Accuracy in Media

There’s a nationwide organization that works to reduce underage drinking, keep children safe, provide crisis lines for veterans and outreach initiatives for homeless veterans. It distributes Christmas presents to the underprivileged, has raised $17 million for Easter Seals and participates in Special Olympics, disaster programs, member education programs and community outreach.

According to The Nation, that organization should be shuttered. Its members should quit and form or join other organizations to fight it. Congress should hold hearings to find out why its members and America support its goals. And the NAACP and ACLU should target as a barrier to accountability.

The organization, “as currently constituted, should be relegated to the same historical dustbin as organizations like the Sons of the Confederacy and the White Citizens Council.”

The organization is the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police organization with 325,000 members and 2,100 local chapters – some of which function as the trade unions for the departments in their communities.

Mostly a state and local organization, it has a Washington lobby that presses for measures such as the Law Enforcement Safety Act, Section 1033, which allows the military to donate surplus equipment to local agencies.

The author of the piece, Georgetown professor Paul Butler, is trying to sell a book – “Chokehold: Policing Black Men” — in which he argues “the US criminal-justice system is premised on the control of black men and that this fact explains some of its most problematic features – mass incarceration, the erosion of civil liberties, brutal policing, and draconian sentences.”

“The FOP’s national leadership consists of seven white men,” even though it reports its membership is 30 percent people of color.

One Maryland FOP chapter raised money for Darren Wilson, the white officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. It explains why officers in Ohio raised money for cops caught up in the backlash of the Tamir Rice shooting.

And when President Trump said officers need not be “too nice” to suspects, other organizations condemned him, but FOP leadership acknowledged the president’s off-the-cuff comments are “sometimes taken all too literally by the media and professional police critics.”

But what truly rankles Butler is that the FOP supports Trump’s police-related policies, not those of President Obama.

Trump deprioritized forcing police departments to comply with recommendations of the policing commissions Obama ordered for communities across the country. Trump reversed the ban on private prisons, returned civil-asset forfeiture – in which police seize money believed to be the result of criminal activity, ended DACA, cracked down on sanctuary cities and allowed the military equipment to again flow to local police.

One can agree or disagree with the policy changes – civil-asset forfeiture is unpopular across the political spectrum, and even some conservatives worry about military equipment in the hands of local police. But Butler goes beyond that.

He wants Congress, “as well as state and local lawmakers” to “convene hearings on racial bias in the FOP.” He wants “individual officers of conscience (those who support private prisons, for instance, have no conscience) and departments with a will to police democratically (by which he means Democratically)” to divest, resign en masse and “send the strongest message that an old-boy network of Trump supporters does not represent the modern face of law enforcement.”

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