By MIKE BALSAMO, ZEKE MILLER and CHRIS MEGERIAN – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress deadlocked over how to address racism and the excessive use of force, President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order on policing on Wednesday, the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.
The decision reflects Biden’s struggle to use his office’s limited powers to advance his campaign promises, as well as his attempt to strike a balance between police and civil rights groups at a time of growing concern over crime overshadow calls for reform.
Most of the order is focused on federal law enforcement agencies — for example, requiring them to review and revise use-of-force policies. It would also create a database to help track agent misconduct, according to the White House.
While the administration can’t require local police departments to participate in the database, which aims to keep problematic officers from moving from job to job, officials are looking at ways to use the funding. federal government to encourage their cooperation.
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Additionally, the order would restrict the flow of surplus military equipment to local police.
The public announcement is scheduled for the first day after Biden returns from his first trip to Asia as president.
Reverend Al Sharpton described Biden’s order as ‘an important step’ that showed the president ‘took the initiative’ when Congress failed to act, but he said activists ‘would never give up to push for legislation.
“George Floyd woke us up and we shouldn’t be going back to sleep,” Sharpton said in a statement.
Biden is expected to appear alongside relatives of Floyd, whose killing by Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests two years ago.
It was the largest series of protests in American history, occurring amid coronavirus shutdowns and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
However, turning the initial outcry into political change has proven difficult.
When four officers were convicted last year of killing Floyd, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to reform police before the anniversary of his death.
The guilty verdict was “not enough”, he said, and “we can’t stop there”.
However, no legislation was passed and bipartisan talks dragged on and then broke down.
The White House ultimately decided to move forward with executive actions rather than wait for Congress.
In September, the Justice Department restricted federal agents’ use of no-knock warrants — which allow law enforcement officers to enter a home without announcing their presence — and updated updated its policy to prohibit officers from using chokeholds in most circumstances.
But extending those rules to local police is more difficult, and White House officials have spent months negotiating with civil rights groups and police organizations.
The resulting set of policies is less extensive than originally anticipated, not to mention the one-year delay.
“We know very well that an executive order cannot solve the American police crisis in the same way that Congress has the ability to do, but we must do everything we can,” the president said. the NAACP, Derrick Johnson.
The order goes beyond misconduct and use of force issues. It would also assess the impact of facial recognition software on civil liberties, look for ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in federal correctional facilities, and suggest better ways to collect data on police practices.
The research could eventually lay the groundwork for further changes within US law enforcement in the future.
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