By T.B Lefever
The 2016 Presidential Election cycle has been like nothing the world has ever seen. I like to call it the “Election of Firsts”. We have the first female major party candidate running against a billionaire businessman making his first foray into politics. We’ve been given a seat in the first row to witness the first presidential race that may be decided by either never before seen levels of corruption on behalf of a former first lady or the audio of a grown man talking about his sexual escapades like a crude teenager experiencing his first time with a woman. We have seen two campaigns in a race to the bottom to see who makes it there first and we have seen our nation’s media pay attention to every salacious side story without putting the priorities of the people first. So how do first responders feel? More importantly, how will they vote?
We are lied to for a living and nothing insults us more than a weak lie
In my personal experience with police officers, they never cease to amaze. We are not simply robots that walk the blue line with eyes glazed over in a blue fog like some may envision to be the case. We’re people just like everyone else with different quirks that make us who we are and what political leanings we might have. I have heard stories of an officer who moonlights as “a real life vampire” when he is not humping 911 calls as a clean cut cop with a neatly pressed uniform, for whatever that’s worth and for whatever that even means. Others wear the high and tight and live up to the straight laced police officer stereotype on and off the job. I personally enjoy the reaction I get from people when they find out I’m a cop. It’s usually one of surprise at first but once they get to know me, they kick themselves for not being able to see it right off the bat. It could be that I never sit with my back to the door in public. It could be that I occasionally find myself talking in police signals and codes in casual conversation. Maybe it’s my driving or the fact that I’m always carrying a gun. My wife tells me I stare at strangers a lot.
With that being said, I know officers that are “Yuuuge” Trump supporters. I also know officers that are #NeverTrump. The latter remain willing to bite the bullet and vote for Hillary Clinton as a means in their eyes to block the man from “getting anywhere near the nuclear codes”. Some of us pay attention to politics and do independent research while others would rather spend their time with the kinds of hobbies that keep their occupational high blood pressure at normal human levels. I recently debated a colleague of mine who will be tallying a vote for Hillary Clinton this November come hell or high water. We eventually agreed to disagree. He is a good man and I would face a hail of gunfire with him if I had to. I trust he would do the same for me. Now disregard everything you just read. Despite the outliers and the eccentrics in my profession, the vast majority of police officers will vote for Donald Trump and here’s why.
Not every officer is fully aware of the details surrounding the Obama Administration’s intentions , but we have all taken notice of his reactions to the long list of officer involved controversies during his time atop the bully pulpit he sits. The first time we witnessed his implicit police bias in the national spotlight was when he stated “police acted stupidly” during the Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy before trying to smooth it over with that infamous “beer summit”. Most officers don’t care that he has an opinion that sides against us. The thing that irks us is that he has to weigh in every chance he gets. That incident was simply beneath the office of the POTUS and the national headlines that came with his words. Next was the Treyvon Martin case. While officers did not have any involvement in this particular incident, it was telling to hear Mr. President state that the teen could have been his son. It doesn’t take a police officer’s unique perspective to understand that the up to date drug induced photos of Mr. Martin flashing guns and gang signs is not the same person in the vintage photos of an innocent little boy that the media rammed down America’s collective throat. The rest is history that I won’t go on at length about. Citing the Ferguson Effect, police feel much less secure in their jobs than they ever did. The old police adage, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” is challenged these days by “I let him pummel me because I did not want to be scrutinized for shooting him” as we saw recently in Chicago when a female officer was knocked unconscious by a man high on PCP. Hillary Clinton has echoed the sentiments of President Obama and made it very clear that she plans a continuance on the trail he has blazed. This is sometimes referred to as “Obama’s third term”.
Hillary Clinton’s opponent on the other hand has been vocal in his support for the American Law Enforcement Officer. Calling himself the “law and order candidate”, he has been deliberate in his words on the issue of law enforcement’s role in society. As a result, Donald Trump has gained the endorsement of our nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police. What is most interesting about the endorsement of the 335,000 strong police union is that Hillary Clinton declined to return the customary questionnaire they send out to both major party candidates every presidential election cycle. Even President Obama returned said questionnaire in 2008 and then again in 2012. Other notable organizations to make Trump endorsements include the National Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Council and numerous local police unions throughout the country. To round out the list, major voices in the LEO community such as Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clark and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have both made steadfast commitments to Trump in 2016 citing his resistance to go along with the destructive narrative pushed on the other side of the aisle. It is important to note that Sheriff Arpaio has been charged with Contempt of Court by President Obama’s Department of Justice for violating a 2011 injunction to stop enforcing Federal Civil Immigration Law in his jurisdiction.
It may appear to some that police officers will simply be going with the candidate that butters their bread. I would argue that it is more visceral than that. As police, we are natural skeptics. We are lied to for a living and nothing insults us more than a weak lie. Whether it is the traffic cop having to listen to the guy that can’t stand up on his own two feet insist he only had two beers before getting behind the wheel and smacking the side of a bus or the street cop finding three hits of crack in the pocket of a dope boy and having to hear him go on about how “These ain’t my pants!”, it’s the same to us as having to listen to Hillary Clinton lie over and over again about the Benghazi emails, the WikiLeaks revelations, or the Clinton Cash scandals when there is clear evidence everywhere we look. While we are crucified for impropriety, her corruptive tentacles appear to have a firm grasp on even the FBI. Like many other officers I respect and admire, I have always been big on rewarding honesty. Not everyone needs to go to jail or feel the maximum wrath of my authority. Your level of honesty can often be the gauge that determines whether or not you take that ride to county jail in the back of my cruiser. It is the number one tool I have at my fingertips to make clear whether you deserve the long or short end of the stick when it comes to my discretion. Hillary Clinton fails that test.
T.B Lefever is an OpsLens Contributor and active police officer in the Metro-Atlanta area. Throughout his career, Lefever has served as a SWAT Hostage Negotiator, a member of the Crime Suppression Unit, a School Resource Officer, and a Uniformed Patrol Officer. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Rutgers University.