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By Reagan McCarthy | Townhall.com
Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
President Trump is signing an executive order on Tuesday regarding police reform that instructs Attorney General Bill Barr to oversee accountability for law enforcement units, a White House official originally told Townhall on Monday night. AG Barr will validate independent bodies to credential law enforcement units if reasonable standards are met. Practices on the radar of AG Barr include de-escalation training, use-of-force standards, systems to detect early warning signs of issues with law enforcement personnel and community engagement measures. The executive order mandates that any law enforcement department seeking grants via the federal government must be certified by these independent bodies as overseen by AG Barr.
The order also allows AG Barr to create a system in which information related to cases in which law enforcement officers are proven to have used excessive force can be shared, and units receiving public funds will be required to report the information. This measure will prevent law enforcement officers who are guilty of excessive force from moving from one jurisdiction to another freely. DOJ grants will go strictly to law enforcement departments that follow these procedures fully.
Mental health concerns are also addressed in this executive order. AG Barr and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will foster programs that will create training and resources for law enforcement officers to prepare for encounters with individuals suffering from impaired mental health, addiction and homelessness. It will also increase the number of social workers who work in conjunction with law enforcement in co-responder programs so that appropriate situations can be addressed by both parties.
The executive order brings focus back to training programs, and mandates accountability for law enforcement, while not vilifying the profession in its entirety. Ending qualified immunity is still off the table at this point.
President Trump paid tribute to families who have lost loved ones to police brutality and vowed to pursue justice in his address in the Rose Garden before signing the order. The president affirmed his opposition to the “radical and dangerous” efforts to “defund, dismantle and dissolve” law enforcement departments:
“Without police, there is chaos. Without law there is anarchy. And without safety there is catastrophe,” President Trump said. “We need leaders at every level of government who have the moral clarity to state these obvious facts.”
On the executive order, the president said that the credentialing programs demand that units adhere to the “highest standard,” and that chokeholds as a use of force will be banned unless an officer’s life is at risk. While he says that this executive action is a step in the right direction, President Trump indicated that Congress will be working to pass police reform.
Defund police unions, not police departments
By William Haupt III | The Center Square
A protester takes a knee as he tries to talk with police guarding the old state capitol in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday, May 31, 2020. It was the second day of protests in the North Carolina capital following the death of Minnesotan George Floyd while in police custody.
“Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
There are few professions where a person kisses their family goodbye on their way to work and the family silently thinks: “Will this be the last time I see them alive?” Every time a peace officer makes a traffic stop, or responds to a civil or criminal complaint, there is a potential for death that lurks within the shadows of their minds: “Will this be a routine call or will this be that time I will be taken out?”
When police around America recently turned on their TVs and saw how George Floyd was treated by now fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, many asked how could anyone whose duty is to protect and serve do this? As they prepared for duty in their precincts that evening, most knew they would be a target for angry rioters on every street in America; and all they wanted to do was protect and serve.
William Shakespeare wrote, “A bad act oft lives on as all good ones are interred with one’s bones.”
The evil deeds of bad cops always make headlines, especially if their violations are compounded in an ethnic incident. While bad cops are a very small minority, all cops instantly become the subject of chastisement. Why? Because the good that cops do daily doesn’t make headlines. So the media lays in wait for one cop to step out of line so they can go into attack mode! This way they can lash out against every American peace officer and condemn every department for racism and corruption.
Why didn’t the media report 52 officers were murdered on the job in 2019? And the year before, 46 were killed in the line of duty? And why didn’t media report The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has predicted that violent acts against police officers will continue to escalate as long as their departments lack the ability to self-manage and self-discipline? And why didn’t they report unions and liberal politicians have more influence over departments than their chiefs do?
“These restrictions limit our ability to manage, and that reflects in our accountability.”
Police chiefs around the nation agree they need to make adjustments on the training of officers to meet today’s challenges. Criminals are younger and more aggressive. They believe this is due to a lack of values, training at home, and public education. All consider the connubiality of police unions and politicians prevents them from improving departments. They claim they lack funding for training new cops and weeding out the bad ones, since all funding is preordained by unions and politicians.
