The 330,000-strong National Fraternal Order of Police says Trump has ‘made a real commitment to America’s law enforcement.’
The National Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest law enforcement union, on Friday announced it would endorse Republican Donald Trump for president.
The order represents more than 330,000 members. The endorsement was decided by the group’s 45-member National Board, which had gathered in Nashville for its fall meeting.
“He’s made a real commitment to America’s law enforcement, and we’re proud to make a commitment to him and his campaign by endorsing his candidacy today,” FOP president Chuck Canterbury said in a statement unveiling the endorsement. “He is a proven leader, and that’s what we need for the next four years – a leader unafraid to make tough choices and see them through.”
The order endorsed Republican candidates George W. Bush and John McCain in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996. It declined to endorse Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in 2012, declaring neither candidate had made police or criminal justice a priority.
Trump has made law-and-order a central theme of his campaign, declaring – falsely – that crime is skyrocketing, and intimating the country is awash in a rising tide of murders.
Yet while protests about race and police-community relations still regularly roil city streets, and the murder rate in Chicago has recently spiked, crime nationwide remains at historic lows. At least two of Trump’s claims on crime have been labeled “Pants on Fire” by PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking news service, and furiously refuted by studies and research centers.
Nonetheless, Trump’s message has found traction with the Fraternal Order of Police. The national offices of the country’s major law enforcement unions have generally been critical of the Obama administration, alleging that by acknowledging that certain discriminatory practices exist, it has abandoned the interests of officers in favor of protesters.
In August 2014, as protests were stopping traffic in city centers across the nation after the fatal shooting by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the FOP’s executive director, Jim Pasco, lambasted remarks by Obama, who had raised concern about military-style gear being used by police.
“I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha’s Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation,” Pasco told The Hill. “What he has to do, as president and as a constitutional lawyer, is remember that there is a process in the United States and the process is being followed, for good or for ill, by the police and by the county and by the city and by the prosecutors’ office.”
The thoughts were echoed two years later by William Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, which has some 240,000 members: “This president and his administration absolutely do not have our back and make our jobs more dangerous,” Johnson told the Wall Street Journal in July.
Pasco had more recently moderated his public statements. He participated in a roundtable with the president in July, shortly after five police officers were killed in an ambush in Dallas, the gunman claiming retaliation for black men fatally shot by police the month before in Louisiana and Minnesota. At the time, he said the president seemed receptive to input from law enforcement.
In its statement announcing the endorsement of Trump, however, the FOP suggested it had been abandoned by another Democrat: presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whom it alleged had not sought the group’s support.
“We have a candidate who declined to seek an endorsement and a candidate without any record as an elected official. Mr. Trump, however, has seriously looked at the issues facing law enforcement today,” Canterbury said. “He took the time off the campaign trail and met with us to talk about our issues, our priorities.
He added: “I look forward to working with the Trump Administration on the issues that matter most to law enforcement.”
Clinton’s campaign office did not immediately return an email for comment Friday afternoon.