The association of black Cincinnati police officers disagrees with the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement of Donald Trump for president.
The 330,000-member national Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Trump last month. Before that endorsement was announced Sept. 16, members of a Cincinnati chapter took a floor vote that was in favor of Trump. Those results contributed to the national endorsement.
“Local 1900 is not involved in presidential politics,” said local Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils. “We voted in-house to report up.”
Officer Eddie Hawkins, president of the Sentinels Police Association — the group of black Cincinnati police officers — was at the Fraternal Order of Police meeting in which the floor vote was held.
“Not one African American stood up,” he said. Many Fraternal Order of Police members in the hall that night were white retirees, he added.
The local Fraternal Order of Police did endorse dozens of candidates in congressional, state and local races in the upcoming election, almost all of them incumbents. It announced those endorsements in August.
Hawkins is against all Fraternal Order of Police political endorsements.
“We as an organization do not agree with that endorsement and feel that law enforcement should not get involved in politics, but we do encourage everyone to go out and vote,” he said. “And while encouraging people to vote we urge individuals to vote with the individual who looks to better our communities as a whole.”
Founded as an advocacy organization in 1968, when black Cincinnati police officers faced overt race-based disparities in discipline, promotions and assignments, the Sentinels grew from a handful of members to the more than 200 today. The Fraternal Order of Police represents all officers. In August, Hils led efforts to secure police a new contract paying 4% raises for three consecutive years plus a one-time 1% bonus to be paid Jan. 1.
The presidential race involving Republican Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton has further polarized the nation, including the hardening of attitudes along racial lines.
“We, The Sentinels, do not endorse Donald Trump. We do not endorse anyone,” said Hawkins, an 18-year Cincinnati police officer assigned as a police youth specialist.
He said he would prefer if the Fraternal Order of Police, especially in the racially charged climate nationally, abstain from political endorsements. The trial of a white, former University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing, will begin next week. Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati in July 2015.
“With everything going on,” Hawkins said, “we need to stay neutral politically. Maybe now my members will stop asking me if we’re endorsing Trump.”
Cincinnati has about 1,050 sworn police officers. About 30% of them are African American. About 42% of the city’s residents are African American, according to the most recent Census estimates.
Source: USA TODAY