Saturday, October 1, 2016

FOP Supports Trump While Raising Fear and Division

The national Fraternal Order of Police has made a decision to support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Portsmouth Police Captain Lynn Brewer recently wrote a Facebook post in which he claims he is “speaking for himself and referencing the overwhelming majority of police officers he has talked to.
In Portsmouth, the local FOP has followed the national endorsement of Trump. Brewer cites “two major issues” for their support:
  1. “There is an ever widening and increasingly violent racial divide occurring in our country. What we have seen is our president and attorney general almost immediately go on the attack of police in every instance instead of waiting for the facts. Even when the facts are out and they are found to be wrong, never a retraction. Hillary Clinton follows this same path.
    “We constantly hear talk from our leaders about what they think the problems are, but never movement towards bringing everyone together to begin to resolve them. They are the ones who are responsible for beginning the process of bringing about change.”
  2. “I am absolutely not anti-immigrant. I am however, completely opposed to bringing people to our country that hate the American way of life. Who despise Christians. Who believe that anyone that does not support Islam should be eliminated.
    “Include in that we are bringing in extremist that are killing Americans. They are killing us in large numbers and with increasing frequency. We are bringing them in claiming 'humanitarian reasons,' giving them free health care, free housing, food and spending money and they are coming here to force us to change our way of life to assimilate the way of life in the country they just fled from, or to kill us.
    “Is this all the immigrants, no. Is it some of them and we are not trying to prevent them from coming here. Absolutely.”
Captain Brewer says, “We believe that with Trump there is a chance things will get better. We believe with Clinton they will get far, far worse. Quite possibly to the point that the government attempts to take over our entire lives.”
“Take over our entire lives?” This fear-mongering is indicative of hard-core Trump supporters. In fact, Donald Trump uses the same rhetoric to appeal to those who are willing to succumb to prejudice. Over and over, Trump has voiced his divisive comments aimed at feeding the paranoia of particular segments of voters. I want to address the two issues Brewer raises as I question the support of Trump by Brewer and by the FOP.
Before addressing the issues, I must question the need of the FOP, as a law enforcement organization, to enter into partisan politics. That decision, in itself, is bound to be very divisive – divisive for police officers in a democracy that encourages choice and divisive for the public that already believes enforcement is too political. Why do public servants need to endorse a candidate and publicize this choice? Influence? Power? Control? I don't really know, do you?
Gary Cordner – a past member of two Fraternal Order of Police lodges from Allentown, Pennsylvania – is very disappointed about about the FOP endorsement. He says ...
“First and foremost, police ought to stay out of partisan politics. Second, endorsing a candidate who has repeatedly offered illegal, unconstitutional and grossly unethical proposals reflects very poorly on the FOP, whose members have undoubtedly taken oaths to uphold the law, defend the Constitution, and treat each and every person equally, with dignity and respect.”
(Gary Cordner. “FOP endorsement of Trump disappointing.” Editorial. The Morning Call. September 28, 2016.)
Point One – Racial Division
Is Trump prejudice and actually creating racial division? Well, the endorsement of Donald Trump by the Fraternal Order of Police appears to have driven a wedge between many black cops and their fellow officers.

In Philadelphia, the local FOP chapter has fallen in line and also endorsed the Republican presidential candidate, yet they did this over the objections of a group that represents some 2,500 African-American officers in the city which has branded Trump an "outrageous bigot."

"Our Local FOP is saying that our people have to follow the national lead," Rochelle Bilal, head of the Philadelphia Guardian Civic League, told NBC News. "We are saying you don't have to vote for Donald Trump and the national FOP should have stayed out of this election."

Bilal, a former Philadelphia cop who retired after 27 years on the force, said "those of us in law enforcement who are people of color are constantly trying to build bridges to the community, we're trying to build trust in law enforcement."

But "the Trump campaign is racist, sexist, anti-gay. It's a divisive campaign that's now dividing law enforcement," she said. Bilal told the Philadelphia Tribune. “We are saying that you don’t (have to support Trump – that when you know that you got Black, brown and other members of this organization, if you don’t care about supporting an outrageous bigot, then you need to find a way to give us our money back from our membership.”

(Avana Jones. “Trump support splits FOP, Black cops. The Philadelphia Tribune. September 20, 2016.)

In addition, another African-American police group, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, issued a statement condemning the FOP's endorsement of Trump.

"Is this endorsement a result of the surveying of the membership of individual unions that represent police officers or is this endorsement the result of a few individuals who may stand to benefit from a so-called law and order candidate who knows nothing about the criminal justice system and is opposed to basic reforms of the system," the statement read.

The group went on to encourage African-American police officers and other groups that represent them to "raise their voice in opposition to the endorsement of this candidate."

"He has no record of anything positive concerning criminal justice issues and concerns of our community," it says.

(Corky Siemaszko. “Black Cops at Odds With Fraternal Order of Police Over Trump Endorsement.” NBC News. September 22 2016.)
Trump also supports the controversial policing policy of Stop-and-Frisk. The law enforcement policy – in which police officers stop and question pedestrians regardless of whether they believe a crime has been committed, then search the pedestrians if the officers suspect violations – has been extremely controversial, particularly in communities of color. It has been the subject of several legal challenges alleging racial profiling and discrimination.

