Trump Anticrime Message Splits Police, Conservatives

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President Trump depicts a nation suffering from a crime wave, raising the prospect of increased prosecutions and tougher penalties. That message is splitting the law-enforcement community and would contradict a growing consensus in his own party around policies aimed at reducing prison populations, the Wall Street Journal reports. His potential measures have drawn pushback from some law-enforcement leaders, who say they aren’t equipped to enforce immigration law, and from criminal-justice experts wary of a reprise of the “war on drugs” that they say swelled prisons, devastated minority communities and drained tax dollars. They point to data that shows crime hovering near multi-decade lows. Many states, some headed by conservative Republicans, have been easing sentences and helping inmates transition back into society to lower inmate counts. “What I say to conservatives is that we need to be tough on crime, but also smart on crime to make sure that we don’t simply remove people from society, we rehabilitate them,” said Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY).

“We should always be guided by facts and data in all we do, especially with crime and punishment, and not by fear and emotion—that’s what the dozens of states who have made productive and commonsense reforms to their systems have done,” said Mark Holden of Koch Industries, a conservative voice for criminal-justice overhauls. The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union, and suburban and rural sheriffs welcome Trump’s show of solidarity after President Obama expressed sympathy for young black men killed by police. “Standing up for our law enforcement community” is one of six top issues on the White House website. One Trump order comes close to endorsing an FOP “Blue Lives Matter” drive in response to deadly attacks on police in Dallas and Baton Rouge to add “law enforcement” to a federal hate-crimes law.

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