State and local agencies will have access to a national database of cases of police officer misconduct.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday was scheduled to sign an executive order that will create a national database of police misconduct and mandate policies for federal law enforcement designed to prevent police brutality. Biden's order comes on the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
According to a White House statement:
The EO orders the Attorney General to establish a National Law Enforcement Accountability Database, in which all Federal law enforcement agencies (Federal LEAs) must participate. The database will include records of officer misconduct (including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct, and sustained complaints or records of disciplinary actions for serious misconduct), as well as commendations and awards.
The database will have due process protections for officers. All federal agencies must use the database in screening personnel, and it will be accessible to state and local LEAs, who are encouraged to enter their records as well. The Attorney General will make aggregate data, by law enforcement agency, public, and will assess what whether and in what form records from the database may be accessible to the public.
Biden's order also mandates that officers of federal law enforcement agencies – including the FBI, DEA, ATF, the Secret Service, and the Park Police – wear body cameras.
An April 2021 study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Council on Criminal Justice's Task Force on Policing found that in police departments where body cameras were used, complaints against officers over use of force dropped.
The Biden order also bans federal law enforcement officers from using chokeholds and carotid restraints, a method of restraining suspects by holding them around the neck with the officer's arm in a V shape.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in June 2021 of murdering George Floyd by kneeling on Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes on May 25, 2020. Floyd's killing sparked nationwide and international protests in 2020 in what has become the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement.
Biden's executive order will also reinstate limits placed on the government transfer of military hardware to local police departments that had been put in place by former President Barack Obama in May 2015. The policy was based on the determination by the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group created by Obama that the continued provision by the government of such equipment ran "the substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items, which are seen as militaristic in nature, could significantly undermine community trust and may encourage tactics and behaviors that are inconsistent with the premise of civilian law
Then-President Donald Trump rescinded the Obama administration policy by an executive order in August 2017.
During his campaign for president in 2020, Biden emphasized the need to reform police departments, noting that the presidency is "a duty to care" in a rebuke to Trump's opposition to protests against brutality.
By contrast, Trump frequently voiced support for police attacks on civilians. In a July 2017 speech to law enforcement officials, he told them, "When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, Please don't be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody. Don't hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?"
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.