By MIKE BALSAMO, ZEKE MILLER and CHRIS MGERIAN – Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress stuck on tackling racism and excessive use of force, President Joe Biden plans to sign an executive order over policing on Wednesday, the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death.
The decision reflects Biden’s struggle to use his office’s limited powers to deliver on his campaign promises, as well as his effort to strike a balance between police and civil rights groups at a time when rising concerns about crime are overshadowing calls for reform.
Most of the warrant is directed at federal law enforcement agencies, requiring them to review and revise policies on the use of force, for example. It would also create a database to track agent misconduct, according to the White House.
While the administration cannot oblige local law enforcement agencies to participate in the database, which is intended to prevent problem officers from hopping from job to job, officials are looking for ways to use federal funding to encourage their cooperation.
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In addition, the order would restrict the flow of surplus military equipment to the 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” showing that the president “took the initiative” when Congress failed to act, but said activists “would never give up” to pushing for legislation.
“George Floyd woke us up and we shouldn’t go back to sleep,” Sharpton said in a statement.
Biden is expected to appear alongside relatives of Floyd, whose murder by Minneapolis police sparked nationwide protests two years ago.
It was the largest series of demonstrations in US history, taking place amid coronavirus restrictions and President Donald Trump’s divisive reelection campaign.
However, it has proved difficult to turn the initial outcry into political change.
When four officers were convicted of killing Floyd last year, Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to reform the police force before the anniversary of his death.
The sentencing was “not enough,” he said, and “we can’t stop here.”
However, no legislation was passed and talks between the two sides dragged on and were later broken off.
The White House ultimately decided to proceed with executive actions rather than wait for Congress.
In September, the Justice Department curtailed the use of no-knock warrants by federal agents — which allow law enforcement officers to enter a home without announcing their presence — and updated its policy to prohibit agents in most cases from using chokeholds. to use.
But extending such regulations to local law enforcement is more challenging, and White House officials have spent months negotiating with civil rights groups and police organizations.
The resulting set of policies is less comprehensive than originally sought, not to mention a year-long delay.
“We are well aware that an executive order cannot address the US police crisis in the same way that Congress can, but we must do everything we can,” said a statement from NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
The warrant goes beyond just misconduct and the use of force. 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 prisons, and propose better ways to collect data on police practices.
The research could eventually lay the groundwork for more changes in US law enforcement in the future.
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