White House moves to re-establish ties with police leaders

WASHINGTON – Susan Rice, the White House domestic policy adviser, called the leaders of the nation’s largest police groups last month to promise a significant reset in their relationship as the government… Biden’s administration completes an executive order on police reform, a move that stops a potential violation that has been in production for months, according to several people briefed on the calls.

The groups welcomed Ms. Rice’s approach, which sounded like an oath to put their thoughts in order and possibly a clear word of mouth. The White House solicited input from the groups, but did not engage with them on content and details; Their frustrations only spiked in the days before she called, when they were blindsided by the leak of an 18-page draft executive order containing language they found offensive.

Ms. Rice’s adjustment of course combines with a broader shift in the White House towards a more central stance on policy such as violent crime increased. And it underscores President Biden’s struggle to satisfy civil rights groups, whose calls for reform have gone viral following the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020. and rejected criticism that Democrats are soft on crime.

This more central point of view is likely to be on display when Mr. Biden meets on Thursday with the newly elected mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, a former police captain who went up to illustrate the show. How Democrats have turned to the center in criminal justice matters, just two years after progressives began calling for a police crackdown.

In an interview, Ms. Rice sought to bridge that gap, saying Mr Biden’s recognition that responsible and respectful policy is essential to effective public safety did not undermine weakened his longtime support for law enforcement.

“Yes, we need police on the streets, well equipped, but we need them to have the cooperation and trust of the community. These things are not opposing each other – they are reinforcing each other,” said Ms. Rice.

She also noted that the draft executive order has yet to be implemented and many issues remain unresolved.

One key point is that a guideline could prompt federal officers, and most likely state and local police, to tighten their standards for the use of force, stipulating when police can shoot. Civil liberties groups have welcomed the change, but police leaders have said they are unable to comply.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which advises departments on best practices, says he’s seen “significant breakthroughs” in communication with the White House in recent weeks.

“We are not opposed to reforms,” he said. “We want to make sure that the executive order balances the need for police reform with the changing nature of crime and policing taking place across the country.”

The origin of the order begins with murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and subsequent calls for reform to address issues such as racism in policing and the use of deadly force.

As it became clear in September that a bill called the George Floyd Justice in Policy Act would can’t get over it Senate, White House began to take a closer look at resolving some issues through an executive order. Ms. Rice and her team led its development.

Late in the summer, according to people familiar with the process, the White House began holding conference calls with groups they spoke to about Floyd’s law, including leaders of police groups. – many of them endorsed aspects, but not all, of the bill. – as well as civil rights groups and family representatives of those killed by police.

Those initial calls included two listening sessions with law enforcement teams in late October: one with Terrence M. Cunningham, deputy executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and Jim Pasco, superintendent executive officer of the Police Corps and a longtime friend of Mr. Biden; and another with a broader group of similar organizations, an official said.

The White House held about 20 meetings with various law enforcement teams between August and December, according to one official. But police leaders told members of Congress and senior law enforcement officials that the fighting appeared perfunctory.

Ms. Rice countered that view, describing the meetings as part of a planned listening phase and saying officials plan to engage more deeply in the draft language later.

Many advocates say the White House’s meetings with civil rights groups last year were also “listen”-style meetings.

As the draft process progressed, the officials said, the White House was privately warned that it needed to engage more with police leaders to secure their support for the final order. . Among those making that case are two Democratic senators – Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Cory Booker of New Jersey, both of whom worked on the George Floyd bill – as well as Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, and No. 2 and 3 Officials at the Department of Justice, Lisa O. Monaco and Vanita Gupta.

For example, in an early November meeting, Mr. Durbin and Mr. Booker said that their counties were grappling with increased crime, and that it would be a practical and political issue to confront police, according to people briefed. meeting.

But the White House hasn’t changed its approach, and in late December it sent its draft executive order to other executive branches for comment. A blurred image of that draft leaked and copy published on 5 January by The Federalista conservative website.

Indignant law enforcement groups particularly disliked the tone of the order’s policy preamble, which spoke of “systemic racism” in the criminal justice system.

Mr. Pasco said he had told the Justice Department and the White House that issuing that version of the order “would cause an irreparable rift between Biden and the police.” Another group leader told authorities the headline would be “Biden turns his back on the police.”

That raised alarms. Mr. Biden has been mindful of his relationship with the police, especially since the major police unions he has worked with with President Donald J. Trump previously endorsed in the election this year. 2020.

Some officials said they understood the draft was almost ready for publication when it was leaked. But White House officials countered that impression. Dana A. Remus, a White House adviser, calls it a “very early draft” that’s not close to being ready.

Either way, its publication prompted Ms. Rice to make mediation phone calls aimed at more substantive discussions.

Since then, Ms. Rice said that law enforcement, civil rights groups and others have shared their responses and that officials are “trying to respond to what we’ve heard.”

Mr. Pasco said the leaked order contained provisions that everyone could agree to, such as standardizing and improving certification for police agencies; create a national register of police officers who have been fired for cause – following due process hearings – so that those officers are not re-hired by other departments; tightening restrictions on when police can use so-called bans during raids; and prohibits the transfer to the police of military equipment such as flash-bang grenades.

But the part about the use of force remains a point of contention. Under current law, officers can open fire if they fear for their lives or those around them. The draft order only authorizes the use of deadly force “as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative.”

Policy changes and other changes in that order apply only to federal law enforcement, but state and local police may also be encouraged to adopt changes because of a provision about federal law enforcement. federal discretionary grant. (Discretionary grants make up a fraction of the billions of dollars that Congress spends on local law enforcement.)

Earlier versions of the order explicitly called for the implementation of such subsidies to be conditional on the adoption of new policies, according to officials working on the draft. But the leaked version is more lenient, saying the money should be distributed “in a way that augments policy goals,” like the standard use of force.

Civil rights groups are insisting that the language of force remains in the last order. Udi Ofer, deputy national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said Mr Biden had “the authority to set a strong standard that will save lives”.

However, Mr. Pasco described the clause as a deal-breaker, saying it would open the door to “late speculation” by officers. He said the White House should instead focus on consensus ideas.

It is not yet clear what the government will do. For now, however, police group leaders say they have an opportunity to clarify their case.

“Crime is a problem and I think the president recognizes that,” Wexler said. “The pendulum that is returning to crime is a significant priority.” White House moves to re-establish ties with police leaders

Fry Electronics Team

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