The endorsement of Trump by the Fraternal Order of Police appears to have driven a wedge between many Black cops and their white brothers in blue.
And nowhere is the split more visible than in Philadelphia, where the local FOP chapter has fallen in line and also endorsed Trump over the objections of a group that represents some 2,500 Black officers in the city and which has branded Trump an “outrageous bigot.”
One of the most outspoken leaders is Philadelphia’s head of the Guardian Civic League, Rochelle Bilal, who stressed the autonomy individual police officers have when it comes to casting their votes on November 8 and urged, “The national FOP should have stayed out of this election.”
Bilal goes on to identify what she feels is a clear rift in the values of community policing, which the FOP adheres to, and the track record of the Trump campaign. She stated, “The Trump campaign is racist, sexist, anti-gay. It’s a divisive campaign that’s now dividing law enforcement.”
The FOP stands behind its endorsement of Trump, as FOP President Chuck Canterbury reworded Trump’s campaign slogan, stating, “He will make America safe again.” Trump has made a point on his campaign to point out he is “the law and order ” candidate. He stresses that crime is rising in the country, though statistics show that the country’s crime rate has been dropping for years.
The FOP has historically endorsed Republican candidates. Ironically, the only Democrat to get an endorsement from them was the spouse of Trump’s opponent, Bill Clinton, in 1996.
The FOP claims that 30 percent of their members are minorities, and that the decision to support Trump was not made from the top. FOP state lodge representatives are required to survey their state members in regards to the election and their preference for president. The states then have to vote on endorsing a candidate that reflects the results of the state surveys.
Another aspect in regards to the FOP’s endorsement is that both candidates were given a deadline to complete a 12-page questionnaire from the FOP. The questionnaire results were to be shared with the FOP’s state lodges. Trump met the deadline, while the Hillary Clinton campaign submitted its questionnaire six weeks late.
Although the FOP made its political stance, other police groups, especially those made up of minority officers, are vocally speaking out against Trump. An African American police group, Blacks in Law Enforcement in America, released a statement bashing the endorsement. “Is this endorsement a result of the surveying of the membership of individual unions that represent police officers or is this endorsement the result of a few individuals who may stand to benefit from a so-called law and order candidate who knows nothing about the criminal justice system and is opposed to basic reforms of the system,” the statement read.
Law enforcement policy has played a major role in this election cycle. With strained community/police relationships being brought to the forefront across the country, it is pivotal that cops are behind the commander in chief . Clearly, there is currently a divide within law enforcement in regards to what presidential candidate to support.