Mr. Donald Trump and Mrs. Hillary Clinton – two 2016 presidential candidates who couldn’t be more dissimilar in speech, temperament, lived experience and the organization of their campaign but who both happen to be quite disliked by American voters and mingle often with the rich and famous – have a differing perspective on the policing tactic known as stop-and-frisk; on this issue, they are, polar opposites.
Months apart in their visit to Philadelphia – a city whose stop-and-frisk program was so misused by former Mayor Michael A. Nutter and his police commissioner Mr. Charles Ramsey that it resulted in a 2010 class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU which morphed into a 2011 consent decree that did little to deter the police department from disproportionately stopping young black and brown citizens – Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton while here both weighed in on the subject: the brash billionaire who’s now billing himself as the law-and-order candidate said last Friday that stop-and-frisk is great and worked well in New York City, while the former secretary of state in April said the argument for stop-and-frisk, when scrutinized, doesn’t hold up.
The subject of policing in America appears to be the only one where Mr. Trump has truly remained consistent and which offers the greatest contrast on the candidates’ policy. Mrs. Clinton – who wouldn’t commit to, if elected, appointing someone to the Supreme Court to overturn or amend Terry v. Ohio, the late 1960s case law which granted police officers the right to stop and search a citizen on less than the Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause – did say that American police officers should be looking for probable cause and that the federal government can set the tone for policing, and withhold funding for those departments who don’t act in accordance with said tone.
Mrs. Clinton since the onset of her campaign has spoken at-length about the need for police reforms – for example, establishing clear guidelines on use of force and requiring accurate data on in custody deaths – condemned fatal officer-involved shootings of black men, and embraced a growing cohort of grieving black mothers, while Mr. Trump – who last Saturday when visiting for the first-time ever a black church called for a civil-rights agenda – has said the police, which he described as the most mis-treated group in America, must have even greater powers.
It remains unclear how Mr. Trump, who’s now seeking the black vote to shed the narrative that he’s a racist, would bolster the powers of police officers while creating a civil-rights agenda which, to be authentic and effective, would have to include drastic reforms in policing. But, what is clear is that Mr. Trump sees cops as the aggrieved class and not the hundreds of thousands of victims of police misconduct, such as those Philadelphians who annually are being stopped arbitrarily and in the absence of reasonable suspicion.
For single-issue voters, if the subject of policing will determine who you cast a ballot for, just remember Mrs. Clinton wants reform while Mr. Trump prefers the norm, which means cops with sovereign power and citizens with minimal recourse.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photo courtesy of the author.