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The Nation's Largest Police Union Endorses Donald Trump

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Donald Trump was endorsed by the nation's largest police union this past week. The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 300,000 people, put out a statement saying Donald Trump has made a, quote, "real commitment" to law enforcement. Chuck Canterbury joins us now. He's the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Welcome to the program.

CHUCK CANTERBURY: Thanks for having us, Rachel.

MARTIN: In your statement, you said members of the Fraternal Order of Police believe Trump will make America safe again. Do you have a clear picture or have you heard a plan for how he would do that?

CANTERBURY: Well, for the last - past number of years, we've been talking about the fact that law enforcement is not the answer to violent crime in inner cities - that we can help with crime reduction but unless you reduce systemic poverty and provide decent paying jobs that you're not going to really affect the crime rate. And Donald Trump, in our one-on-one interview, acknowledged that he agreed with us. And he thought that his plan to fight poverty would aid law enforcement, and he promised us a seat at the table.

MARTIN: And did you come away with a clear understanding of her plan and why you find that to be insufficient?

CANTERBURY: Well, her plan, first of all, was much more of a social engineering plan than Mr. Trump's. He wants to work on the systemic causes of high crime, and Mrs. Clinton wants to work on police reform. And reform in a profession that doesn't need to be reformed is not the answer to fight crime. What we need to do is have people that will partner with us in these neighborhoods, help reduce unemployment, get people jobs. Doing a police reform package that she's been discussing in the campaign is - in our minds, falls way short of a real plan to attack crime.

MARTIN: Donald Trump, on Friday, made a statement that I want to ask you about. He suggested that Hillary Clinton's Secret Service detail should stop carrying guns and then, quote, "see what happens to her." And it's not the first time he's used language which, to some people, sounds like inciting violence against Hillary Clinton. How can a union dedicated to safety, like yours, endorse a candidate who uses rhetoric that many hear as supporting or encouraging violence?

CANTERBURY: Well, the vote was taken weeks before he made that comment. And honestly, I believe his description - that that is more of a stab at her anti-Second Amendment stances that she's taken rather than the way the media has reported it. There's no doubt in my mind that Mr. Trump is not a wordsmith.

MARTIN: Do you think that he has had a problem with using violent rhetoric in some of his rallies and how he has been perceived as encouraging violence in those settings?

CANTERBURY: That's something that my members don't like, but we also don't like candidates that support people that call for pigs to be murdered and shot on duty. So it's a double-edged sword for us on that.

MARTIN: And you're referring there not to Hillary Clinton herself but to members of the Black Lives Matter movement or people...

CANTERBURY: Well, I...

MARTIN: ...Who are supporting her?

CANTERBURY: The most important example was the DNC when the speakers that were on her law enforcement day were all people associated with either Black Lives Matter or other police reformers. And not one single police survivor was invited to talk at the DNC. So to be honest with you, all of that rhetoric is getting a little tiresome.

MARTIN: Chuck Canterbury is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Thank you so much for taking the time.

CANTERBURY: OK, Rachel. Thank you. [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: Some of the comments by Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, leave the impression that there were no speakers at the Democratic National Convention who represented either police departments or the families of officers killed in the line of duty. In fact, there were such speakers, though not on the same evening as speakers from the families of African-Americans killed during encounters with police.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 23, 2016 at 12:00 AM EDT
Some of the comments by Chuck Canterbury, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, leave the impression that there were no speakers at the Democratic National Convention who represented either police departments or the families of officers killed in the line of duty. In fact, there were such speakers, though not on the same evening as speakers from the families of African-Americans killed during encounters with police.