Seven months into Donald Trump’s presidency, police groups are reveling in what they see as newfound support from the federal government, says the Associated Press. The administration, which touts a “law and order” agenda, has revived a controversial program that lets local police seize cash and property with federal help and pulled back on federal scrutiny of local law enforcement. And police groups checked another item off their wish lists when Attorney General Jeff Sessions told local police departments this week that they could once again have access to free grenade launchers and large-caliber weapons cast off from the U.S. military.
Sessions views federal support of local police as key to driving down the violence afflicting some cities, a top priority of the Justice Department. But critics say Trump’s recent moves, including his pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, display a troubling lack of skepticism about police power. And civil rights advocates, who found an ally in the Obama Justice Department, say they are left wondering how the administration will respond if another racially charged confrontation becomes a flashpoint in the debate over police treatment of minorities. James Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police said Trump’s support is a refreshing change from what he saw as a “constant drumbeat of criticism and villainization of police officers” under Obama. Trump seized on that in wooing political support from police unions, promising he would roll back Obama-era restrictions on law enforcement. Pasco said the “vocal and demonstrative” support of police by Trump and Sessions “is a huge morale boost.”