US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning the use of chokeholds but rejected calls to defund or dismantle the police.
Mr Trump said the order, which he signed after meeting families of victims of police brutality, is aimed at encouraging best practices and tracking officers with excessive use of force complaints.
But one civil rights group slammed the order for not going far enough to end police violence and racism.
Mr Trump was also criticised for using the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday morning (Australian time) as a campaign rally following weeks of protests prompted by the death of George Floyd.
“Today is about pursuing common sense and fighting, fighting for a cause like we seldom get the chance to fight for,” Mr Trump said.
Under the order, police will have to employ the latest standards for use of force and improve information sharing so that officers with poor records are not hired without their backgrounds being known.
They will also be required to have social workers with them when responding to non-violent cases involving drug addiction and homelessness.
“Americans want law and order, they demand law and order,” Mr Trump said.
He offered his condolences to the families of victims of recent violence at the hands of police and others, and vowed to pursue justice.
But he opposed calls to “defund the police” by reimagining or even dismantling police departments.
“Without police, there’s chaos,” Mr Trump said.
“Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe.
“Americans also believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency and invest more resources in police training, recruiting and community engagement.”
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights head Vanita Gupta said: “While the order takes some steps forward, it is an inadequate response to a nation demanding sweeping, bold action.”
In his public comments and on Twitter, Mr Trump has called for crackdowns on protesters and emphasised a forceful and militarised response to the social unrest.
Opinion polls show widespread concerns among Americans about police brutality.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to vote later in June on sweeping legislation put forward by the Congressional Black Caucus to rein in police misconduct.