U.S. President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order Tuesday on some police reforms, the goal of which a senior administration official said is “to invest more and incentivize best practices.”
Briefing reporters Monday ahead of the signing, a senior administration official said the main piece will be creating certification bodies to train officers on de-escalation techniques and use of force standards.
“We’re leveraging our ability to execute discretionary grants and prioritizing those police departments that take the time to get that credentialing,” the official said.
Another part would push for creating so-called co-respondent services, a system in which officers would pair with social workers when responding to nonviolent calls, especially those involving mental health concerns and drug addiction issues.
More sweeping overhauls to the nation’s policing are under consideration in Congress.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the issue Tuesday with testimony from law enforcement and civil rights officials.
The chamber’s Republican majority is crafting its package of proposals, which includes a ban on chokeholds and increased used of police body cameras.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the legislation “a serious proposal to reform law enforcement.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Republican effort does not go far enough, and that “now is the time to seek bold and broad-scale change.”
The Democrat-led House of Representatives is expected to vote sometime this month on its own package that includes a provision that would make it easier to file civil lawsuits against officers who violate someone’s rights.
The White House has signaled President Donald Trump would not endorse ending what is known as the qualified immunity doctrine.
Proposals for police reforms come after three weeks of nationwide protests renewed by the death in police custody of George Floyd, an African American man who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after an officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Floyd’s was the latest case to spark outrage at the use of force by police, especially against African Americans. Last Friday brought another with police shooting dead Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta.
Protesters, organized by civil rights groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), gathered outside the Georgia Capitol where lawmakers were returning to work after a coronavirus shutdown. More than a thousand demonstrators demanded lawmakers take up criminal justice reform, as well as voting issues, after last week’s election was marred by long lines at the polls.
A few protesters came inside the Capitol, chanting in the building’s rotunda.
Several Democratic state lawmakers, who are in the minority in the Georgia House and Senate, joined the protest Monday and said they are ready to act on calls for reforms. Republican House Speaker David Ralston told lawmakers Monday he wants to pass a bill to further penalize hate crimes, saying its passage is “just as important” as passing a state budget. The House has previously passed a hate crimes bill, but it has stalled in the Senate.
Many Democrats are proposing an array of new legislation to reform policing practices, however Republicans, as well as some Democrats, say there is not enough time to pass a big legislative package with only 11 days remaining in the lawmakers’ session following a lengthy coronavirus shutdown.
Demonstrations also took place Monday evening in Washington’s Lafayette Park across the street from the White House to mark two weeks since law enforcement forcefully cleared a peaceful crowd shortly before U.S. President Donald Trump walked through the area for a photo opportunity at a nearby church.
Also Monday, the U.N. Human Rights Council agreed to hold an urgent debate on Wednesday “on the current racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protesters.”