State Dining Room
2:17 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have some of the true leaders in our country of law enforcement. And that’s what they’ve done: They’ve enforced the laws. They’ve done a fantastic job of it. We have among the best numbers we’ve ever had in terms of recorded history, certainly.
But this has been a very strong year for less crime. Let’s put it that way: less crime. And there’s a reason for less crime, and it’s because we have great law enforcement. I’m very proud of them.
There won’t be defunding. There won’t be dismantling of our police. And there’s not going to be any disbanding of our police. Our police have been letting us live in peace.
We want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there. And sometimes you’ll see some horrible things, like we witnessed recently. But 99 — I say 99.9, but let’s go with 99 percent of them are great, great people. And they’ve done jobs that are record setting. Record setting. So our crime statistics are at a level that they haven’t been at.
And I just want to go around the room and just ask each one of the folks to say hello and tell a little bit about themselves and the success they’ve had. And then we’re going to go and have a meeting as to where we go from here. Okay? Thank you.
CAPTAIN YOES: Mr. President, thank you. Thank you for allowing us to come today and talk about something that —
THE PRESIDENT: Press that button. Yeah.
CAPTAIN YOES: Thank you for hosting this meeting and the ability to be able to talk about some very important things to law enforcement. This last year has been very trying to law enforcement.
My name is Patrick Yoes. I’m the national president for the Fraternal Order of Police. In the last year, we’ve — or, actually, the last few months, we’ve been — we’ve dealt with COVID. We’ve lost 117 officers across this country who have been exposed to COVID.
And I thank you for your leadership in recognizing there’s not a single thing in the law enforcement profession — when we were trying to bring hope to our communities during this pandemic, that we were — we did not receive some great assistance from your administration. So thank you for that support.
But we’re dealing with another crisis now, a crisis that’s really pushing us to our limits. I don’t know a law enforcement officer across this country who — who’s not just appalled by the incident that occurred in Minneapolis. But that one incident certainly doesn’t reflect on the 800,000 men and women across this country that go to work every single day and try and make their communities better. So thank you for the chance to have dialogue.
Looking at us as a profession, we recognize that there’s — it’s time for us to have some good, deep discussion, and look within and find ways to improve the criminal justice system.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
CAPTAIN YOES: And I stand here to tell you that we — we want a seat at the table and have that discussion. So thank you for hosting us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Patrick, very much. I appreciate it.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL MOODY: Mr. President, thank you so much for hosting this meeting. First and foremost, we have to ensure — before we can collaborate and make progress on areas in the criminal justice arena, we have to make sure we have space to do that, and law and order controls. And we appreciate you focusing on what is important: that people have the ability to express their opinions and protest in a peaceful way. But we cannot have attacks on law enforcement, looting. This is — this will dismantle what we have built for so long.
In Florida, we are at a 48-year crime rate low. We have not been this low in crime in some time. And I believe it is people like you that have supported law enforcement. And I believe in any administration, in any criminal justice system, in any state, we can always make improvements. And I admire that you are willing to dig in and have these conversations and do that.
I think that, moving forward, the idea that we would ever dismantle our police administrations — coming from not only as the attorney general of the great state of Florida, as a federal prosecutor, or as a judge for over a decade, but as the wife of a law enforcement officer, I see what these men and women do for our communities. They rush in to save us when other people rush out. They deliver babies. They charge in when someone is hyped up on fentanyl and just beat his wife and his kids, and rescue them. I mean, we expect great things. We have to support them. We have to ensure that they’re safe. And at the same time, we must remain committed to improving our system. And I admire that about you, President Trump, that you’re willing to do that. And we stand ready to assist you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Ashley. You’re doing a great job in Florida. I get the word you’re doing a great job. Thank you.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL MOODY: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SERGEANT PRIDE: Thank you, Mr. President, and staff here at the White House for hosting this meeting. My name is Rob Pride, and I’m the national chairman of trustees for the Fraternal Order of Police. And I’m also here today as a — as a sergeant, working the streets during this time of crisis in our nation.
And the reason I’m so happy to be here today to represent the rank and file is because, number one, it is important for everybody to know that there is not one law enforcement officer in the country that I’ve spoken to with friends and colleagues from all over the country that looked at this horrific incident and remotely thought that there was anything right about it. The great vast majority of men and women in law enforcement are appalled by what happened. But that vast majority is also, as the President has always said — already said — those are the good men and women of law enforcement who work hard every day to make their community safe.
And on behalf of that rank and file, we applaud this meeting and we’re glad to be here, because there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind, as General Moody already said, that there’s room for improvement. And we know that.
And we’re happy to be at the table, and we’re happy to welcome that input and do what we can to be better — better police in this country, better police for our citizens and our communities. And we’re happy to be a part of this conversation, and that’s why we’re here.
So, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Rob.
SERGEANT PRIDE: I very much appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rob. Great job.
SERGEANT PRIDE: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve known each other a long time now. Really good.
MR. KUSHNER: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you all for joining. We’ve really, over the last three and a half years, have had the opportunity to grow very close with law enforcement. We worked very closely together to bring forward to this country criminal justice reform. The law enforcement community heard the cries from the community, saw the injustices in the system that needed to be fixed, and they responded by coming together to fix it. And it’s been a great partnership to do that.
Those reforms make our communities safer and have made our system fair. And that’s the type of action that we’ve been able to accomplish by working together. So what we’ve seen in the past is that the meetings together and the work together doesn’t just result in reports and in nice talking points; it actually results in progress and actual policies that make people’s lives better and make communities safer.
So it’s an honor to work together. And hopefully, at this time where there’s a lot of people in the country who are feeling different pain and feeling different concerns, law enforcement can be a leader in coming together and helping us work towards bringing solutions that can bring this country forward.
So thank you very much for the partnership.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jared. Thank you.
MR. SMITH: Thanks so much, Mr. President. And thank you to all the law enforcement individuals in the room and for the work that you do on a daily basis.
You know, when I saw what happened with George Floyd, it really made my heart sunk. It hit me to my core, as well as a lot of the other lives that have been lost.
You know, as an African American, you know, I live in Southeast D.C. and live in a paradox where, you know, my wife is sometimes scared to walk the streets by herself. And — but then, on — in the same vein, as an individual, I’ve also had the fear of being in certain neighborhoods or driving certain types of cars as an African American, just because of my relationship with the police. And there’s a lot of African American males across the country that have stories like that that they can share.
But I think law enforcement is there to, kind of, thread the needle and help us and protect us, and not to be demonized. And it’s been very, very tough to see what happened and what’s been impacting a lot of families across the country.
But I think if we want real reform, like real reform that can change communities, it starts with law enforcement and partnering with them, not demonizing them — because I have a lot of law enforcement individuals in my life, and they’re some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. And we can’t let some bad apples represent something that’s a core of any community.
And so we look forward to continuing to partner with you all to find solutions, because that’s one thing I’ve learned with working under President Trump’s leadership: that we’re not just about talk; we’re about action and communities leading, under your leadership, sir, for you to take action.
And it’s been — it’s been an honor to serve, and I look forward to the discussion.
THE PRESIDENT: Great to have you with us. Great job you’re doing, too. Thank you.
CHIEF CASSTEVENS: Good afternoon, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. Again, thank you for putting this important meeting together — probably one of the most important meetings in our profession in my 43 years as a law enforcement officer.
And, you know, I won’t echo some of the things that have been said about the horrific incident that brought us here today, but what I will say is this: What it’s going to take to make the appropriate changes in law enforcement is courageous leadership. And there are countless courageous leaders in law enforcement across this nation that — that are willing to step up to the plate and look at new ideas to — to make our profession better and how we connect with our community.
And I think one of the most important things, Mr. President, that you have done is you’ve listened to IACP and something we’ve wanted and asked for, for two decades, and that’s a National Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice. And I want to thank you for establishing that, because now, more than ever, that commission is incredibly important. So, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Thank you very much.
Mr. VP? Please.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. President. And we’re here to listen. I want to thank the attorney generals who are here, but most especially, Sergeant, Chief, others: Thank you. Thanks for what you represent, which is really the best of America.
I told Chief Casstevens that my uncle was a police officer in Chicago for 25 years. And I grew up with my three brothers and two sisters with great memories of visiting my grandparents in Chicago, seeing my uncle in his uniform, seeing him walk out the door, put his life on the line to protect and serve.
And I want to promise you that you have a President and you have an administration that is always going to stand with the men and women who serve, and at great risk and great sacrifice, protect our communities.
I’m also, though, very grateful, Mr. President, to hear this afternoon a desire to have a conversation about how we can improve. As Jared just shared a moment ago, this President has already demonstrated his willingness to improve our justice system in this country — passing historic criminal justice reform. And I want to express my appreciation to the law enforcement officials who are here at this table today who were with us when we brought that bipartisan legislation forward, Mr. President, at your direction.
And we’re always about the business of making a more perfect union. And we’re going to be about that now. In the wake of the tragic event of now — now almost two weeks ago, we want to hear from you about how we can improve, but improve in a way that builds on that foundation of, really, the finest men and women in our country, the bravest men and women in our country: the men and women of law enforcement; and how we make sure that the men and women who dedicate their lives to law enforcement, who take risks every single day to keep our community safe, are properly supported and that the — and that the resources from the federal government, the support from state and local authorities are going to continue to hold up those honorable men and women who serve and protect every day.
So thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to all of those who are here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mike, very much.
MS. ROLLINS: Mr. President, it’s an honor to be here with you. Obviously, I’ve been part of your team for now more than two years, taking over the Domestic Policy Council just about a month ago, but running the Office of American Innovation before that.
What I want to say very briefly is this: Three months ago, on this side of the White House, we gathered almost a thousand black leaders from around this country as we were celebrating Black History Month. And in that celebration, you talked about having the lowest unemployment, the lowest poverty rate this country had ever seen. It was a remarkable feat that deserved such great celebration.
But here we are three months later, and it is a different time for our country. But on Friday, we had another major announcement: two and a half-plus million jobs created in a time of such darkness and destruction. And it reminded me that while we are in the midst of the great American comeback, while we are going to be renewing and rebuilding and restoring this country, that none of it is possible without our law enforcement; that none of it is possible without real safety and real security in this country.
So, really, for the great American comeback, with your leadership, Mr. President, as we cut poverty rates again and we slash unemployment again, and we build a country where every man, woman, and child has a real shot at the American Dream — it begins today.
I believe it begins with the people in this room. It begins with a law enforcement that is supported, that is stood up, and that I know you and the Vice President and all of us stand beside as we move forward.
So, thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great job.
MR. HOELSCHER: Mr. President, thank you very much. I’m really pleased to work very closely with folks like Sheriff Childress and Attorney General Cameron and Attorney General Moody who took their time to come up here to be a part of this very important conversation. As somebody who has law enforcement in my family as well, it’s a very important conversation.
And again, everybody that I’ve talked to at the elected leader level, but also at the rank-and-file level, was just appalled by what happened in Minneapolis. But out of that comes a commitment, a redoubling to make improvement across the country at the state and local and federal level.
And I’m really pleased to have such strong partners in the Intergovernmental Affairs Office to work with, to help make that progress under your leadership, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mark?
MR. MEADOWS: Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership and thank each one of you for being here today. When the cameras are not rolling and when there’s no reporters around, there’s unbelievable work that has been going on and will continue to go on to make sure that it’s not just words, that it’s actions.
Mr. President, you’ve been a president of action. And for such a time as this, action, again, will speak louder than words. And all of you that are gathered around this table today, we thank you for your action to be here and for the action that will come from this.
So, it’s pleasure to serve you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mark, very much.
SHERIFF CHILDRESS: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and the administration for allowing us to sit down with you once again today. We just want you to know that you are a friend. You have been very supportive of law enforcement. As a matter of fact, I’ve been 29 years with Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. Tony Childress is my name, and I am the sheriff of Livingston County, which is the fourth largest county in the state of Illinois. We’re 90 miles south of Chicago. I call it “rural Central” Illinois.
And we have an ideology that I feel, and many others feel, works very well. And that ideology is being a friend of the community, supporting the community with programs like Shopping with the Sheriff, like Halloween with the children, always being there as a listening ear for the community and working with the community.
And, Mr. President, we are happy to sit down with you and to try and do everything we can to make this nation better, by keeping the community safe and by working with you and the nation and making a better place.
Some of the things that we feel, in Livingston County, will be very important is mandatory de-escalation training for all officers; prohibition of all physical restraint maneuvers on or above the neck and any physical acts that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain; requiring all officers to render medical aid to all people; and requiring officers to intervene when physical forces are being applied to either stop or attempt forces that are being inappropriately applied and is no longer required.
So we look forward to working with you to hopefully get legislation involved in making these things true and making them law. And we just thank you again for allowing us to be here, and know that you have a friend in Illinois, and anything you need, just let us know.
Thank you again.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Tony. You do a great job, too. Appreciate it.
SHERIFF CHILDRESS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Bill, please.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Thank you, Mr. President, for convening this session. It’s good to join with all my friends and colleagues from the law enforcement community, many of whom I’ve worked with over the years.
The — I think law enforcement fully understands and has understood for some time the distrust that exists in the African American community toward the criminal justice system. And as I’ve been reflecting on this over the past few days and weeks, it struck me that for most of our history — in fact, maybe just up to 60 years ago — the law was explicitly discriminatory and did not provide equal protection. It’s only been since the early ’60s that our law has actually provided equal protection to African Americans.
And what we’ve had over the past 50 years or so is reform of our institutions so that they reflect those values — the values upon which our country was founded. And some institutions, such as the military, have done an excellent job of reforming. And law enforcement has too. That’s one thing I understand from being Attorney General 30 years ago.
And what makes me very optimistic today is that the law enforcement leaders that we deal with — and you all know this — no one is more committed to reforming the criminal justice system and the profession of policing today. And there hasn’t been a President recently who has been more committed. He didn’t require the crisis we have today to get started with the FIRST STEP Act and with establishing a commission, which has been looking at the very issues we’re dealing with today.
