Did Donald Trump run specifically on a law and order platform? We know he wanted more checks and balances but that is a lot different that insisting on good deal more police from the very beginning of his time in office.
One can be pro law and order without wanting overwhelming additional amounts of police. Plenty of videos and articles clearly show police assaults on civilians. Additionally, many of these civilian assaults are not successfully redressed.
Police generally tend to protect themselves and civilians can be a distant second when it comes to general security, especially if the officer is asking for more compliance than the individual is able to give.
Donald Trump has signed three executive orders to deal with “public safety”, including handing more authority to the police. At the formal ceremony to appoint Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the President outlined the new mandate that Mr Sessions would have, including tackling crime, drug cartels and terrorism.
“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” he said. “It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop today.”
One of the executive orders seeks to “define new federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing federal crimes, in order to prevent violence” against state and federal police.
According to the article, some 135 police officers were killed in the US, which is the highest in five years. according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. But the number includes many who died in traffic accidents or from heart attacks, etc. About half died in conflict with civilians.
Meanwhile, according to the article, there was no mention of the hundreds shot by police each year. Last year there were nearly a thousand killed at the hands of police and over 130 so far this year, according to killedbypolice.net
Mr Sessions, a longtime Senator from Alabama, did not focus on civilians however. He said the US had a “crime problem” and added, “I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip, [but] my best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that puts the health and safety of America at risk.”
Claims of permanent, rising crime are not borne out by statistics that show that long term crime is down especially when compared to the 1970s or 1980s. But Sessions was clear about his mission. “We need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety and pulls down the wages of working Americans,” he said.
The larger issue is Trump’s backing of law enforcement generally. He has met with many kinds of law enforcement and military groups since taking over. It seems as if he has met with fewer civilian groups thus far.
He talks a great deal about keeping civilians safe and says that was a main reason why he was elected. But our understanding is that people voted for him to bring back jobs. On this point he has been very good initially, but some issues like tax reform may have been put off for late this year or even early next.
If Trump continues in this vein, his relationships will be primarily with law enforcement and the military. There is nothing wrong with having relationships with all kinds of groups. But having relationships primarily with these two groups at the expense of others will do little to enhance his popularity.
Conclusion: Trump needs to reach out to a variety of civilian groups or he runs the risk of being pegged specifically as a law enforcement candidate rather than as a “man of the people.” That would be too bad as it would tend to shrink his orbit instead of expanding it.