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Fraternal Order Of Police President Calls Targeting Of Officers A Hate Crime


For more on the law enforcement reaction to the shooting in Dallas, we reached Chuck Canterbury. He's the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. That's the largest law enforcement union in the United States, and he told me that he wants the shootings in Dallas to be investigated as a hate crime against police.

CHUCK CANTERBURY: Since 1999, we've been saying that police officers that are ambushed merely for the color of their uniform are being subjected to hate crimes. A hate crime is simply a crime that is committed based on the bias of the offender.

SHAPIRO: According to the law, a hate crime is a crime that is committed based on the bias of the offender toward specific categories of person - race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, gender identity.


SHAPIRO: If police are attacked out of hatred of police, just based on the current law, that doesn't seem to fall under the umbrella of a hate crime.

CANTERBURY: Well, for instance, in the Dallas case, it's obvious that it fits within the umbrella because the individual has made statements to police that he wanted to kill white policemen. Therefore, it's a race-based - and that's why we've asked for a change in the federal hate crime law. This case is specifically...

SHAPIRO: To include in the list, religion, sexual orientation...

CANTERBURY: ...To include law enforcement.

SHAPIRO: ...Etc., law enforcement.

CANTERBURY: Law enforcement, first responders, fire and EMS as well.

SHAPIRO: It's been many years since police officers were lost in the line of duty in the numbers that we've seen today. How do you cope when something like this happens?

CANTERBURY: When 12 officers were down last night, the police officers continued to do their job. Well, we're deeply saddened and in deep shock of the incidents that happened in Dallas. I've already talked to Dallas police officers this morning. They're in total shock and disarray, but they're doing their jobs. They're out doing what they're paid to do. They're protecting the public. This situation is not over yet. The investigation is just beginning. These are officers that saw their friends die last night, and they're continuing to do their jobs today.

SHAPIRO: You know, in the country right now, there's a lot of grieving and also a lot of finger-pointing. And I wonder whether there is a place for police officers to say, we have suffered a loss, and we need to heal. And at the same time, based on what happened in Louisiana and Minnesota, we also need to do some introspection and think about whether we should be going about our jobs differently than we are. Can those two things co-exist?

CANTERBURY: Absolutely. I mean, better training, better equipment, better staffing levels are all things that police unions all around the country have talked about for years. I think the thing for most of the public to understand is the police officers themselves are not in control of staffing levels. They're not

CANTERBURY: in control of equipment. They're not in control of training. Police officers themselves need training, ask for training. In Chicago, officers have been asking for Taser training for almost eight years. People have been on the waiting list seven to nine years. That's unacceptable. Less-than-lethal methods need to be improved every day. Police officers would like that. Nobody goes to work and put pins on a badge or a star and wants to end somebody else's life.

SHAPIRO: We're speaking to you earlier in the day. Listeners are hearing a recorded conversation. You're on your way to meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. What is your message for her?

CANTERBURY: Well, first of all, I have great regard for Attorney General Lynch. I've had a number of meetings with her. She's always interested in the perspective of the street police officer, and I'm just going to reiterate that if there has ever been an assassination of police officers that fits the current hate crime legislation, Dallas is it. Even though the main offender is dead, the hate crime investigation will show to the Justice Department and to the country that this was a hate-based crime.

And we're hoping to encourage her to have the Justice Department investigate it in that vein, and to look at every assassination of a police officer in that light, provided that it does make the new law that we're hoping to pass, and we really hope that the American public will support this hate crime legislation. Nobody should die because of the color of their skin, and nobody should die because of the color of the uniform they wear neither.

SHAPIRO: Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, thank you for joining us.

CANTERBURY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.