During the past decade, complaints filed against police officers have been taken seriously in the aftermath of incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and now Minneapolis. It is important to note that only a small amount have merit. Many are filed simply because someone is upset that they were arrested for legitimate reasons. Gang members and drug dealers are notorious for filing complaints in the hopes of sidelining good officers. But those deemed genuine are not taken lightly.
When a department takes action on a complaint, the first person they have to deal with is a union representative. Unions are effective defending members with a pattern of abuse, who can go unpunished for years. Unions and liberal politicians that depend on union money have more influence on policy than police chiefs. When departments hold hearings, they must be done behind closed doors. This enables union reps to defend the actions of bad cops with the help of local politicians.
“The role of most police unions today is to act as an insurance policy to protect a few bad cops.”
Reuters compared the Minneapolis police department to 82 other big union departments and found that contracts included provisions to minimize discipline, alter records, and review rules that shield repeat offenders. Attempts by police chiefs to make changes were met with strict resistance from unions. This was most notable in cities run by liberal politicians without any right-to-work laws.
The day after prosecutors in Minneapolis took action against officers for the death of George Floyd, police union president Bob Kroll said, “It is despicable to deny any union member representation.”
In right-to-work states, there are few problems with misconduct reviews since unions don’t have the clout to disrupt investigations. But in strong union states, they donate to liberal campaigns and that political influence enables them to regulate department authority. New York unions donated over a million dollars to liberal campaigns last year.
“It’s like a protection racket for them.”
In strong union states, police unions have made reforms difficult. It’s taken federal intervention to enact them. Former Justice Department attorney Jonathan Smith, assigned to investigate police practices in Cleveland, said, “The union continually interfered with federally mandated department reforms.”
The National Association of Police Organizations, which monitors every major department, demands strict individual responsibility from every officer. But according to President Michael McHale, “This current national campaign to discredit all departments is out of line. We’re extremely disappointed to see this. This anti-police movement could nail the coffin shut for all American law enforcement. Those who support our police officers are happy. Those that hate the police never will be happy.”
Congressional Democrats just introduced the “Justice in Policing Act.” No law enforcement groups or Republicans had input in this bill. It includes rules that would be so pernicious to policing it would make it impossible to enforce the laws in any state. While the bill purports to ensure justice and fair treatment for all, it creates a potpourri of impractical conflicting laws and policies. This proves that its authors have no knowledge of the law and enforcing it, and care more about crooks than cops.
“We’re going to fight like hell to pass this legislation and put cops in their place.”
A June Gallup Poll concerning confidence with police revealed that 53 percent expressed “a great deal of confidence” and 21 percent were “very content” with law enforcement. Only 16 percent viewed cops with “little” or “no” confidence or had no opinion. This mirrors the results of a recent Rasmussen poll about the police and shows us that media is the force behind this national hate campaign against police officers.
This defunding of police rhetoric makes about as much sense as fighting a nuclear war with a bow and arrow. Most departments have few problems. The ones that do can’t remedy them with unions and liberal politicians over-ruling them. The only reforms we need in our departments are to dump the unions, allow chiefs to make their rules, discipline bad cops and let them fund their community projects as needed. If all political influence is eliminated, we can “judge them on their merit” alone.
We can’t operate departments with different rules for special groups out of fear of reprisal. All lives matter! If civic leaders wish to improve their cities for people of every color they must negate union and political influence. Departments must manage their officers and deal their own problems. They can adjust their operations to meet the needs of their communities and all law-abiding citizens will benefit from this. Then all criminals will get exactly what they deserve also! When one fallen officer reached heaven’s gates, God said: “Step forward now policeman, you’ve borne your burdens well. Come walk a beat on Heaven’s streets, you’ve done your time in hell.” (The Policeman’s Prayer)
Contributing Columnist William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.
Author: Frances Rice