Trump falsely claims Obama made no police reforms – after rolling back those very policies

Restrictions lifted on supply of military equipment, while public investigations ended, and limits placed on 'Consent Decrees' that legally enforced police reforms

Justin Vallejo
New York
Wednesday 17 June 2020 19:01 BST
Trump says chokeholds will be banned unless officers feel their lives are at risk

After the dismantling of Obama-era reforms on policing, Donald Trump singled out Barak Obama and Joe Biden for failing to fix policing during their eight years in office.

Mr Trump signed an executive order at the White House on Tuesday that would, in part, ban chokeholds, create a database of excessive force complaints, and incentivise de-escalation training and the hiring of mental health experts.

Senator Chuck Schumer said that one "inadequate" executive order would not make up for the Trump administration's recent policies designed to roll back the progress made in previous years under the Obama administration.

"He said President Obama did nothing on police reform. But the fact is, they made a lot of progress, and President Trump rolled it back," Mr Schumer said.

During his Rose Garden address to announce the police reforms, Mr Trump focused on "many of the same politicians now presenting themselves as the solution are the same ones who have failed for decades on schools, jobs, justice, and crime".

"President Obama and Vice President Biden never even tried to fix this during their eight-year period. The reason they didn't try is they had no idea how to do it," he said.

Mr Biden's deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said that Mr Trump knew he was making untrue statements.

"He knows that isn't true because he has spent the past three years tearing down the very reforms the Obama-Biden administration pursued," she said to NBC.

The report highlights a number Obama-era policies that have been overturned since Mr Trump took office, including a 2017 decision to reverse restrictions on surplus military gear that the Department of Defence could supply to police departments.

The measure had been put in place following the use of riot gear to control public unrest after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.

Also in 2017, the Justice Department said it would end the policy of investigating police departments and issuing public reports.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, issued a memo before his ouster that limited the use of "consent decrees", which are legal agreements between police and the Justice Department that mandated reforms.

"In particular, it requires that the Department provide state and local governmental entities an adequate opportunity to respond to any allegations of legal violations; requires special caution before using a consent decree to resolve disputes with state or local governmental entities," Mr Sessions wrote.

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