President Joe Biden signed a Executive Decree speaking to police on Wednesday, the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The order comes after Congress failed to pass more substantial police reform legislation and primarily impacts federal law enforcement, including placing limits on the use of lethal force and establishing a register of officers dismissed for misconduct. It seeks to motivate state and local police departments to enact similar reforms through monetary incentives.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of civil rights organization the National Urban League, said the ordinance is a step in the right direction, but legislation on police reform is always necessary.
“I am disappointed in the failure of Congress, time and time again – whether on gun safety legislation or police reform, criminal justice reform or voting rights – to do this. what the American people want,” he said in an interview with Marketplace’s David Brancaccio.
“That said, this executive order has a strong impact on the 100,000 federal law enforcement officers to whom it will apply directly, but also sets a pattern and uses carrots and sticks and incentives to encourage law enforcement agencies. local and state law enforcement to do the same. kind of reforms. The decree is therefore important. It’s a lot. But it is limited in its scope; we need a federal law.
The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
David Brancacio: Wanted more—not disappointed?
Mark Moriel: Let me say this, I’m disappointed with the inaction of Congress. I am disappointed in the failure of Congress, repeatedly – whether on gun safety legislation or police reform, criminal justice reform or voting rights – to do what wants the American people. The disappointment is, in particular, with the Senate and its repeated use of the filibuster to stop the kind of progress we need. That said, this executive order has a strong impact on the 100,000 federal law enforcement officers to whom it will apply directly, but also sets a pattern and uses carrots and sticks and incentives to encourage law enforcement agencies. local and state law enforcement to make the same kind of reforms. The decree is therefore important. It’s a lot. But it is limited in its scope; we need a federal law.
Brancacio: People need to understand this: This is an executive order very focused on federal law enforcement and federal agencies. Can states, local governments and cities effectively ignore this?
Morale: They can. But what they can also do is look at that as a model. A city council; a mayor, by executive decree; the police, on police orders, can limit the use of no-knock warrants; may limit or prohibit unnecessary devices such as chokeholds. So there is a great opportunity. And here at the National Urban League, we presented a plan called the 21-pillar scheme, and much of what this plan calls for was included in the executive order. But it also speaks directly to state and local governments; mayors and police chiefs; county executives; to sheriffs who can, on their own initiative, do substantial things when it comes to reforming and ensuring that the police are both accountable and effective.
Brancacio: Explain how you perceive restorative measures that contribute to public safety.
Morale: I think there’s a growing recognition across the country that there are people in communities who have a set of challenges that are best addressed not by law enforcement, but by professionals in paid mental health; paid social workers, and what people need is not an arrest in jail, but they need intervention, and they need help. There was a study in one city that showed that less than half of the 911 calls the police had to answer actually required a police office – that in many cases it required someone else with a level of different expertise. This study should encourage cities to think differently about how they respond to issues that are traditionally viewed as crime issues, and how they are more community issues that require a different response. Now, of course, we’re not talking about someone charged with murder. We’re not talking about armed robbery here. We’re mostly talking about non-violent offenses, status offenses, which don’t really involve an act against another person. And so all of that taken together points to a different direction on policing. But you can take this direction while focusing on proactive prevention and unearthing the most violent offenders in our communities.
Brancacio: Mr. Morial, I want to move on to another subject, it is economic justice two years after the murder of George Floyd. You’ve seen all the corporate pledges to raise money in different ways to fight structural racism. Two years later, do you see these promises being matched by action?
Moriel: I think it’s a mixed bag. And I think there hasn’t been a definitive analysis yet. I see those who have made commitments and who have worked very hard to respect them. But that’s still not enough. I see, and I’ve witnessed, one or two who backtracked – who hired a diversity director and a year later changed course. The message, I think, that’s important is that you can’t reverse 400 years in four months. So those who have made the commitment, I call on them to maintain this commitment. Not to lose interest and run to the next issue, but to maintain that commitment to fighting racial injustice in America.
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