Trump Administration Looks To 'Empower' Police Forces

President Donald Trump's administration has pledged to prioritize policies that are popular among law enforcement officers. Trump's pledges on the campaign trail to strengthen the autonomy of police officers drew controversy, with critics asserting that his proposed policies would infringe on civil rights.

On Jan. 20, shortly after Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the U.S., his administration issued a statement pledging support for law enforcement, according to the White House.

“The Trump administration will be a law and order administration,” the statement read. “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump administration will end it.”

The administration added “Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter or the violent disturber… Supporting law enforcement means supporting our citizens’ ability to protect themselves.”

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump had expressed unconditional support for police officers and called for the reversal of several Obama administration policies on law enforcement.

“These are spectacular people -- sometimes underappreciated, unfortunately, but we appreciate them, we know what they go through,” Trump said after winning the presidential election on Nov. 8, according to NPR.

Trump had pledged to provide federal grants to law enforcement departments without conditions, rescind former President Barack Obama’s 2015 executive order banning the shifting of U.S. military weaponry and equipment to police departments, and to pass legislation designating violence against police officers as a hate crime, Al Jazeera reports.

Among the more controversial law enforcement policies that Trump has proposed is the institution of New York’s former “stop and frisk” policy on a national scale.

The tactic of stopping and frisking random civilians had grown controversial in New York City, with accusations that the policy resulted in rampant racial profiling. The policy was ultimately ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013, according to The New York Times.

The national debate over law enforcement practices intensified following high-profile instances of police officers shooting unarmed people of color.

DeRay McKesson, a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, believes that Trump’s proposed policies will result in few police officers being held unaccountable whenever they racially profile.

“[Trump] continues to act as if racism is not a real thing in this country,” McKesson said. “It’s that worldview that in practice [and] in policy has the potential to have dire consequences for people of color.”

Meanwhile, executive director Jim Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police, whose union endorsed Trump during the election, has welcomed the president’s proposals.

“I’ve seen a level of resolve and commitment on the part of our membership unlike any in some long time,” Pasco said of Trump’s election. “Police officers are not seen with the level of respect and esteem that they might have been in the past.”

Sources: Al Jazeera, The New York TimesNPRThe White House / Photo Credit: Office of Public Affairs/Flickr

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