Opposition to the practice led police departments in New York, as well as Chicago and Newark, New Jersey, to agree to cut back on its use, in some cases submitting to outside monitoring and improving police training.

(Emily Flitter. “Trump praises 'stop-and-frisk police tactic.” Reuters. Sepember 22, 2016.)

Point Two – Immigration 

What does Trump say about immigration? Trump endorses profiling – both racial and religious. About Muslims, he says ...
"Well, I think there can be profiling. I mean… If they thought there was something wrong with that group and they saw what was happening, and they didn't want to call the police because they didn't want to be profiling, I think that's pretty bad. People are dead. A lot of people are dead right now. So everybody wants to be politically correct, and that's part of the problem that we have with our country…
“You have people that have to be tracked. If they're Muslims, they're Muslims. But you have people that have to be tracked. And we've better be --I use the word vigilance. We have to show vigilance. We have to have it. And if we don't, we're foolish people."
(CBS News, "Face the Nation Transcripts December 6, 2015: Trump, Christie, Sanders,", December 6, 2015.)

Trump's plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico is nothing more than a proposal for an ineffective financial disaster. And, his mixed messages on whom he would deport and when, and how the government would go about removing people from the country, represent vague, unrealistic threats. In fact, in his latest words, he says only that “the appropriate disposition of those individuals” will take place at some future date after the criminals are deported and his border wall is built.

And, Trump is Trump. He is prone to ignore facts. How about fact checking his immigration claims?
  • Trump cited federal data to claim that there are “at least 2 million … criminal aliens now inside our country.” But “criminal aliens” are those living in the U.S. both legally and illegally. An estimated 820,000 are illegally in the U.S., and about 690,000 of those were convicted of serious crimes.

  • Trump used a questionable figure for the costs of illegal immigration, claiming it was “$113 billion a year.” That’s from a conservative group, includes a sizable public education cost for U.S.-born children, and doesn’t factor in tax receipts. Other estimates show a modest state and local cost and a net positive impact on the federal budget.
  • He accurately cited a report that found “62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants” receive public welfare benefits, but he falsely claimed that this violates federal law. In fact, the benefits are primarily for U.S.-born children living in those households, the report said. 

  • He said that “we’ve admitted nearly 100,000 immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan” in the last five years. The U.S. admitted more than 108,000. But more than one-fifth of those obtaining legal permanent resident status were Iraqi and Afghan employees of the U.S. government. 

  • Trump falsely claimed that Clinton has a “plan to bring in 620,000 new refugees from Syria and that region over a short period of time.” Clinton last year proposed accepting 65,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal 2016, which ends Sept. 30. She has not said how many she would accept in fiscal 2017 or beyond.

(“Trump Still Off on Immigration.” September 01, 2016.)


Trump and Tranquilizing the Element of Criminals

In his book from 2000, The America We Deserve, Trump argued forcefully for “tranquilizing the criminal element” in society. He wrote in support of imprisoning more people and of so-called “broken windows” policing, the controversial approach to aggressively tackling low-level neighborhood offending. Several criminologists have since disputed that the approach is effective.

“The next time you hear someone saying there are too many people in prison, ask them how many thugs they’re willing to relocate to their neighborhood. The answer: None,” Trump wrote.

However, a coalition of senior law enforcement officials told Donald Trump that arrests and imprisoning fewer Americans were key to promoting “law and order.”

In an open letter to Trump, groups representing tens of thousands of police officers and prosecutors – the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National District Attorneys Association, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, and the Police Foundation – said that rehabilitation and shorter prison sentences would help reduce crime.

The letter stated, “Though this may seem counterintuitive, we know from our experience as law enforcement officials that over-relying on incarceration does not deter crime.”

The law enforcement officials urged the candidates to help shift funding from the tackling of minor crimes to dealing with the most violent and serious offenders, and to push for a reform of sentencing laws to reduce the prison population and give low-level offenders “a chance for redemption."

(Jon Swaine. “Law enforcement officials warn against Trump's 'tough on crime' policy.”The Guardian. July 13, 2016.)

Why has the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Trump?

The truth is the national FOP has endorsed only one Democrat for president – Bill Clinton in 1996. However, their political action in this case owes more to their unfounded fears and misguided trust than to their political alliance. In giving Trump their support, the FOP has purposely divided their camp along racial lines – effectively separating Trump's white “law and order” supporters from minority views.

In order to secure the FOP endorsement, Trump had to secure at least a two-thirds majority of the union's 330,000 members. Chuck Canterbury, National President of the FOP , said of their endorsement ...

“Mr. Trump has seriously looked at the issues facing law enforcement today. He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again."

I, for one, disagree with Mr. Canterbury, the FOP, and Captain Brewer. I do agree with Brewer on one point. In this universe, the opportunity for having things “far, far worse” is fast approaching. That horrible change would occur if Donald Trump is elected president instead of Hillary Clinton. A man who claims he is for law and order while idolizing Putin and building walls instead of bridges is a threat to America.

 P.S. -- And, no, Second Amendment fanatics, Hillary is not going to take your guns away.

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