With the recent unrest surrounding police-involved shootings, especially of black men, policing will likely take a front seat throughout the remainder of the election.
Donald Trump faces the difficult task of navigating between two sentiments held by the electorate.
Relying on arrest data and the deaths of those like Michael Brown, Alton Stirling, and most recently, Terence Crutcher, the Black Lives Matter movement and its supporters feel police disproportionately use force against people of colour because of inherent racism present in the criminal-justice system.
The other end of the spectrum, however, feels police face unnecessary criticism for a difficult job that requires officers put their lives on the line everyday.
As a result of these opposing views, protests — both peaceful and not — have erupted in cities across the country. Take a look at how Donald Trump plans to address and remedy the growing schism.
National standards on use of force
While Donald Trump’s campaign website doesn’t include a specific section dedicated to criminal justice or policing, he often calls himself the “law-and-order candidate.”
Many of the real-estate mogul turned presidential candidate’s speeches have expressed praise and support for America’s police, as opposed to reform efforts. Calling police officers “the most mistreated people in the country,” Trump
has repeatedly urged respect and appreciation for police and reminded the country of their role in preventing terrorism.
Right now, no national standards exist for the use of force, or other policing tactics, for that matter. Based on various Supreme Court cases, an officer is legally justified using lethal force if the officer has an “objectively reasonable” belief that the person will cause death or serious injury to the officer, other officers, or the public.
Some organisations, like the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), attempt to offer some level of standardization, especially regarding use of force, by accrediting law-enforcement agencies around the country. CALEA, however, only creates general directives — not specific policies — that police departments must abide by to receive its stamp of approval.
Experts contend that varying demographics and differing crime levels in some places make developing these national policing standards difficult at best.
“I would not want inner city Chicago policies applied to my very rural community that I live within,” Travis Parrish, director of client services and relations for the CALEA, previously told Business Insider.
Stop-and-frisk and racial profiling
Trump recently came out in full support of stop-and-frisk policing nationally.
“One of the things I’d do is I would do stop-and-frisk,” he said at a town hall-style discussion in Cleveland, the city where Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police. “I think you have to. We did it in New York — it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive.”
Trump used the first presidential debate as an opportunity hammer home his point.
“In New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders,” Trump said. “…. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by current mayor [Bill de Blasio]. But stop-and-frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.”
The data, however, cast doubt on some of these claims.
As for federal laws to reduce or stop racial profiling, Trump addressed his plans in a questionnaire from the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, which endorsed his candidacy in mid-September. The group hasn’t endorsed a candidate in Bill Clinton since 1996, according to The Washington Post.
Clinton did not seek endorsement from the Order.
“Civil rights legislation should be advanced if there is a clear need for edification of certain civil rights that are being violated,” Trump wrote.
Despite Trump’s vague statement in the questionnaire regarding profiling, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly in September, Trump suggested that profiling might be necessary to combat terrorism.
Black Lives Matter
Techniques like stop-and-frisk can lead to racial profiling, which the Black Lives Matter movement claims is the main motivation of many police-involved shootings.
The logic goes that police simply see people of colour, especially black men, as more of a threat and react differently than they might with a white person.
Trump may have hinted at the existence of racism among officers, but he hasn’t shown much, if any, support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In fact, he has criticised the group for sparking violence against police — like incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge — and declined an invitation to speak at the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People’s (NAACP) convention in July.
Trump also pledged his support for a bipartisan bill that would expand federal hate-crime laws to protect police officers in the Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire. Known as the “Blue Lives Matter” law, that additional protection already exists in Louisiana, the first state to adopt the controversial provision.
That information came as a response to a question from the Order about the “high level of hostility” and “hateful rhetoric” facing police officers.
Funding for training and equipment
Trump’s policies on training remain somewhat vague.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s advisers, has suggested that the federal government provide the country’s 800,000-some police officers antiterrorism training, including intelligence gathering. Trump reacted “very positively” to the suggestion, according to Giuliani.
As for body cameras, Trump agrees with Clinton on where the money should come from: the federal government.
But he also told The Guardian he doesn’t support making the technology mandatory. “Different police departments feel different ways,” he said.
When addressing the Fraternal Order of Police’s privacy concerns regarding body cameras, however, Trump promised to ensure that federal agencies wearing them will have the “proper balance between good management and protection of privacy.”
Despite criticism that police forces have become too militarised, Trump also told the Order that he fully supports the 1033 program, which essentially allows police departments access to excess or outdated military equipment, including blankets to weapons and armoured vehicles. In early May, the Obama administration banned the transfer of certain types of military gear to police departments. Clinton backed the decision.
For his part, Trump promised to reverse it.
“The 1033 program is an excellent program,” Trump wrote. “I will rescind the current executive order.”
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