President Trump defends law enforcement, signs executive order on police reforms

President Trump’s executive order that will track bad cops, mostly ban chokeholds and offer financial incentives to improve policing is “exactly what we need to do,” a Massachusetts sheriff at Tuesday’s ceremony said.

The president said his new directive is “encouraging police departments nationwide to adopt the highest professional standards to serve their communities.”

Trump was surrounded by members of law enforcement — including Massachusetts Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson — as he signed the order in the Rose Garden.

Trump’s executive order would establish a database that tracks police officers with excessive use-of-force complaints in their records.

The order would also give police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices and encourage co-responder programs — something Boston Police Commissioner William Gross alluded to last week saying cops don’t need to be the only ones to respond to every call.

“We’re united by our desire to ensure peace and dignity and equality for all Americans,” Trump said.

“I can promise to fight for justice for all of our people and I gave a commitment to all of those families,” he added. “We are going to pursue what we said we will be pursuing it, and we will be pursuing it strongly.”

The president had just met with families affected by racially charged violence — including the family of Ahmaud Arbery, who died at the hands of two white men earlier this year in Georgia, Fox News reported.

The executive order comes after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis where a policeman kept his knee on the black man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. That killing has sparked protests from coast to coast and has many calling for police to be defunded.

Hodgson, echoing what Trump said Tuesday, said good cops keep people safe and a national standard is what’s needed now to improve policing.

“The president knows how to tackle a problem to get to a better place,” Hodgson told the Herald. “He’s actually hearing from people with boots on the ground.”

Trump addressed that Tuesday saying: “Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals.”

But, some said it does not go far enough.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the order “falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality that is murdering hundreds of black Americans.”

Kristina Roth at Amnesty International USA said the order “amounts to a Band-Aid for a bullet wound.”

As for chokeholds, Trump’s order would only allow them if the officer’s “life was at risk.” Hodgson said “peer pressure” and grants would help improve police standards in the years to come.

Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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