September 18, 2016
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police announced Sunday night that it is officially endorsing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
In an email, FOP Lodge #5 President John McNesby confirmed to PhillyVoice that the union is bound by the national Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump last Friday and released the following statement.
"[Trump] has seriously looked at the issues facing law enforcement today," said Chuck Canterbury, the FOP's national president. "He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again."
The announcement from Philadelphia's police union comes nearly two months after McNesby publicly criticized Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for her party's selection of speakers at the Democratic National Convention. The list included the family members of several victims of police violence but did not represent voices from victims in the law enforcement community.
"The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows, and other family members of Police Officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit, and not implied racism, and 'being on duty in blue,'" McNesby wrote at the time.
The endorsement of Trump, McNesby said Sunday, is the result of strict adherence to a by-law.
"Basically we follow the lead of the national," McNesby said. "We cannot differ."
At the time of the DNC, FOP Vice President Roosevelt Poplar told PhillyVoice that the union would have been fine with the event's proceedings if it had also included the voices of police officers who "were victimized by criminals" and "paid the ultimate sacrifice."
The DNC came on the heels of a brutally violent and tense month in communities across the United States after the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and five Dallas police officers who were fatally shot by a gunman targeting law enforcement during a protest organized by Black Lives Matter.
Responding to the FOP's umbrage, a Clinton campaign spokeswoman in Pennsylvania told PhillyVoice that Clinton has said "we need to support heroic police officers who put their lives on the line" as well as listen to those who have been victimized by police brutality.
Earlier on Sunday, Canterbury spoke to NPR about the national FOP's endorsement of Trump, arguing that the GOP candidate aims to reduce system poverty and unemployment as a means of lowering crime rates. Clinton, he claims, plans to initiate police reforms through a "social engineering" approach that will target "a profession that doesn't need to be reformed."
"What we need to do is have people that will partner with us in these neighborhoods, help reduce unemployment, get people jobs," Canterbury said. "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."
Clinton, who will campaign in Philadelphia on Monday, currently leads Trump by a slim 0.9-point margin in national polls. In combined battleground state polls, the candidates were deadlocked at 42 percent each. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll, Clinton held a five-point lead over Trump (48-43) in Pennsylvania, a state some observers believe will tilt and reflect the national election as a whole. Reports that emerged Sunday, meanwhile, found that Clinton's campaign has vastly outworked Trump in Pennsylvania.