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Mayor's Office

Chief Phil Hart responds to Trump official’s baseless criticism of Flint PD

FLINT, Michigan—A senior Trump official lumped Flint in with Minneapolis while wrongly claiming that the City of Flint is operating under out-of-date, use-of-force policies.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Tuesday that limits use of chokeholds to situations when an officer is “met with deadly force.” However, the executive order falls short of banning the maneuver blamed for the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and untold others nationwide.

“On behalf of all the hardworking men and women in the Flint Police Department, I am outraged at this callous and unnecessary attack on our department. The use of chokeholds is banned throughout the entire state of Michigan and has been for decades,” Chief Hart said. “Don’t make Flint the scapegoat for your policy shortcomings.”

Flint has been held up as a national example for hosting peaceful protests, listening to resident concerns, and responding with concrete actions in the weeks since Mr. Floyd’s death.

Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon, Ja’Ron Smith, White House deputy assistant to the president, said: “When you look at Flint or Minneapolis those police departments haven’t updated their use of force policies for years, for (40?) years. And what we’re trying to do is incentivize all of them to set a standard and that standard includes chokeholds unless met with deadly force.”

Mr. Smith stumbled while talking so it is difficult to decipher from the recorded interview if he intended to say the City of Flint Police Department hadn’t updated its policies “for years, for years” or “for years, for 40 years.”

To be clear, the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards stopped allowing police to use chokeholds in the early to mid-1980s.

Flint City Council on June 8, 2020, passed a measure supporting an update to the Code of Conduct for Flint police to include a duty to intervene for all sworn and unsworn officers to protect residents from any mistreatment by another officer. The Response to Resistance policy was updated in September 2015. The Flint Police Department also follows the strict regulations set by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, which was revised in December 2017.

“The Trump administration could learn a thing or two from Flint and the state of Michigan,” Mayor Neeley said. “Here, Flint police were dispatched to protect protesters, not silence them.”

Mayor Neeley also noted that the state response to COVID-19 through the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is among the best in the nation and is believed to have saved thousands of lives.