Jacksonville police chief reacts to president’s executive order on policing

Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero says they don't teach some of the policies the order bans.
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 8:39 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As the calls for police reform have gotten louder nationwide, police agencies now have incentive to make changes.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that lays out guidelines on old policies that agencies should ban, and new policies to implement. The order includes a nationwide ban on chokeholds, like the practice used in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the 2014 killing of Eric Garner in New York.

The order also includes a national database of police officers, who have used excessive force in the past, and gives an incentive for agencies that increase training to meet standards established by the Department of Justice.

“We will have reform without undermining our many great and extremely talented law enforcement officers,” said Trump.

The chokehold ban includes an exception if the police officer feels his/her life is in danger. Jacksonville Police Chief Mike Yaniero said police officers in his department are trained to slow down and deescalate those potentially tense situations.

“That’s the training that we’ve given, and that’s the philosophy of the department. Our philosophy is that we protect the sanctity of life,” said Yaniero.

Yaniero said the state doesn’t teach the practices recommended to be banned under the President’s order, and that the Jacksonville department training changes have led to a 78% decrease in cases of excessive force in the city since 2012.

During a time of high tensions with law enforcement and protesters, former Onslow County NAACP President Al Burgess said, in order to heal some of that tension, the reforms alone just won’t be enough.

“That’s not the problem, the problem is that there is a double standard when it comes down to the way that the justice system does business,” said Burgess. He said the issue of police brutality is one of racial tension and a lack of compassion, not of policy or training. “The justice system and the laws that apply to the justice system disproportionately affect people of color,” said Burgess.

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