Updated May 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden signs police reform order on anniversary of George Floyd's murder

Photo of Joe Biden signing a bill at a desk while people stand around him smiling
President Biden signs an executive order on police reform in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on May 25, 2022. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday signed a police reform executive order to create a national database of police misconduct, ban the use of chokeholds unless deadly force is authorized and require anti-bias training.

Why it matters: Wednesday marks two years since a white police officer kneeled on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes as he said "I can't breathe" over 20 times. Black civil rights advocates have decried stalled progress on police reform in Congress and slammed the continued lack of accountability for police killings that followed Floyd's death.

  • Floyd's family met with Biden last year on the one-year anniversary of his murder and said the president assured them he was still committed to passing a police reform bill and "doing everything to make sure [Floyd's] legacy was respected."
  • Biden signed the order on Wednesday with Floyd and Breonna Taylor's families present at the White House.
  • This "is a measure of what we can do together to address the profound fear, trauma and exhaustion that African Americans have endured for generations," Biden said in his remarks, adding that he will make sure Floyd's legacy is remembered.

Details: Biden's new order...

  • Establishes a national database of police misconduct and requires all federal law enforcement agencies to participate and use the database to screen personnel.
  • Bans the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints "unless deadly force is authorized" and restricts the use of no-knock entries.
  • Takes steps to ensure "timely and thorough investigations and consistent discipline."
  • Mandates body-worn camera policies and the expedited public release of footage in cases of serious bodily injury or deaths in custody for all federal agencies.
  • Restricts the transfer or federal purchases of military equipment "that belongs on a battlefield, not on our streets."
  • Implements an annual anti-bias training requirement.
  • Tracks data on use-of-force incidents.
  • Directs the Health and Human Services Department to publish a nationwide review of the "the physical, mental, and public health effects of use of force incidents on communities, including any disparate impacts."

The big picture: An Axios-Ipsos poll conducted last year found that nearly seven out of 10 Black Americans say police treatment has gotten worse.

  • Derrick Johnson, president of NAACP, told Axios' Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond that "what the administration is proposing is a great thing, but it’s secondary because an executive order only pales in its effectiveness to actual legislation."

Worth noting: In her speech prior to Biden's signing, Vice President Harris called out Senate Republicans for rejecting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, saying they "walked away from their moral obligation to address what caused millions of Americans to march in the streets."

  • "You should never have had to mourn in order for our nation to feel your pain and to understand what is wrong," she told Floyd and Taylor's families.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with statements by President Biden and Vice President Harris.

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