I haven’t talked to Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain about this subject, but my hunch is that he likely has joined other chiefs of police in their opposition to a law enforcement policy pronouncement by the president of the United States.
Donald John Trump Sr. has suggested that police officers need not worry about being “too nice” with individuals they arrest. Police have been fighting a serious public-relations battle in recent years caused by the actions of some officers who’ve been accused of brutality against the citizens they are sworn to “protect and serve.”
That doesn’t bother Trump, or so it would seem. His remarks in New York this past week suggest that it’s OK with him if cops decide to rough criminal suspects up. Police chiefs sought to put immediate distance between themselves and the president.
As the Washington Post reported: “Some police leaders worried that three sentences uttered by the president during a Long Island, N.Y., speech could upend nearly three decades of fence-mending since the 1991 Los Angeles Police Department beating of Rodney King ushered in an era of distrust of police.
“’It’s the wrong message,’ Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told Washington radio station WTOP while speaking of the trust-building work that departments have undertaken since King’s beating. ‘The last thing we need is a green light from the president of the United States for officers to use unnecessary force.’”
Let’s circle back to Amarillo’s police department for a moment. Drain took command of the department a few months ago and immediately announced plans to reactivate the PD’s community policing policy, which encourages greater interpersonal contact between officers and the communities they patrol.
That kind of policy doesn’t lend itself to the sort of rough-stuff rhetoric the president espoused.
I’m going to stick with the cops on this one. They have a tough enough fight on their hands trying to maintain the trust of the communities they serve. The president’s message — if acted upon — makes the police mission virtually impossible.