By Matthew Torres and Eliza Hernandez
WASHINGTON, DC –An executive order was signed Wednesday by President Joe Biden to create national accreditation standards for police departments and a national database that includes officers’ disciplinary records and complaints, according to The Washington Post.
The executive order follows Congressional rejection last year with similar intentions to overhaul policing after the murder of George Floyd.
Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told The Washington Post Tuesday, “If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said it’s not time for an executive order yet because we should be focused on federal legislation, the George Floyd bill in particular. But once that effort was sabotaged, the administration has stepped up as much as it could via executive action.”
In setting new guidelines for federal agencies, the order sets a standard for state and local agencies to follow. Additionally, federal grants will be made to local police to incentivize implementing restrictions on the use of choke holds and no-knock warrants.
The executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, Chuck Wexler, commented, “What this does is, when you don’t have Congress acting on a police bill, you have the President of the United States setting the tone: ‘Here’s what I expect of federal agencies and , therefore, I think state and local will follow.’”
After the initial failure to pass the federal legislation reforming law enforcement in September, President Biden announced his intent to pursue these reforms through executive action.
Police groups denounced the order’s preamble that states the criminal justice system had “systemic racism” and changes were made in the policy statement.
“We need reform in policing and in the larger criminal justice state” stated a senior White House official, adding for reform to occur there must be proceedings done at the state and local level.
Advocates have wanted change in the justice system for years but multiple proposed bills have failed to pass.
Change advocates sought to go beyond the power of the White House, but this unilateral decision can be potentially seen as the starting point to the change that advocates believe has been long overdue, according to the Post story.
As a result of limited power the president has regarding this action, Larry Cosmetic, the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association, still believes it will be directly affecting the “nation’s 10,000 federal officers.”
He told the Post he hopes this document will allow state and local departments to realize that getting rid of qualified immunity, choke holds, no-knock warrants and racial profiling are all essential to end racism and promote equality and justice for all Americans.
The document, he said, is also beneficial for officers, providing support for officers’ wellness, recruitment and retention.