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Dear President Trump: This is what American cops want

How will Trump’s promise of unconditional support for law enforcement translate into policy changes?


Military personnel walk along the National Mall in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, alongside vendors selling President-elect Donald Trump merchandise ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration.

AP Photo/John Minchillo

The inauguration of President Donald Trump marks the beginning of a new administration. Throughout his candidacy, Trump actively sought support from the nation’s law enforcement community. He was endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police.

Now that Trump has won the election and is being sworn in, police officers should expect some immediate and long term changes that will affect law enforcement. While there are numerous policy concerns and issues to address, here are four things that law enforcement wants to see from Trump.

1. Revoke Executive Order 13688

President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13688 two years ago. This order created an interagency working group to recommend improvements to the process through which state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies acquire controlled equipment from the federal government through excess equipment transfers, asset forfeiture and grants.

Some have argued the changes that were ultimately made negatively impacted officer safety and overall community safety. Law enforcement should expect Trump to rescind EO 13688 in his first 100 days.

2. Funding for new programs, training and personnel

With the evolving role of law enforcement to meet the public’s expectations of public service, it is imperative for agencies to receive more funding to support the development of new programs, training and the hiring/retention of personnel. Police officers are wearing several different hats, from aiding the mentally ill to responding to hostile threats. To be able to adapt to the wide range of scenarios, officers need to be fully informed and prepared to effectively respond to any 911 call that is dispatched to them. Information and education is often delivered through the development of new programs. Once new programs are developed (or existing programs updated), officers must receive ongoing training that surpasses adequacy.

There are just over 900,000 law enforcement officers in the United States providing public service to a population of over 320 million. The majority of law enforcement agencies do not have enough personnel to meet the demands of the community they serve. Lack of personnel impacts all aspects of an agency’s business operations. Funding to support new programs and training opportunities opens the door for agencies to add personnel to support.

3. Patronage and support

It’s no secret that Obama’s 2009 remarks about Sgt. James Crowley negatively affected his relationship with the law enforcement community early in his presidency. These words put a strain on morale. Officers expect Trump to show the support of the profession that he promised during the campaign.

Patronage of the law enforcement profession is a critical, yet seemingly simple request to any Commander in Chief. It’s important because law enforcement officers put their lives at risk every day they go to work. They are constantly under the spotlight — whether it’s negative or positive. And, they are providing an incredible public service to safeguard our communities. Cops expect Trump’s continuing support of the law enforcement profession by weighing in on critical incident response and policy concerns (no matter how controversial) with respect and consideration of all the facts, something some felt his predecessor did not do.

4. Resources for infrastructure protection

If implemented, Trump’s plans for increased border security by developing a wall between the United States and Mexico will require more field and administrative personnel. As plans begin forming for building and securing a wall and managing the deportation of illegal immigrants, there will need to be additional funding and personnel to increase local and state law enforcement capacity and to implement any technological enhancements required for security.

Further, there will need to be additional local, state and federal officers trained and ready to deploy/respond to threats of domestic terrorism. There has to be funding, programs and personnel in place to adequately protect all critical infrastructures. This translates into law enforcement education and training on how to prevent, identify, respond and recover from any type of incident that impacts our critical infrastructure. Threats to our infrastructure are ongoing and attacks are imminent. Law enforcement officers need to be equipped and ready to respond.

With a new administration comes change and opportunity. While Trump continues to make appointments to his Cabinet and new agendas are established, the law enforcement community will be watching closely to assess and make strategic decisions that will improve their department’s operations and the impacts those changes may have on the communities they protect.

Heather Cotter serves as the Executive Director of the International Public Safety Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit. She’s been working with public safety professionals for several years and understands the challenges agencies and resource constraints agencies continue to face. Heather has a Master’s degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s at Indiana University, both in Criminology. Contact her at