In a column for New York magazine’s Intelligencer, Zak Cheney-Rice wrote that is not surprising that Donald Trump is on the receiving end of endorsements from police unions and fraternal organizations because cops see much of themselves in the president.
Last week the New York City’s Police Benevolent Association, which calls itself “the largest municipal police union in the world,” endorsed the president — the first such endorsement by the group in 36 years.
According to PBA president Patrick J. Lynch, the endorsement is “important,” telling the president “You’ve earned this.”
As Cheney-Rice explained, the endorsement — coming as it does when there is a movement afoot to defund or reallocate money slated for police departments — confirms that police believe the president will protect them due to their shared belief that they are unconstrained by rules when it comes what they believe is “law and order.”
“Beyond formalizing a political alliance, this announcement confirmed what a growing share of the public has come to realize about America’s police: That their most treasured entitlement is their unaccountability,” he wrote. “The PBA’s support for Trump is not only an endorsement of his unpopular social-control platform, which celebrates brutal policing. It’s their latest rebuke of the notion that the ideal version of law enforcement requires partnership between the police and the public.”
Pointing out that public sentiment has turned against police, with a tipping point being the appalling killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by four Minneapolis police officers, the author said that police officers are looking for a champion because — like the president — their approval numbers in polls are plummeting.
“Even relative to five years ago, majorities of Americans support a significant tightening of officer accountability measures: 67 percent strongly favor establishing clear standards for use of force’; 64 percent strongly favor “requiring officers to report peer misconduct”; and 63 percent strongly favor ‘prosecuting officers who use excessive force,’ according to a June poll from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research,” he wrote, adding that there also a movement to eliminate “qualified immunity” that protects police officers from personal liability unless they broke “clearly established” law.
According to the columnist, the similarities between police union members and the president are all too familiar.
“The notion that they might owe consideration to even a dissatisfied majority is foreign. This is one of their clearest analogs to Trumpism — even more so than their shared affinity for prejudiced application of the law, targeting vulnerable populations and political opponents,” he explained.
“President Trump exists solely by the mandate of a revanchist minority,” he elaborated. “He [Trump] offers the same consideration to his loyalists — protection from popular will in the interest of ongoing self-empowerment and unaccountability. As police unions find their interests increasingly at odds with those of the broader public, this approach will prove all the more appealing to them as well — and facilitate their support for the politicians who most encourage it.”
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