Jun 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Getting bad cops off the streets

President Trump speaks during an event on police reform in the Rose Garden.

President Trump speaks during an event on police reform in the Rose Garden. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump hinted on Tuesday at a small potential area of bipartisan consensus on policing.

Why it matters: America's police departments do a bad job of keeping bad cops off the streets, with unsurprising and unacceptable results.

  • Systemic racism is real, and America's police disproportionately target black men in a way that white people are finally beginning to recognize.

On Tuesday in the Rose Garden, Trump said there are a "small number of bad police officers. ... They are very tiny. I use the word 'tiny.' It is a very small percentage. But you have them."

  • He was there to sign a modest executive order limiting the use of chokeholds and moves to create a national database for police misconduct," Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
  • The order also pushes for de-escalation training, which Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for on Monday.
  • "You've got to get cops to understand that it's not a cowardly act, that backing off could save this person's life," said Tom Manger, a retired police chief in Virginia and Maryland and former president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Between the lines: Both of the police officers involved in recent high-profile killings of black men had previous incidents that should have raised flags.

  • Garrett Rolfe: "The former Atlanta police officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot faced disciplinary action in 2016 for a use-of-force incident involving a firearm, according to department records."
  • Derek Chauvin: "The former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd shot one suspect, was involved in the fatal shooting of another, and received at least 17 complaints during his nearly two decades with the department, according to police records and archived news reports."

The bottom line: Police departments in general need work. Police used tear gas on protesters in 98 cities across 35 states in the weeks since George Floyd was killed, the New York Times.

Go deeper: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on reopening in the midst of protests

Go deeper