A familiar if controversial face from Massachusetts law enforcement was at the White House Tuesday for President Donald Trump's ceremonial signing of an executive order on policing.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson stood nearby as Trump signed the order on police reform that would establish a database to track excessive use-of-force complaints against police officers and incentivize departments adopting best practices and co-responder programs.
Hodgson told NBC10 Boston after the ceremony that the bill was "long overdue," and that the heads of law enforcement agencies nationwide are happy to have a national standard fpr dealing with challenges in the community.
Hodgson has long been friendly with Trump, offering in January 2017 to send some of his inmates to help build the then-president-elect's border wall. Last month, an immigration detainee reportedly alleged that the sheriff hit him during an altercation over coronavirus testing at the county jail in an incident that sparked calls for an investigation.
Ahead of the signing ceremony for his executive order, Trump met with families of several Black Americans killed in interactions with police. But at the ceremony, he made no mention of racism, even as many across the nation are grappling with how to adjust policing's historical racial bias.
To Monica Cannon-Grant, founder of the advocacy group Violence in Boston, it was good that Trump met with families but his order only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.
"What does implementation look like? What does a civil review board with subpoena power look like? What does having citizens have stake in what happens with the police department– at this point they’re policing themselves," she said.
What she's really like the president to do is move trillions of dollars police departments to other kinds of state interventions, nonprofits and social justice programs.
Boston University professor Tom Whalen said some of the reforms in Trump's order are a good first step, but overall, it still lacks teeth.
"It still gives basically all police immunity from prosecution and lawsuits from their victims," Whalen said.