US President Donald Trump signs executive order on US police reform including ban on chokeholds with exceptions

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order on police reform. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order on policing to encourage better practices and establish a database to keep track of officers with a history of excessive use-of-force complaints.

Mr Trump stressed the need for higher standards and commiserated with mourning families, as he hailed the vast majority of officers as selfless public servants and held his law-and-order line.

"Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals," he said before signing the order flanked by police.

The US President said that, under a new credentialing process, chokeholds will be banned "except if an officer’s life is at risk".

Chokeholds are already largely banned in police departments nationwide.

The US President and the Republicans have been rushing to respond to mass demonstrations against police brutality and racial prejudice that have raged for weeks across the country in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans.

It is a sudden shift for the Republican Party - and one Democrats are watching warily - that shows how quickly the protests have changed the political conversation and pressured Washington to act.

But Mr Trump, throughout the crisis, has continued to emphasise his support for law enforcement, and even on Tuesday railed against those who committed violence during the largely peaceful protests.

His executive order would establish a database that tracks police officers with excessive use of force complaints in their records.

It would give police departments a financial incentive to adopt best practices and encourage co-responder programmes, in which social workers join police when they respond to non-violent calls involving mental health, addiction and homeless issues.

Mr Trump framed his plan as an alternative to the "de-fund the police" movement that has emerged from the protests and which he slammed as "radical and dangerous".

"Americans know the truth: Without police there is chaos. Without law there is anarchy and without safety there is catastrophe," he said.

Mr Trump’s audience included police officials and members of Congress, and came after he met at the White House with the families of men and women who have been killed in interactions with police.

"To all of the hurting families, I want you to know that all Americans mourn by your side," he said, before adding "Your loved ones will not have died in vain."