PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Despite lingering outrage over Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s controversial plan to block Muslims from entering the U.S., a top New England police union endorsed the former reality star last night after he pledged to give the death penalty to cop-killers.
“I’d call it the Lifetime Improvement Award — I’m improving with this award,” Trump told dozens of officers from the New England Police Benevolent Association here last night. “I want to tell you that police and law enforcement in this country, I will never, ever let them down — just remember that.”
The union’s executive director, Jerry Flynn, said Trump was the only candidate who agreed to meet with the board and won their endorsement after he pledged to sign an executive order as soon as he takes office to require the death penalty for criminals who kill police and corrections officers.
He insisted the firestorm over Trump’s plan to temporarily stop Muslims from coming to America did not influence their decision.
“We didn’t discuss that,” Flynn said after his board emerged from the formal vote. “We discussed what he’s going to do for law enforcement.”
The union boycotted President Obama’s Labor Day address in Boston earlier this year to make a statement about violence against cops. Flynn said both Obama and former Gov. Deval Patrick have hurt the cause of police officers over the years, and they sought a leader who would have their backs.
Asked whether he’s concerned the union’s ties to Trump will reflect badly on the force in light of his anti-Muslim remarks, Flynn said, “How much more can law enforcement be reflected badly on? Every time we open up the news, people are taking buckshots at us, whether it’s literally or figuratively. So Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air as far as I’m concerned.”
Other union members here fully supported Trump’s Muslim ban, even if they didn’t want to be identified.
“Close the whole border down,” one union member, who refused to give his name, told the Herald. “Shut it all down until we figure it out — that’s what I want to see.”
A throng of protesters lined the road leading up to the hotel before Trump arrived. They chanted and waved signs that read “Deport Fascism” and “Peace” and criticized the cop union’s embrace of the New York billionaire.
“Those are the same people who stood out in the middle of (Interstate) 93 laying down on the sidewalk saying, ‘Black lives matter,'” Flynn said. “Well, you know what? Police lives matter — all lives matter — as far as we’re concerned. I’m telling you right now, we endorsed a candidate who best serves our membership.”
Trump spoke briefly last night at the event, which was open only to union members and press and — in a Trump rarity — did not ridicule or insult any of his fellow candidates.
He defended local police departments’ use of military-style vehicles and equipment — as long as they’re trained — which came under fire during the Ferguson, Mo., race riots.
“They’re taking away the military equipment now,” Trump told the cops. “Every time I see a conflict, I see a van pull up. I see an armor-plated Humvee pull up. I see almost a tank in some cases pull up … The police have to have the finest training.”
[SOURCE: The Boston Herald]