Trump Calls for Zero Tolerance Policy on Violence Against Police

Trump spoke the Major Cities Chief’s Association and Major Counties Sheriff’s Association at a joint conference in Washington on Wednesday morning, during which he defended his immigration order and his proposal to deny funding to sanctuary cities. Recently, Trump has come under criticism from these associtations who released a joint statement along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, expressing “strong reservations” about the order. They argue that it will make it harder for police to find and prosecute violent criminals because immigrants are less likely to cooperate with police investigations, provide witness testimonies and report crimes if sanctuary protections are eliminated. The President used his speech as an opportunity to pander to law enforcement and argue that the immigration ban will actually make it easier for officers to do their jobs because it will “stop the drugs from pouring into our cities”. He asked police and the public to turn in illegal immigrants to homeland security saying, “I want you to turn in the bad ones”. In addition, he associated violence in Chicago, with illegal immigration, saying that, “many of the problems [there] are caused by gang members, many of whom are not even legally in our country”. Although over a dozen American cities have a higher per capita murder rate, Trump has called out Chicago specifically four times so far in his presidency, comparing the violence there to the war zones in the middle east and threatening to “send in the feds”. The president also proposed a zero tolerance policy for violence against law enforcement during the speech. He cited the incident in Dallas in which 5 officers were killed and said that “those who demonize law enforcement or who use the actions of a few… are hurting the very people that say they want to help”. Over the years, an increasing amount of research on zero tolerance policies in schools has concluded that there is little to no evidence that they have any effect in reducing violence. A study done at the Indiana Education Policy Center in 2000 found that “harsher punishments may even invoke a ‘go for broke’ mentality in students i.e. if they know they will be suspended or expelled without question, they will try to commit the most severe form of the offense, or commit additional offenses in addition to their initial act.” and that “minority students are actually less prone to serious offenses related to drugs, alcohol, vandalism, etc. and more likely to receive harsher punishments for milder, more general problems”. If a zero tolerance policy is put into place regarding violence against law enforcement, it is improbable that it will do anything to protect officers, more likely, it will only increase the severity of existing violence and exacerbate the systematic prejudice against minorities by police.