President Donald Trump laid out a four-point plan to address disparities in the United States after meeting with pastors, law enforcement officials, and small-business owners at a Dallas church.
The president said he is trying to “build safety and opportunity and dignity.”
The new model calls for increasing access to capital for business owners in minority communities, dealing with racial disparities in health care, implementing an executive order to have police departments meet professional standards on use of force as well as a pilot program for social workers to be employed in police departments, and a push to have Congress pass a bill on school choice.
Trump appeared to be responding to numerous nationwide protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody.
During the protests, a new slogan to “defund the police” began to circulate. However, Trump and a number of congressional leaders, including Democrats, have rejected such calls, while Democrats have unveiled a bill for sweeping reforms.
“We’ll take care of our police … we’re not defunding police,” Trump said. “If anything, we’re going the other route: We’re going to make sure that our police are well trained, perfectly trained, they have the best equipment.”
Attorney General William Barr, who has denounced violence and rioting during the George Floyd protests, also attended the event.
“Americans are good and virtuous people. We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots,” Trump said.
On the first point, Trump said his administration is “aggressively pursuing economic development in minority communities,” which will go above Opportunity Zones.
Meanwhile, the government will confront “healthcare disparities, including addressing chronic conditions and investing substantial sums in minority-serving medical institutions,” Trump said. “We have medical institutions in some areas of our country that are a disgrace,” he said, adding that “we’ll take care of it.”
“Third, we’re working to finalize an executive order that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation,” he said, without offering more details.
The executive order on police reform will go in tandem with a pilot program to have social workers join law enforcement officers.
The last point, regarding school choice, is the major “civil rights issue of our time,” the president said.
“When you can have children go to a school where their parents want them to go, and it creates competition, and other schools fight harder because, all of a sudden, they say, ‘Wow. We’re losing it. We have to fight hard.’ It gets better in so many different ways,” he said.
At the state level, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would sign a package of bills on criminal justice and police reform following the protests. Under the New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, his office said that state police agencies and local governments have to develop a plan that “reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs.”
They will have to enact the measures by April 2021 or lose state funding.