Florida’s Val Demings: On police reform, ‘the president does not go far enough’

U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). Photo by Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images.

Top Florida Democrats were largely unmoved Tuesday by President Trump’s new executive order on police misconduct, saying it didn’t address key issues related to racism amid nationwide outrage over injustices in communities of color.

Trump’s order, signed earlier in the day, seeks to bolster efforts to track police misconduct and encourage tougher police trainings and standards. It would also require police departments to report misconduct to a national database.

U.S. Rep Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, acknowledged that the president’s order would help but said it didn’t go far enough.

“I think the president is certainly on the right track with a national database so we can prevent officer misconduct, and prevent officers who may be fired from one agency and prevent them from going and being hired by another agency,” Demings said.

“On the other hand, and it doesn’t surprise me, the president does not go far enough. He’s still campaigning and not looking at the obvious problem right in front of us — what happened to George Floyd, what happened in Atlanta, that we’ve got to make sure that we’re acknowledging that systemic racism still exists and it rears its ugly head,” she added.

Demings, who’s been mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, joined Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party; and Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, in a virtual press conference to discuss what they called “Trump’s five years of broken promises and failed leadership on key issues.”

The Department of Justice should be “serious about beefing up civil rights departments” to conduct thorough investigations, but also should set “a serious law enforcement office of standards and training,” Demings said.

She hopes the U.S. Senate will pass the House Democrats’ expansive police reform bill  — titled the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 — which would ban choke-holds and no-knock warrants at a federal level, and increase police accountability.

“Can’t we come together on this issue and pass this act and, I surely hope, the president will sign it,” she said.

Demings pointed to her own experience in law enforcement — she was chief of police in Orlando — and social work, saying police chiefs across the nation should “look at who you’re hiring” and “certainly look at de-escalating training.”

“I’ve been on both sides of this issue, as a social worker and as a law enforcement officer, I’ve enforced the laws and now I write them,” she said.

Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.