US President Joe Biden to sign executive order on police reform

The White House called the move "historic" in a press release, but the new executive order does not go as far as the major police reform Biden promised during his election campaign.

US President Joe Biden. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - Two years after African American George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer in a Minneapolis street, President Joe Biden will on Wednesday sign an executive order further regulating federal law enforcement.

The White House called the move "historic" in a press release, but the new executive order does not go as far as the major police reform Biden promised during his election campaign.

The text provides for the creation of a national register to list all reports, disciplinary procedures and complaints concerning members of federal law enforcement agencies, the administration said.

US states and local authorities, which are endowed with extensive powers in matters of law enforcement, will be "encouraged" to also join the register, and will be able to consult it.

The order also prohibits the use, again at the federal level, of carotid artery strangulation or compression techniques, except in exceptional situations.

It also limits law enforcement's ability to enter a property without due warning, a controversial policy known as "no knock."

The Biden administration will also ask federal law enforcement agencies to expand the use of body cameras during arrests and searches, and to release the images quickly in the event of a fatality.

The decree also states that lethal force should only be used when "necessary," and restricts the use of military equipment during police operations.

The date of the signing is highly symbolic, coming exactly two years after Floyd's death, which triggered huge nationwide demonstrations against racism and police brutality.

Biden will sign the executive order in the presence of members of Floyd's family, families of other victims of police brutality and law enforcement officials, a senior White House official said.

Floyd died of asphyxiation after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for more than nine minutes.

Biden had promised profound police reform on the campaign trail.

While the executive order allows him to bypass the problem of working a bill through Congress, where his Democratic party lacks a sufficient majority, it has a more limited scope and will only apply on the federal level, to the dismay of groups battling racism and police violence.