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Biden to sign executive order to reform police practices

The order will create a national registry of officers fired for misconduct and encourage state and local police to tighten restrictions on chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants.
President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden unsuccessfully pushed Congress to pass a comprehensive police reform law, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to sign a long-awaited executive order to reform policing practices Wednesday, the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd.

The order will create a national registry of officers fired for misconduct; encourage state and local police to tighten restrictions on chokeholds and so-called no-knock warrants; and restrict the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies, said two sources familiar with the matter.

Biden had been pushing Congress to pass more comprehensive police reform legislation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. But after the legislation failed to garner bipartisan support, the White House began crafting its own action last year. 

Floyd’s family is expected to be at the White House on Wednesday, one of the people familiar with the matter said. The family of Floyd, who died after he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer, had a private meeting with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last year on the first anniversary of his death.

The families of Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain are also expected to be in attendance, a senior administration official said.

The news of Biden's executive order was first reported by The New York Times.

Police reform has been a key issue with the Democratic Party's progressive base, particularly among Black voters. 

“We know full well that an executive order cannot address America’s policing crisis the same way Congress has the ability to, but we’ve got to do everything we can,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement before the White House announcement. "There’s no better way to honor George Floyd’s legacy than for President Biden to take action by signing a police reform executive order."

The White House had aimed for Biden to sign an executive order before his first State of the Union address in March. 

The Justice Department in September put new limits on chokeholds and "no-knock" warrants for the department’s law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Law enforcement will be required to intervene and stop the use of excessive force when they see it and administer medical aid to those who are injured, another senior administration official said.

While Biden cannot directly issue mandates to state and local law enforcement agencies, senior administration officials who briefed reporters Tuesday said attorneys general should use their power to award grants that promote and support agencies in getting accredited or those that want to adopt such policies but could use some federal help.