislation aimed at holding police accountable for violence in the line of duty.In the months that followed Floyd's killing, protesters took to the streets in Minneapolis and around the country to protest police brutality and racism. Some of that unrest was violent.When four officers were convicted last year for killing Floyd, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to reform police by the anniversary of his death. A bipartisan group of lawmakers met for months behind closed doors but was unable to agree on how to bolster transparency within police departments and collect data on use of force.With Congress deadlocked, Biden promised to use the limited powers of his office to order change.REALITY CHECK:Calls to 'defund the police' clash with reality for many Americans, city polls showLouisville Mayor Greg Fischer was among the officials and guests at the White House during Wednesday's signing, telling The Courier Journal he found time to have "a nice, long talk" with Tamika Palmer, Taylor's mother."I really admire her tenacity, that she was the national face of tragedy and made something good happen because of it," Fischer said in a phone interview, "so today was an important day for George Floyd's family but obviously for Breonna's family as well."Fischer said while Biden's new order only applies to federal law enforcement agencies, one of the "critical" parts of it that could impact Louisville Metro Police and other local departments is the creation of the national database on officer misconduct.He also said LMPD and Metro Government, which the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating in an ongoing "patterns and practices" probe, are "well down the road" of following the other policies called for in Biden's executive order.Fischer added "it's a shame" that Biden had to issue an executive order instead of Congress passing legislation on the police reform provisions.Biden's executive order was lauded by from some groups pushing for greater police accountability, but they stressed that more needs to be done."We know full well that an executive order cannot address America's policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to, but we've got to do everything we can," said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. "There's no better way to honor George Floyd's legacy than for President Biden to take action by signing a police reform executive order."Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called Biden's actions "a commendable first step to address a deeply unjust system."But, "it is still imperative that Congress pass national police accountability legislation to address the killings of Black women, men, and children around the country by law enforcement," as well as the deaths and mistreatment of people of color by police more generally, Hewitt said.Billy Kobin with The Courier Journal contributed reporting.Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.