President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to establish a national certification system for law enforcement agencies and a database to better track excessive uses of force by police officers nationwide, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
The executive order is still being finalized, but the key provisions in the current draft of the executive order include modest directives with broad-based support intended to encourage higher standards among police departments while leaving the prospect of more significant police reform to Congress.
A source briefed on the text of the order said it is relatively muted when it comes to sweeping police reforms that have been discussed by members of both parties recently. The order mainly leans on lawmakers to do the heavy lifting, as the President has privately expressed caution about alienating police officers by going too far.
Trump has yet to comprehensively address issues of police reform or even acknowledge systemic racism in America and has not been heavily involved in drafting the executive order. Instead, the President has directed his energy on delivering a tough-talking law-and-order message and falsely portraying peaceful protesters as mostly violent.
The executive order is also expected to direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to encourage police departments to embed mental health professionals in their response to calls related to mental health, homelessness and addiction as well as to find resources to help police departments hire mental health co-responders, the source said.
Ja’Ron Smith, a deputy assistant to the President, confirmed Monday morning that the executive order will look to incentivize police departments to include mental health professionals as co-responders.
“Co-responders would allow for police to do their job but bring in social workers and experts that deal with mental health and deal with issues such as drug addiction or alcohol addiction or even other issues like homelessness,” Smith said on Fox News Channel.
The executive order is also expected to include language acknowledging that some law enforcement officials have misused their authority and will urge Congress to pass legislation on police reform.
Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are working to advance two competing bills, with the Democratic legislation going further in several respects by banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants. White House officials have been coordinating with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the sole black Republican senator, who is spearheading the GOP’s legislative effort.
While Trump has been hesitant to wade into the issue of police reform, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Smith have been leading an effort inside the White House to seek out police reform proposals from criminal justice reform advocates and law enforcement groups in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
While Trump signaled last week that he may support outlawing chokeholds, the executive order is not expected to direct an outright ban.
“I don’t like chokeholds,” Trump said in a Fox News interview last week, before quickly suggesting that some situations might make the use of a chokehold appropriate.
“I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect, and then you realize if it’s a one on one — now if it’s a two on one, that’s a little bit of a different story, depending — depending on the toughness and strength. You know, we’re talking about toughness and strength. We are talking — there’s a physical thing here also. But if a police officer is in a bad scuffle, and he’s got somebody in a chokehold … ” Trump said. “With that being said, it would be, I think, a very good thing that, generally speaking, it should be ended.”