White House drafting executive order on police reform

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While President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland visit New York City on Thursday to talk about combating crime, members of their team are hard at work in Washington D.C. putting the final touches on an executive order focusing on police accountability.

FOX News reviewed a draft document confirmed by multiple sources familiar with the impending order aimed at the federal law enforcement community. It is scheduled to be released sometime in the coming weeks, likely in March. A source aware of the draft cautions that the release date could change.

New York Police officers gather along Fifth Avenue outside St. Patrick's Cathedral for Officer Wilbert Mora's funeral, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in New York. 

New York Police officers gather along Fifth Avenue outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Officer Wilbert Mora’s funeral, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in New York. 
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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While it focuses specifically on federal law enforcement, the order may serve as a model for local police departments across the country. The proposed order comes at a time when crime is high, and in many departments federal and local, morale is low.

“It is time that we acknowledge the legacy of systemic racism in our criminal justice system and eliminate the racial disparities that endure to this day. Doing so serves all Americans,” the first page of the draft memo reads.

President Biden is personally giving his input to the draft, though publicly, the White House is keeping details close to the vest.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at Jan. 21, 2022, U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at Jan. 21, 2022, U.S. Conference of Mayors. 
(Fox News)

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“We agree a law is more permanent than executive orders. That is absolutely true, but we have not even finalized nor do I have a preview of exactly when it would be,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

The draft focuses largely on behavioral accountability, and adds new resources for mental health services for distressed officers. It directs the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services to publish a report “on best practices and professional standards to provide mental health, wellness, and other support to law enforcement officers, including those who have been involved in or exposed to an emotionally traumatic experience in the course of their duties.”

At the same time, the proposal directs the Department of Justice to “establish the National Law Enforcement Accountability Database in order to provide a centralized repository of official records documenting instances of law enforcement officer misconduct.”

President Biden speaks at the 40th annual National Peace Officers Memorial.

President Biden speaks at the 40th annual National Peace Officers Memorial.

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The draft in its current form does not cut funding, but orders federal agencies to change policies, including banning chokeholds, reforming body-worn camera policy, and restricting the use of “no-knock entries.”

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and Fraternal Order of Police have no comment until the order is released.

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