Two years after the death of George Floyd, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at reforming the country’s police forces, changing police practices, and creating a new national database of police misconduct.
The president signed the order on last Wednesday, the two-year anniversary of the death of Floyd.
“This executive order is going to deliver the most significant police reform in decades. It applies directly, under law, to only 100,000 federal law enforcement officers, all the federal law enforcement officers. And through federal incentives and best practices that are attached to it, we expect the order to have significant impact on state and local law enforcement agencies as well,” the president said.
While Republicans and Democrats generally disagree on many aspects of the Floyd case, and the role of the fentanyl found in Floyd’s bloodstream played in his death, the order has some cross-party support from legislators who believe in holding police accountable for misconduct and prevent them from easily moving between jurisdictions.
That cross-party support, however, could be a result of a Republican legislator introducing a bill with similar measures two years ago.
Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina slammed the president and congressional Democrats this week for blocking his 2020 police reform bill, while championing many of the policies he attempted to introduce in the bill in the latest executive order.
What Did Tim Scott Say?
“After the radical ‘defund the police’ movement helped create the current crime wave, President Biden is pursuing a partisan approach to many of the exact same policy solutions I proposed in the JUSTICE Act just two years ago,” Senator Scott said in a statement this week.
“The fact is Democrats used a filibuster they call racist to block my reforms that they’re now embracing,” he continued.
Scott said that his proposal would have given funding to assist local law enforcement agencies comply with higher standards, but that the Democrats’ solution instead sets departments up for failure by “issuing unfunded federal mandates.”
In other words, the Democrats are expecting higher standards without the funding required to facilitate it.
“Making it harder for police to do their jobs to the best of their ability should be a nonstarter, yet that’s exactly what the Biden plan does,” Scott said.
Under his proposed JUSTICE Act, local police officers would have been required to maintain a system that shared disciplinary records – a proposal just like the one introduced by President Joe Bidens’ executive order.
The law would have also increased penalties for law enforcement officers who submit false police reports, and would have incentivized the use of body cameras at all times.
Chokeholds would have also been banned, and the Department of Justice would have been required to develop new training standards designed to help officer de-escalate instead of using force.
The bill was filibustered by Senate Democrats in June of 2020, blocking the bill. It has not been reintroduced since.
Biden’s “Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety” includes many of the same proposals, however, and makes no reference to the legislative efforts of Senator Scott.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.