President Trump says he’s preparing an executive order that encourages police to adopt the “most professional” use of force standards — while urging “the opposite” of defunding cops.
Trump teased his policy response to the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd during a Thursday visit to Texas, saying he wanted people to “work together” on solutions to racial inequality.
“We’re not defunding police. If anything we’re going the other route, we’re going to make sure that our police are well-trained, perfectly trained and have the best equipment… We’re going to have stronger police forces because that’s what you need,” Trump said.
Trump ridiculed the mounting Democratic advocacy of defunding or abolishing police departments.
“I heard they want to close up all police forces,” Trump said. “What happens late at night when you make that call to 911 and there’s nobody there? What do you do, whether you’re white, black, or anybody else, what do you do?”
He turned to a church pastor and joked, “We want to think the best, but you have some very violent people.”
Trump said his administration is preparing a four-step response to mass protests after Floyd’s death, in addition to the executive order to “encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.”
He added: “That means force, but force with compassion. But if you’re going to have to really do a job, if somebody is really bad, you’re going to have to do it with real strength, with real power.”
The administration is launching a broad initiative in response to national unrest, he said. The push includes an effort to expand loans to minority-owned small businesses, a boost in the quality of minority-serving medical centers, a pilot program where social workers accompany police, and a legislative push for vouchers allowing students to leave low-quality public schools.
Trump regaled his audience on how his encouragement of tough policing tactics and use of the National Guard restored order in some places.
When the National Guard entered Minneapolis at his urging, “it was like a knife cutting butter,” the president recounted. “Yes there was some tear gas and probably some other things… it was a short evening.”
Before national guardsmen arrived, activists burned down a police precinct. “They were running down the street,” Trump said of the officers. “I’m pretty good at construction. I want to tell you, that was almost what we call a complete renovation, if you’re lucky. And it was a very sad thing.”
“I said we have to dominate the streets, you can’t let that happen, what happened in New York City — the damage they’ve done, you have to dominate,” Trump said.
“And I was criticized for that statement. I made the statement ‘we have to dominate the street ‘and they said, ‘Oh, that’s such a terrible thing.’ Well, guess what, you know who dominated the streets? People that you don’t want to dominate the streets, look at the damage they did. So I’ll stick with that.”
Trump denounced Seattle officials for continuing to tolerate a six-block “free zone” declared by protesters, saying, “that couldn’t happen here, I don’t think, in the state of Texas.”
Activists in Seattle are demanding Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan resign from office for opposing the abolition of the city’s police. Trump clashed Thursday with local officials, calling on them to clear of the protest encampment, which include’s an abandoned police station. “Seattle would be so easy to solve,” Trump said.
Protesters across the country “destroyed businesses, they’ve destroyed African-American owned small businesses that hopefully they’re going to come back,” he said.
Trump said policy responses to the unrest should feature common ground. In Congress, House Democrats this week proposed a large package of policing reforms. Senate Republicans also are working on a proposal. Attorney General William Barr has opposed a Democratic effort to increase civil liability for police officers, saying it would result in cops “pulling back.”
In Texas, Trump said it was important to have political consensus on reforms.
“We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear,” Trump said. ” We’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racists or bigots. We have to get everybody together.”
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