New York City’s largest police union had not endorsed a presidential candidate for president in decades when its leader, Patrick Lynch, said last month that his Police Benevolent Association was endorsing Donald Trump because city and state leaders had been relentlessly scapegoating hard-working police officers and allowing chaos to reign on the streets. Another factor that may have played into the endorsement was that even as the police department has become more diverse and is less than half white, the unions continue to be run by white conservatives who live in the suburbs and increasingly echo the president’s views, the New York Times reports. Nearly 90 percent of union leaders are white and even more are men. Nearly 70 percent are registered Republicans and more than 60 percent live on Long Island or in counties north of New York City.
The demographic gap helps explain why New York City police union leaders have stridently repeated the president’s mayhem messaging and attacked Black Lives Matter protests in scathing terms. In the city overall, Trump is deeply unpopular, only a third of residents are white and the Democratic establishment has embraced the nationwide campaign against police brutality and racial bias. Some Black and Hispanic police fraternal groups objected to Lynch’s endorsement of the president, but there is no evidence of a broader backlash among rank-and-file members to the announcement of support, nor to Lynch’s speech praising the president at the Republican National Convention. Union leaders have fought a city law that made it a misdemeanor for police officers to use chokeholds during arrests, and tried to stop a state law that makes officers’ disciplinary records public. They have fiercely opposed a state law ending the use of cash bail for most nonviolent offenders.