And I know there’s a lot of interest among police leaders for clarity and guidance on the use of force on some of the issues you were just talking about, Sheriff: making sure the standards are out there, making sure they are trained, and making sure they are adhered to. And we’re looking forward to working with you to get that done.
The time for waiting is over. It’s now incumbent on us to bring good out of bad. And we can do it, and the commitment is there in law enforcement to do it. So let’s get it done.
Finally, just let me say that the other aspect of this is the rule of law and the need for law and order. Above the Department of Justice’s main entrance is the Latin phrase that, from law and order, everything else comes. It’s the foundation of civilization. And we have to make sure — it’s our responsibility to make sure that our country is ruled by law and not by violence.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Bill. Well said. Thank you very much.
And Daniel — I got to know Daniel in Kentucky. He is a superstar in the making, if he’s not already a superstar. But he had an incredible race, and we watched it together. And congratulations on that. That was some — that was some evening, right?
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL CAMERON: Thank you, Mr. President. It was.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, please.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL CAMERON: And obviously, I was grateful for your support and grateful for your leadership on this current issue. We obviously have had the challenges with COVID-19, and now we are starting to see civil unrest in our society as it relates to some of the challenges that, frankly, black and brown communities have had, as General Barr so eloquently stated it.
We have a responsibility in this room, with all of our law enforcement partners, to look for ways, as we move forward, to do it better, to become better citizens, to become better neighbors.
And I’m so thankful for the men and women of our law enforcement community that recognize the importance in sincere — sincerity of that need and have the interest not only to protect and serve, but also to demonstrate understanding of the challenges and look for ways to heal the fabric of this nation.
We, as General Barr said, cannot allow for chaos in our streets. We can allow for peaceful protests, but we cannot allow for chaos; we cannot allow for violence. Those in this room know that. Those that have been peacefully protesting know that.
But our challenge today is how can we move together to better our communities, to better our society in a meaningful way. I’m honored to be a part of that discussion, as somebody from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who represents Kentucky and understand some of the civil unrest that we were seeing there.
So I appreciate you assembling this roundtable. I appreciate all of you all that are here to be a part of this conversation. And I look forward to working with you all and collaborating to better our communities and our society.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL CAMERON: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Dan. Proud of you.
So it’s very interesting because I just see, in some of the papers, they want to end the police department — quote, “end the police department” in Minneapolis. End it. What does that mean, “end it”?
They had a couple of very rough nights, and they had a third night which was not good. They abandoned their police precinct — something I’ve never seen before. You had a mayor that asked them to abandon, and now they’ve abandoned the mayor, it looks like. Very — the opposite of far thinking. You know, you say “far thinking.” Is that far thinking?
So they had three really bad nights, and then we — we — I insisted on bringing in the National Guard, and all of a sudden, it was like magic. It was in good shape. They helped with the police, but the police were told to leave their posts. Nobody has ever seen anything like that.
But we insisted on having protection for that great city or that great state. A great state — Minnesota. What a horrible thing. That’s where it started, and we ended very strong there once we got involved. We got involved right from the White House, and we weren’t going to let that happen to that city or that state. And I think a lot of people took notice.
The police are doing an incredible job. As I said, their records are being broken, in terms of lack of crime. Lack of crime — where they had a tremendous year, tremendous 12 months; a tremendous 36 months, I think you can say, during the term. And then you add six months to that. Three and a half years — it’s gone by very quickly.
But we’ve had a tremendous record on crime. And we’re going to work, and we’re going to talk about ideas — how we can do it better and how we can do it, if possible, in a much more gentle fashion.
A thing like happened should never have happened, and plenty of things shouldn’t have happened. But we can’t give up the finest law enforcement anywhere in the world. There’s nothing like it. Few people, few countries have our record, and I’m talking about the positive record.
So we’re going to be discussing some ideas and some concepts and some things. But we won’t be defunding our police. We won’t be dismantling our police. We won’t be disbanding our police. We won’t be ending our police force in a city. I guess you might have some cities that want to try, but it’s going to be very — a very sad situation if they did because people aren’t going to be protected.
These people do a tremendous job of protecting citizens of our country, and that’s what — that’s what they’re paid for. But whether they were paid or not, that’s what they do.
And, you know, somebody put it very beautifully before, where they said: They protect people, risk their own lives for people they’ve never seen before — people, in many cases, they don’t know. You’re protecting the lives of people you don’t know. And it’s a — it’s an incredible thing.
It’s a great honor to be with you all. And we’ll have a little discussion now. Thank you all very much for being here.
Thank you. Thank you very much.