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Street Cop Training

June 3, 2022

Law Enforcement Reform: An Executive Order

On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The “Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing, and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety .”Biden stated that this Executive Order “Is a measure of what we can do to heal the very soul of this nation.” 

The Executive Order is mainly directed at Federal Law Enforcement Agencies; however, some of the measures included will involve local and state agencies. 

The included measures are separated to show what affects federal agencies and local/state agencies. Here are just a few of the measures included in the bill.

Federal Law Enforcement Agencies:

  • Creates a new national database of police misconduct
  • Mandates the adoption of body-worn camera policies
  • Bans the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints unless deadly force is authorized and restricts the use of no-knock entries
  • Requires new standards that limit the use of force and require de-escalation for all federal agencies
  • Requires an updated approach to recruitment, hiring, promotion, and retention of law enforcement officers

State/Local Law Enforcement Agencies 

  • Restores and expands upon the Obama-Biden Administration’s restrictions on the transfer of military equipment
  • Requires new standards for accreditation and for accrediting bodies

Generally speaking, this EO involves reform across the board for all Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. However, what impacts us at the local level is still significant. For example, the National Sheriff’s Association President, Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, had this to say:

“There are potentially elements of this Order that make sense and could be beneficial to all law enforcement. However, Sheriffs are disappointed that the President chose opaqueness over transparency in drafting this Order.” He went on to add, “By choosing not to listen to elected law enforcement, the President missed hearing from the rest of the country.”

While this Executive Order is aimed at federal agencies, some discontent appears at the state and local levels. Will these reforms trickle down and become mandated to our local agencies? Many of these reforms are not overtly wrong but having them attached to policies that will put officers at risk (removal of carotid restraints, for one) is where the problems seem to lay. Another similar measure is the changes to getting “hand-me-down” equipment from the military to law enforcement agencies. As we all know, smaller agencies at the state and local levels do not have the funding for equipment. Having this measure will put a monetary strain on these agencies. 

There is a lot to unpack from this, and only time will tell exactly how this will fair for us at the local levels. There will be some division because of this measure. The irony, however, is not lost on me that this EO was signed the day after an active shooter. The responding officers would have significantly benefited from having military body armor and equipment.