The largest police union in the country, the Fraternal Order of Police, has endorsed Donald Trump for president, declaring in a press release that he “understands and supports our priorities.”
In its vagueness, the announcement from the 330,000-member union invites an attempt to identify exactly what those priorities are by taking a look at Trump’s past statements regarding law enforcement:
Priority one: Instill fear to make people less inclined to criticize the police.
Trump has repeatedly lied about how much crime there is in the United States, asserting at rallies and in interviews that the country is suffering through a violent crime wave, even though most places in America have never been safer.
Why the union likes this: Fear of crime makes people less inclined to criticize police.
Priority two: Try to kill the police reform movement.
Trump casts efforts to make police officers kill fewer people as a “war on police” being waged by criminals. In his prime-time “law and order” speech in August, Trump stated, “Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, the violent disruptor.” By associating activists and protesters with rioters and looters, Trump spreads the notion that people calling for police reform are doing so because they are violent law-breakers who want to weaken the ability of the police to keep the country safe.
Priority three: Make Americans feel so guilty for criticizing the police that they stop criticizing the police.
Trump makes the false claim that it has never been more dangerous to work as a police officer—eliding the much more reassuring reality that the number of American police officers who get killed in the line of duty has been declining for decades. This sends the message that ordinary people with ordinary jobs have no business criticizing the work of law enforcement.
Priority four: More fawning over police officers.
Trump only talks about the police in the most glowing terms, saying things like, “What you do is incredible,” and “the police in this country are absolutely amazing people.” This serves as a counterbalance to widespread calls for police reform that are based on the idea that police officers are not above criticism.
Priority five: Create the impression that this whole “police officers disproportionately kill black people” thing is wrong.
Last November, Trump memorably tweeted a racist meme that, in addition to falsely claiming that 81 percent of whites are killed by blacks, incorrectly suggested that police actually kill whites more often than they kill blacks. It is advantageous to the FOP if more Americans can be convinced, with fake numbers, that the Black Lives Matter movement exists to defend the rights of violent offenders, and that its underlying argument is a sham.
It is depressing that these are the FOP’s priorities, and that actually making the jobs of its members easier—say, by declining to endorse a candidate who feels contempt for the very people police officers should be trying to build relationships with—is not one of them.