The recent nationwide push for policing reform has put local and federal politicians under the microscope for answers on how they plan to reduce police violence or otherwise remake American law enforcement. And the International Association of Chiefs of Police didn’t shy away from the tough questions when it sent out its quadrennial questionnaire to the presidential candidates last month, asking both President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden about their policing proposals, opinions on use of force and protecting officers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The candidates responded with their past proposals, their new ideas or both, and both reminded the IACP that they have worked together with police leaders to shape legislation to improve the nation’s police capabilities. “I have hosted law enforcement groups such as the IACP” at the White House, Trump noted. Biden pointed out he wrote the legislation which created the federal Community Oriented Policing Services program, and added, “You know me and you know you are always heard, and you always will be.”

Then, the IACP asked for each candidate’s views on nine specific areas of crime or other issues that impact law enforcement, and the solutions they planned to provide. The chiefs asked how they would address violent crime, violence against women, hate crimes, homegrown violent extremism, opioid abuse and traffic safety. They also asked the candidates their thoughts on the use of technology in law enforcement, the challenges with encryption in investigations and recruitment and retention in law enforcement.

Biden’s response on the nine issues stretched over four pages, calling for assault weapons bans, massive investment in drug treatment programs and investing $300 million in the COPS program to hire more officers and deputies.

Trump did not respond to the nine issues and provided no explanation.

The IACP, which has about 27,000 law enforcement members in the United States and elsewhere, does not make political endorsements, but said it uses the questionnaire “to provide the IACP membership, and the policing profession, with important insight into their respective policy initiatives, in their own words.” Both candidates note that they do not support “defunding the police,” an idea proposed by civil rights activists as a response to police violence and disproportionate arrests of minorities.

Trump cited a number of initiatives his administration has launched, such as restoring Project Safe Neighborhoods, which pushes for increased federal gun crime prosecution, and creating the Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. The commission, long sought by the IACP, is a group of local and federal law enforcement officials assigned to devise ways to improve policing and has been holding public virtual meetings since February. Trump’s answer notes that he supports the efforts of the attorney general “to implement the recommendations it provides.”

The president also pointed out that he signed an executive order in June on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities” that encourages local police to improve their use-of-force policies, implement better tactics in dealing with those with mental health issues, and create a national database on use-of-force incidents. The FBI has already launched such a database, but only 40 percent of police departments submitted data in its first year.

Biden’s responses repeatedly attack Trump, while Trump’s do not mention his opponent. Biden wrote that Trump is “the one defunding the police, proposing to cut more than $465 million in Justice Department aid to state and local law enforcement.” Biden also said that the police “have been failed by this president’s complete mismanagement of covid-19. By year’s end, coronavirus will be the leading cause of police deaths in America — more than line-of-duty fatalities.”

Biden said he would propose increased funding for community policing and reform, and that he would tie federal funding to the adoption of model use-of-force policies, body-worn cameras and training. On violent crime, Biden said he would pursue “common-sense gun laws that end our gun violence epidemic,” and said that Trump’s embrace of the National Rifle Association means “police are outgunned by criminals.”

Both candidates support programs to divert mental health calls away from police and first responders, and both propose partnering mental health specialists with police. Asked about foreign policy issues related to criminal justice, Biden’s response focused on human trafficking, money laundering, and the transport of weapons and drugs across borders. Trump’s response focused on dismantling international gangs such as MS-13, coordinating with law enforcement partners in Central America.

Trump’s full answers to the questionnaire are here.

Biden’s full answers to the questionnaire are here.