Police Groups Divided On Presidential Candidates

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Sen. John Kerry recently accepted an endorsement from the National Association of Police Organizations. A few days earlier, reports the Chicago Tribune, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police called President Bush “one of the very best friends that rank-and-file law-enforcement officers have ever had” and gave Bush the group’s backing. The Tribune says, “Politicians have always loved associating with police officers, and that has been especially true this year, when the post-Sept. 11 glow surrounding police has made them especially desirable political bedfellows.”

Controversies over the just-expired ban on assault weapons and Bush’s budget cuts also have complicated the candidates’ pursuit of these endorsements, splitting the law-enforcement community and preventing either candidate from making a clean sweep. Many police applauded Bush’s performance after the Sept. 11 attacks. Many police leaders also pushed hard to extend the ban on assault-style weapons, which expired this month, and are angry over Bush’s tepid endorsement of the ban. Similarly, many officers complain that Bush has slashed funding from programs to hire local police. “Police cut both ways,” said Paul Brace, a political scientist at Rice University. “A Democrat can get police behind him because a lot of police are unionized, and a Democrat would be more sympathetic to them as organized workers. But ideologically, Bush may espouse policies closer to the orientation of a lot of police. So there are attractions on both sides of the aisle.”

Link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0409280329sep28,1,5979840.story

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