Loudoun Sheriff Michael L. Chapman joined President Donald Trump for the ceremonial signing of the president’s Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities.
The executive order incentivizes higher standards of training for use of force and de-escalation tactics. However the executive order has been criticized by reform advocates for not going far enough—including in a statement from Amnesty International. Kristina Roth, the Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, said the executive order “amounts to a band-aid for a bullet wound, and the public will not be easily fooled by half measures when this moment is calling for transformational change of policing,” pointing out that in cases such as the death of Eric Garner at police hands, the chokehold used by New York policeman Daniel Pantaleo was already banned by department policy.
Chapman said the executive order is “the first step to ensure that high standards and law enforcement accountability are promoted nationwide.”
“I have remained committed in Loudoun County to the training of our deputies to protect and preserve life and to meet or exceed nationally recognized best practices,” Chapman wrote by email.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office already puts all uniformed deputies with two or more years on patrol through Crisis Intervention Training, a program of de-escalation that the sheriff’s office credits with reducing use of force by deputies, particularly when dealing with people who suffer mental illnesses. The 40-hour course introduces students to the social, psychological, and legal aspects associated with mental illness, along with Asperger’s, autism, and the Wounded Warrior Program.
Amid nationwide protests over police violence, especially against black people, Trump in his remarks at the signing said incidents of police killings and violence against black people are down to “a small number of bad police officers.”
“I use the word ‘tiny.’ It is a very small percentage, but you have them,” Trump said.
Chapman backed those comments.
“Considering there are over 800,000 law enforcement officers nationwide, approximately eighteen thousand law enforcement agencies in the United States, and tens of millions of police-citizen encounters annually, the actual number of violent incidents against African Americans by bad police officers is very small,” Chapman wrote.
The order also makes no mention of race.
“The Executive Order was designed to provide solutions to areas considered problematic to some agencies and is a good first step for law enforcement nationwide to adopt high professional standards,” Chapman wrote.
The photo op featured Chapman, other law enforcement executives and the president clustered closely together without masks, against CDC guidance for face coverings and social distancing. Chapman said he felt safe.
“I had my temperature checked twice and was tested for COVID 19, as I assume most – if not all attendees were,” Chapman wrote. “I felt very safe in that environment.”