RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Wednesday, on the two-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death by a Minneapolis police officer, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at reforming federal law enforcement.

While the mandates in Biden’s policing order only apply to federal law enforcement, the administration hopes it has a trickle-down effect to change policies at local agencies.

“It’s a measure of what we can do together to heal the very soul of our nation,” Biden said.

Specific changes made in the order include:

  • establishing a national database for officers fired for misconduct
  • banning chokeholds unless deadly force is needed
  • restricting federal no-knock warrants
  • requiring body cameras for federal officers in certain situations

“This order will help protect our communities and it will help keep members of law enforcement safe on the job,” Vice President Kamala Harris said.

Although the executive order has no hold on state and local law enforcement, it incentivizes local agencies with grant money and through accreditation to make similar changes.

The George Floyd Memorial Center released the following statement in support of the measure:

The signing of the “Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety” by President Biden is a step in the right direction to begin bridging the gap between law enforcement and communities of color. Such measures are long overdue. The significance of this action, the signing of an Executive Order, taking place on the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd is tremendous. It marks a continuation of the hearing of outcries for change that followed May 25, 2020, backed by action.

We, the family of George, support this legislation and urge our leaders to continue to fight for measures of transparency and accountability at all levels of law enforcement, from the Department of Justice to the local precincts. We also encourage community leaders to continue their work helping citizens find their voice and their role in this era of transformation.”

Thomas N McLaurin, Executive Director, George Floyd Memorial Center

Meanwhile, John Midgette, the director of governmental affairs for the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, says North Carolina has already begun taking many of the steps outlined in the executive order.

“I think it has some very good things in it, but it has things that have already been done on the local level over the past couple of years,” Midgette said.

Midgette is referencing North Carolina’s Criminal Justice Reform law signed by Governor Cooper last year. It created a statewide database for officer suspensions and removals, as well as early intervention for officer misconduct and use of force.

The Southern States Police Benevolent Association released a statement on the wording of Biden’s order saying in part:

Specifically, the language used in President Biden’s Executive Order on Policing is dangerous and may cause a greater chance for officers to be killed or injured. The order says that deadly force is authorized when no ‘reasonably effective, safe, and feasible alternative appears to exist” and “authorizes deadly force only when necessary,’ which contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court’s determination of reasonableness under the circumstances and places an officer in a failing situation of considering unlimited possibilities in seconds. It allows others not there to determine the number of “feasible” possibilities using “20/20 hindsight” the court warned against. A police officer facing an immediate situation cannot consider all feasible possibilities.

Further, it places a “necessary” standard that does not exist in case law. A police officer may face a situation that makes deadly force seem reasonable based on the known facts. They may find later facts unknown to the officer that may show the force to have been unnecessary. Again, this places another impossible standard on an officer who has seconds to determine if deadly force should be used…”

Brandon C. McGaha, Staff Representative/N.C. Governmental Affairs