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Police reform advocates say President Trump's executive order 'fell short'

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jun 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 07:26:09-04

BALTIMORE — President Donald Trump signed an executive order to change the nation's police practices Tuesday, but police reform advocates believe he missed an opportunity to make meaningful change.

Jacqueline Rhoden-Trader, who is the chair of the criminal justice department at Coppin St. University, said the reforms in the order came up short.

“I don’t believe the needle moved at all after having this executive order," she said. "He fell short."

Among the president’s reforms were creating a national database to track excessive use of force and banning chokeholds, except if the officer’s life is in danger.

President Trump also is encouraging police departments to add mental health professionals to assist in mental health related calls, while offering funding incentives for police departments that increase training and meet justice department standards

Rhoden-Trader believes the president didn't present any reforms that address the roots problems of police brutality, including laws that protect police officers. She also said the president failed to acknowledge systemic racism in policing.

“We can have all that jargon. What about the how? What are the deliverables? How will we do that?,” she said. “He had the opportunity to use his 7 mins and 48 seconds to really address the issue at hand and he opted not to do so.”

Leonard Hamm, who served as Baltimore City Police Commissioner from 2004-2007, said many of the reforms in the president's executive order have already been in place at a number of police departments across the country, including a ban on chokeholds.

“What normally happens to a young police officer is they’ll go through the police academy and they’ll be trained, then you put them out into a district or then you put them out into a precinct where that culture prevails that forget everything you learned this is how we do this job here,” he said.

Hamm added it should be local and state leaders reforming police and not the president.

"Policing as we know it now has to change drastically in this country," Hamm said.

He said he's confident it will get better because majority of of police officers are good people. But, he said the community and the police have to work together we well.

“I’m very hopeful that it’s going to change," Hamm said. "I think that people are finally listening to one another.”