A group of nearly 200 prominent veterans of law enforcement rebuked President Donald Trump’s approach to public safety on Monday, arguing Trump’s “law and order” philosophy will result in more dangerous communities and a waste of federal resources.
The group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Incarceration, slammed Trump’s hardline stance on crime, which it said emphasised arrests and incarceration while ignoring efforts to maintain good community relations, keep offenders out of jail, and treat the mentally ill.
“Decades of experience have convinced us of a sobering reality,” group co-chairmen Ronal Serpas and David Brown — former police chiefs in Nashville, New Orleans, and Dallas — wrote in a 28-page agenda addressed to the Trump administration. “Today’s crime policies, which too often rely only on jail and prison, are simply ineffective in preserving public safety.”
On Monday, the group published open letters requesting meetings with Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss how to keep the country safe. Other members of the law enforcement group include current and former police commissioners and chiefs from several major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Birmingham.
The group called on Trump to back policies that would specifically target violent crime, an apparent dig at an executive orders the president signed last week, which the group said only considers crime in general.
“Failing to direct these resources toward our most immediate and dangerous threats risks wasting taxpayer dollars,” the officials wrote.
The group also pushed Trump to fight to reduce “bloated prison populations” with alternatives to jail time. Such alternatives include directing mentally ill inmates toward health facilities and expanding the use of halfway homes that offer transitional support to inmates integrating back into society. Better support for inmates reduces the chances of them landing behind bars later in life, they said.
“We need not use arrest, conviction, and prison as the default response for every broken law,” the officials wrote.
Finally, the group recommended Trump invest in community policing, wherein police forces collaborate with their communities. The practice reduces crime and diminishes local tensions between police and civilians, the officers wrote.
Not all police across the country share the group’s views. Several police chiefs and union members prefer Trump’s hardline rhetoric and vows to crack down on crime nationwide, after eight years in which they perceived Barack Obama as being soft on crime, according to The New York Times.
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