The two leading presidential candidates have not discussed crime and justice issues in much detail so far. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have declared their support for law enforcement, but have been short on specifics. The Republican platform decries “over-criminalization” of federal law and calls for a commission to weed out old “crimes,” and also lauds the use of mandatory minimum sentencing as “an important tool.” The Democratic platform calls for a reduction in gun violence by expanding background checks, revoking the legal immunity of gun makers and sellers, and allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence as a public health issue, a task Congress currently does not allow it to perform.
So the nation’s police chiefs have come up with a questionnaire for the candidates. The International Association of Police Chiefs, composed of 27,000 members in all 50 states, has sent 10 questions, one with multiple branches, for Trump and Clinton to answer by Aug. 15. Terry Cunningham, chief of the Wellesley, Mass., police department and president of the IACP, said that “this is arguably one of the most challenging, tumultuous, dangerous and difficult times in American policing. … We have presented the candidates with a questionnaire so we can get beyond stump speeches and sound bytes and get to a better understanding of policy positions and philosophy.”
Cunningham was in Washington Wednesday meeting with Vice President Biden and other top law enforcement executives to discuss ways to improve police-community relations and police training. Afterward, he said of the questionnaire: “We, as an organization, need to know what the candidates’ plans are to work with the communities and the police to build trust and transparency.”
Here are the questions:
1) What is the number one priority in the area of law enforcement/criminal justice that you hope to accomplish if elected?
2) What are your plans to lower crime? What will the roles of state and local law enforcement be in that effort?
3) What are your foreign policy priorities as they relate to criminal justice or transnational crime issues?
4) The federal government is an important partner to state and local law enforcement agencies. What, if anything, would you do differently from the current administration?
5) In some areas, there exist tensions between law enforcement and communities, particularly in regards to legitimacy and procedural justice. How would you work to repair and strengthen community-police relations?
6) Given the demands of the job and decreasing state and local budgets, what type of assistance and resources do you believe the federal government should provide to ensure that law enforcement is able to do its job effectively and efficiently?
7) What legislative proposals related to law enforcement do you plan to make a priority? How would you encourage Congress to move that legislation forward?
8) What are your views on the following issues confronting law enforcement and what solutions do you plan to provide? Please provide a response for each issue listed:
a) gang/drug-related violent crime; b) firearms-related violence; c) homegrown violent extremism; d) barriers to law enforcement investigations, such as encryption; e) states who have already legalized or plan to legalize marijuana, (medical or recreational) f) increase in opioid and heroin use; g) backlog in DNA evidence processing (rape kits); h) collection of police data (officer-involved shooting database)
9) Lack of adequate mental health services have resulted in a large portion of law enforcement’s calls for service involving individuals with mental illness. What steps will you take to alleviate law enforcement’s role in mental health intervention?
10) As president, how would you respond to an incident involving law enforcement, such as a police-involved shooting or use-of-force incident that has gained national attention?
What police and crime-related questions would you have for the presidential candidates? Add them in the comments.