5 things American police can expect from President Donald Trump
Even the deep-in-the-weeds political analysts are befuddled at the outcome of this election, so it’s no small thing to offer predictions, but let’s give it a shot
With Hillary Clinton securing 228 and Donald J. Trump winning 279 Electoral College votes, one of the most astonishing political upsets in American history has been made, with a political outsider defeating a career politician in the 2016 presidential election. When the nation swears in the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017, the person with their hand on the Bible will be the billionaire businessman from New York City.
In a stunning rebuke of the political establishment, Trump’s victory shocked an electorate that had all but anointed the first female president in Hillary Clinton – the overwhelming majority of the pollsters and the pundits predicted that Clinton would win with a sizeable majority of the Electoral College. The talking heads called Trump’s path to the White House “narrow” and Clinton’s lead in the polls “insurmountable.” While the general public and the mainstream press puzzle over the events of November 8, 2016, law enforcement officers go to work as they have done every day during this marathon of a campaign – taking to the streets to serve society and protect people from themselves.
What will the next four years mean for those cops? Even the deep-in-the-weeds political analysts are befuddled at the outcome of this election, so it’s no small thing to offer predictions, but it is certainly worth the effort to examine a few general ideas about what a Trump presidency means for American law enforcement.
1. Greater general support for law enforcement
Roughly six months into his presidency, Barak Obama famously remarked that police “acted stupidly” in arresting a prominent black Harvard professor in July 2009. That set the tone for how the White House would be positioned on law enforcement matters for the next seven years.
In stark contrast, Trump has gone out of his way to demonstrate support for law enforcement throughout his presidential campaign. He has been photographed and videotaped on numerous occasions shaking hands with officers assigned to his protection detail. Officers have, in turn, overwhelmingly thrown their support to the president-elect, with the National FOP and myriad other police organizations endorsing the candidate in the run-up to Election Day.
It is safe to assume that there will be no need for a “Beer Summit” during the Trump administration and that politically left-leaning appointees at the Department of Justice will soon be floating their resumes on K Street and elsewhere.
2. More funding and support for immigration enforcement
When Trump descended the escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the Republican Party’s nomination for president on June 16, 2015, he declared that he would build a wall on America’s southern border in order to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.
While experts can agree to disagree on the efficacy of such a behemoth undertaking, it is not difficult to imagine that President Trump will seek to pour resources into U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the two agencies charged with keeping illegal immigrants out and apprehending those who have slipped through the existing net.
Trump has also declared on the campaign trail that he would end federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” but that may be more difficult to accomplish by presidential fiat. There would almost certainly be lawsuits and injunctions filed should he try, and that process could go either way.
3. Anti-Trump protestors hit the streets early and often
Even as Trump supporters revel in what Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called “the most incredible political feat I have seen in my lifetime,” people are lining up to protest the outcome of the election.
“From Pennsylvania to California, Oregon and Washington State, hundreds of people hit the streets, according to reports by local news media and The Associated Press,” said one report in the New York Times this morning.
KRON-TV has reported that demonstrators are planning to take to the streets in Oakland and San Francisco on Wednesday evening, and it takes very little imagination to conclude that people will do so in countless cities across the country not just in the days following the election, but at times throughout the Trump presidency.
Police will have to protect the First Amendment rights of those who take to the streets, while also preventing the destruction of property that has become commonplace in demonstrations following controversial police shootings in recent years. This is an ongoing officer safety (and public safety) issue that could extend well into the Trump presidency, as we simply cannot predict with certainty what Trump will do on any given day.
4. A shift in the fight against radical Islamist terrorists
Throughout his campaign, Trump has repeatedly criticized President Obama’s handling of the fight against the Islamic State, as well as the handling of the domestic terror threat inspired by ISIS. He has stated that he would “knock the hell out of ISIS” but has provided virtually no specifics on his plan.
In the event that Trump delivers on his promise to increase military intervention in Syria, that could certainly lead to a retaliatory increase in the terrorists’ efforts in recruiting new members online and inspiring lone-actor attacks like we’ve seen at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.
Local law enforcement is on the front lines of domestic counterterrorism, so it will fall on officers to be even more vigilant in their defense of innocents at the hands of self-radicalized attackers. This will require even greater collaboration and information sharing between law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level. This is simple, but not easy, and it is an undertaking that should begin in earnest immediately.
5. A conservative Supreme Court will last for decades
Perhaps the most significant outcome of the 2016 election is that Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court will almost certainly be filled by a conservative nominee. Further, with the advancing years of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 78, Trump will likely have the opportunity to add several other conservatives to the Court.
By adding one or more of the conservative nominees Trump has publicly named, the Court will affect how myriad cases are decided for several decades to come – issues as diverse as firearms ownership and personal privacy in a digital age are sure to be argued before the Court in that timeframe.
As the people charged with enforcing the law, those decisions will have a direct impact on how police officers do their jobs. We simply don’t yet know what the future holds for Constitutional law.
Brexit. The Chicago Cubs. Donald J. Trump.
Three things that nobody thought would ever happen, have all happened.
For cops out on patrol, today is “just another day at the office.” But many people across the nation – indeed, the world – are reeling in shock that a man who has never before held public office has secured the most powerful office on the planet.
In the coming weeks, the Trump camp will begin to reveal his Cabinet selections and other key predictors of what the Trump presidency will look like. One thing is certain: the future is uncertain. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we are looking at a host of unknown unknowns. There simply are too many things “we don’t know we don’t know.”
We shall soon see what we shall see.
In the meantime, stay safe out there my friends.