President’s executive action to protect police will boost morale say criminal justice experts.
President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders that seek to protect and aid law enforcement signal a marked reversal from the Obama administration and are likely to significantly increase morale among rank and file officers.
“For eight years, police officers have felt like they’ve been in the national doghouse,” William G. Otis, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown, former special counsel for President George H. W. Bush, and a former federal prosecutor, told LifeZette.
“[Law enforcement] must be deeply satisfied and reassured that a new and more hopeful day has come for them from President Trump.”
“While it’s true that President Obama made occasional if tepid gestures of respect toward them, the distinct undertow was that policing was as much a problem as a solution. Hence the emphasis in Obama’s Justice Department on ‘implicit bias training,’ with its implied, if warped, premise that those in law enforcement pay as much attention to race as to behavior,” Otis said.
President Trump announced three executive orders in support of law enforcement last week. One order creates a task force on crime reduction and public safety, while another seeks to strengthen efforts to target transnational criminal organizations and prevent international trafficking.
It is the third executive order, however, “Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers,” which Otis says marks the greatest potential morale booster for police.
“Police deserve our support, but over the last few years, they would be justified in thinking the White House was more a source of skepticism, at best,” Otis said. “They must be deeply satisfied and reassured that a new and more hopeful day has come for them from President Trump.”
The order requires the Justice Department to “develop strategies … to further enhance the protection and safety of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers; and pursue appropriate legislation … that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.”
“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” Trump said as he signed the executive order Thursday. “It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop as of today,” he continued.
The order also requires Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop a strategy to use existing federal laws to prosecute those who commit harm or would seek to do so against law enforcement officers, and asks that a general strategy to prevent violence against law enforcement be developed.
Last week, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told Neil Cavuto that the order is an “encouraging sign.”
“This is about creating safe cities, safe communities and neighborhoods,” said Craig. “I’m excited with the change. I think it’s well overdue,” he continued. “What we’ve seen in so many cities — and I can name a few — [is] that when the morale goes down, and police officers don’t feel supported, certainly violent crime is not being adequately addressed. I’ve seen it in too many places,” Craig said.
“When you talk about the anti-police rhetoric and you talk about the issue that we’ve seen over the last couple of years here in America involving our law enforcement officers, law enforcement has been painted with a broad brush — one bad incident or one incident that’s not a bad incident and law enforcement is corrupt, they’re violent, and they’re attacking the community. And it is so unfortunate that that’s the kind of response,” said Craig. “Where’s the outcry?”
“I can promise that if we have a president who is speaking about protecting the lives of police officers, that the membership is going to be supportive of him,” Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told The New York Times.
“No police officer took an oath that said, ‘I agree to support and defend the Constitution and to get my butt whipped.'”