Attorney General Ellison attends ‘historic’ White House signing of executive order on policing and public safety
Invited to White House event with law enforcement leaders and attorneys general on second anniversary of George Floyd’s death; ‘President Biden is taking historic action… Congress is still failing to do its part’
May 25, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today attended President Biden’s signing of a “historic” executive order to advance effective, accountable policing and strengthen public safety. Attorney General Ellison attended the White House event — held on the second anniversary of the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of four then-Minneapolis police officers — with law enforcement leaders, the family of George Floyd, and attorneys general from states around the country.
“Thank goodness President Biden is taking this historic action,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Everyone in every community has a right to be safe, and President Biden has shown once again today he understands it’s government’s duty to help provide that safety. But Congress is still failing to do its part. Two years to the day after the death of George Floyd that sparked a worldwide cry for just policing and safety for all, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is still languishing in Congress. Congress is failing in its duty to build trust and keep all Americans safe — civilians and police officers both — so the President took decisive action.”
“It was an honor to be part of this historic moment and I am grateful to the President for taking these bold, historic steps that will help restore trust in policing and safety for all communities,” Attorney General Ellison added.
Highlights of executive order
Law enforcement accountability database. The most significant of the executive order’s 19 mandates requires the Attorney General to establish a National Law Enforcement Accountability Database. The database will “include records of officer misconduct (including convictions, terminations, de-certifications, civil judgments, resignations and retirements while under investigation for serious misconduct, and sustained complaints or records of disciplinary actions for serious misconduct), as well as commendations and awards.” Federal law enforcement agencies will be required to participate in it, and state and local law enforcement agencies are encouraged to participate.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case of George Floyd, had 18 complaints filed against him during his 19-year career.
Pattern-or-practice investigations. The executive order also strengthens pattern-or-practice investigations, by mandating steps to “improve the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights violations, including directing the issuance of best practices for independent investigations and improving coordination to address systemic misconduct through pattern-or-practice cases.”
“Under President Obama, the Department of Justice led by Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch had struck 25 consent decrees with law-enforcement agencies around the country. President Trump cancelled them all,” Attorney General Ellison said. “I am especially pleased that President Biden clearly understands that pattern-or-practice investigations are an effective and essential tool of accountability and trust and look forward to seeing them deployed more frequently.”
“It is not only Congress that needs to act; we need more action from the City of Minneapolis,” Attorney General Ellison added. “The Minnesota Department of Human Rights recently issued an exhaustive, 71-page pattern-or-practice report on the Minneapolis Police Department that it compiled over the course of nearly two years. It identifies critical areas for reform and healing and should be taken seriously, because giving these concerns the attention they deserve will make every Minneapolis community and neighborhood safer. I hope the City and State negotiate in good faith toward solid reform measures that will improve morale, trust, and safety in the community and in MPD. All parties should work constructively toward a consent decree.”
Officer wellness. The executive order also prioritizes officer wellness. Officer wellness was one of the five pillars of the broad-based State of Minnesota Working Group on Police-Involved Deadly-Force Encounters that Attorney General Ellison convened in 2019 with Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. The working group released 28 consensus recommendations and 33 action steps in February 2020, three months before the death of George Floyd.