'Enough!' Biden, decrying mass shootings and excessive force, signs executive order on policing

Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Acknowledging that “progress can be slow and frustrating,” Biden rejected those who have sought to pit the cause of police reform against matters of public safety.

“We can show what’s possible when we work together,” he said.

Although Democrats need another big turnout from Black voters in November if the party hopes to hold on to its slim congressional majorities, Biden, who outlined a plan to “fund the police” in his State of the Union address in March, is clearly wary of alienating moderate voters by giving any appearance that he is anti-law enforcement.

In particular, the administration amended the use-of-force language in the order to reflect the concerns of law enforcement, softening a provision in an earlier draft that would have authorized federal officers to use deadly force only “as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative, in other words, only when necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death.”

The final order instead refers to the Justice Department’s updated use-of-force policy, which was released this week. The first such revision of that policy in 18 years, the directive from Attorney General Merrick Garland says officers may shoot suspects when they have “a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The policy also states that deadly force should not be used “against persons whose actions are a threat solely to themselves or property unless an individual poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in close proximity.”


Vice President Kamala Harris, who spoke before Biden, began the event by remarking on the tragic mass shooting Tuesday at an elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead — and by speaking to the relatives of those killed at the hands of law enforcement, touching on the universality of grief.

“You have endured an imaginable grief. You have experienced the anguish of losing someone you love and cherish,” Harris said. “You should not have to mourn, should never have had to mourn in order for our nation to feel your pain — and to understand what is wrong and to agree that something must be done.”

She also attacked Republicans for walking “away from their moral obligation” and not finding a compromise on police reform.

“This executive order is no substitute for legislation. Nor does it accomplish everything we know must be done,” Harris continued. “But it is a necessary and long overdue critical step forward.”

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