FACT CHECK: Donald Trump Claims The Obama Administration ‘Did Nothing’ On Police Reform

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

President Donald Trump claimed during a June 17 Fox News interview with anchor Sean Hannity that the Obama administration “did nothing” on the issue of police reform.

Verdict: False

The Obama administration attempted to address police reform in a number of ways.

Fact Check:

Trump gave a phone interview on “Hannity” Wednesday that, among other things, touched on the president’s recent efforts to address policing problems. The previous day, he had signed an executive order that includes incentivizing police departments to meet higher standards for the use of force and de-escalation training. The executive order comes amid nationwide protests against police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

During the “Hannity” interview, Trump claimed that “the previous administration, and, frankly, many administrations, they did nothing on this” in regards to police reform. But that is incorrect, as the Obama administration attempted to address police misconduct in a number of ways. (RELATED: Does Joe Biden Support Defunding The Police, As Donald Trump Claims?)

Following the 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the Obama administration created the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that sought to “strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction,” according to a White House fact sheet. The task force, which New York University School of Law Policing Project Director Barry Friedman described as “one of the most far-reaching examinations since the 1960s,” put out a comprehensive list of recommendations on how to improve policing in its 2015 final report, per The New York Times.

Obama also signed an executive order in 2015 that placed new limits on the transfer of surplus military gear to law enforcement agencies. That executive order banned the transfer of certain military equipment, including grenade launchers, tracked armored vehicles, bayonets and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher, according to The Hill. Trump rescinded the executive order in 2017.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department conducted “pattern or practice” investigations of 25 police departments and enforced 14 consent decrees mandating reforms, according to a press release from early January 2017. The Trump administration has curtailed the use of “pattern or practice” investigations and consent decrees, per The Washington Post.

The Obama-era Justice Department also awarded grants totaling more than $23.2 million to law enforcement agencies around the country to expand the use of body cameras, according to a press release. (RELATED: Donald Trump Claims DC Mayor ‘Wouldn’t Let The DC Police Get Involved’ With May 29 White House Protest)

While some debate the efficacy of such reforms, it is clear that the Obama administration took steps to address police misconduct. We rate Trump’s assertion that the previous administration “did nothing” on the issue of police reform false.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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