Wednesday, August 10

Elijah McClain’s mother present as President Joe Biden signs police reform executive order


DENVER (KDVR) – President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon in an effort to make some major changes to promote police accountability.

The order came two years after George Floyd died while being detained by police in Minneapolis and nearly three years after Aurora Police forcibly held Elijah McClain on the ground and ejected him with what ended up being a lethal dose of ketamine.

President Biden’s order has some key similarities to reforms being made here at home.

He also called upon McClain’s mother, Sheneen, to witness the signing due to her role in sparking change locally. State lawmakers got to know McClain through working on local reform after her son’s death.

“She became an instrumental player in ensuring our police accountability bills went through. The first one during the protest and then the subsequent one last year. She was there, she was there for all of it,” said State Representative Leslie Herod, who sponsored two police reform measures in Colorado.

“Sheneen is a powerhouse, she is a powerhouse. And I know she would trade this work to have her son back any day, but I’m so proud and so honored and encouraged by her bravery and courage to step up, step out and make sure the laws are changed so no mom has to go through what she’s had to go through,” Herod said.

Sheneen McClain meets with Vice Presiden Kamala Harris during executive order signing. Credit. Qusair Mohamedbhai

McClain told FOX31 that the order signing was emotional for her.

“It’s not enough. It’s not just up to the President. It’s up to all those other people that have offices that are collecting money from the rest of us, from civilians. It takes all of us to get this done,” McClain said. “Full circle: yes, I appreciate being here, but there is still more that needs to be done.”

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The death of Elijah sparked demonstrations and prompted state lawmakers to pass two police reform laws in 2020 and 2021. The measures passed in Colorado call for law enforcement to wear body cameras, ban chokeholds and limit the use of force. The reform bill in Colorado takes effect next summer.

Biden’s new order specifically impacts federal police. It has a lot of similarities to Colorado’s bill but goes a bit further by limiting the use of no-knock entries. It’s a move Colorado lawmakers have called promising.

“To see the White House affirming Colorado’s first step, bold action around police accountability is encouraging. I hope to see more states do the work we have seen at the White House and here in Colorado but this also shows me there is more work to be done,” said Herod.

While Herod and other lawmakers who approved the bipartisan bill received criticism for leading the way on reform from local police agencies, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said they worked with the president to get this order signed.

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