Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate touched on one of the most contentious and prevalent cultural issues facing the country: community relations with law enforcement. Both Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. (F, 0%) spoke in favor of community policing as a way to improve relations between police and the citizens they serve.
There’s just a tiny problem: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has demonstrated that she cares very little about properly equipping law enforcement to protect communities to their fullest, and instead has used divisive rhetoric to foster a general distrust of police in America.
Senator Kaine was first to answer moderator Elaine Quijano’s two-part question on the subject: “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country? And how would you specifically address the chief’s concerns?”
Kaine began his response by extolling the benefits of building “bonds of understanding” to bridge the gap between police and communities. Then came the inevitable big “but,” and it’s the same “but” Clinton has used to undermine law enforcement and promote her Big Government, gun-control agenda:
“That model still works across our country, but there are some other models that don’t work—an overly aggressive, more militarized model.”
Kaine cited Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for more stop-and-frisk across the country as an example of an approach that “polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.” He then proceeded to explain how Clinton’s “really comprehensive mental health reform package” for law enforcement officials and commitment to fighting the “scourge of gun violence” will mend these broken communities.
Funny … those “solutions” don’t have a thing to do with community policing. What it does sound like is an open invitation for the DOJ to usurp the role of local law enforcement.
So what did Mike Pence have to say? The Indiana governor also said that he supports community policing, but his response focused primarily on the “bad mouthing” that comes from people who “seize upon tragedy in the wake of police action shootings” to push a narrative of “implicit bias” and “institutional racism.”
“We ought to assure the public that we’ll have a full and complete and transparent investigation whenever there’s a loss of life because of police action,” Pence added. “But, senator, please, you know, enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.”
Pence agreed that criminal justice reform is necessary, and that institutional bias is not completely absent within the ranks of the criminal justice system, but he stressed the need to halt the perpetual knee-jerk, anti-police rhetoric following every controversy:
Pence called police “a force for good” and insisted that “what we need to do is assert a stronger leadership at the national level to support law enforcement.”
Both vice presidential nominees said they support community policing Tuesday evening, but only Pence’s proposed policies and verbal backing demonstrated concrete support for police.