Donald Trump

Ready for a Federal 'Blue Lives Matter' Law?

Trump releases executive orders calling for more federal action on crime-fighting, police protections.

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Trump and Sessions
Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom

Today, as Jeff Sessions was formally sworn in as attorney general for Donald Trump's administration, the president signed and released a trio of executive actions detailing his commitment to fight crime, most particularly drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and violent crimes against law enforcement officers.

To be clear, though these are all executive orders, they do not actually attempt to change any existing rules or policies immediately. This isn't like Trump's order on travel visas—the president does not have anywhere near as much latitude in changing laws and regulations here. As we saw under President Barack Obama, though, he can set the stage for how the Department of Justice actually implements or enforces laws.

What we see from these executive orders is Trump calling for exactly what he has promised while campaigning. He argues that we are in a surge of threatening violent crimes, actual data be damned, and wants to reverse it.

One executive action calls for increased efforts in fighting "transnational criminal organizations," particularly drug cartels and human traffickers. It calls for more of what federal law enforcement is already doing (see Elizabeth Nolan Brown's reporting on trafficking this morning) and calls for a new "working group."

The second executive action calls for a "task force" to "reduce crime and restore public safety to communities across the Nation." If this sounds a little redundant when matched up to the previous executive order, that's somewhat the case. Of concern, it calls for federal law enforcement to "take the lead" in supporting local public safety issues, whatever that could possibly mean. A very important bullet point about this task force's goals that should be a concern for those who would see a ramping down on actions like the drug war:

[I]dentify deficiencies in existing laws that have made them less effective in reducing crime and propose new legislation that could be enacted to improve public safety and reduce crime

This sounds like a call for tougher laws or sentences. That does not sound like an administration that is interested in the Department of Justice taking it easy on the people it arrests.

The third executive order contains what is probably the most ominous proposal. It's an order calling for strategies to protect law enforcement officers across the country and at all levels from violence. It contains this possible goal:

[P]ursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution's regime of limited and enumerated Federal powers, that will define new Federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing Federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.

Who is ready for a federal Blue Lives Matter sentence enhancement law! It also suggests further down the possibility of increasing mandatory minimum sentences for crimes that involve violence against police.

Two important things: First, despite the constant rhetoric and some high-profile incidents, police have been largely seeing a lengthy drop in violence targeting them over years. There was an uptick in 2016, but it was an anomaly (and not a huge one) in the current downward trends. In total, 63 police officers were killed by gunfire in 2016. Another 12 were killed by vehicular assault. These are the numbers over which we're considering new federal laws and penalties. I noted in October that there's also been an increase in the number of assaults on law enforcement officers, but it's too soon to say there's a trend there, and it's again after years of decreasing numbers. The data does not support the "war on police" narrative.

Second, we've seen what has happened in Louisiana as a result of efforts to create "new" laws to protect police, and it's not pretty. Louisiana passed a law adding police and emergency responders to its hate crime statute. Meaning, if a person specifically targets a police officer for a crime, he or she faces an enhanced sentence as though they had targeted somebody on the basis of their race or religion.

Well, that's what the law is supposed to mean. In reality, what has happened so far is that police have attempted (unsuccessfully) to charge people with hate crimes on the basis of them saying things the police didn't like while the police were interacting with them. That's allegedly not what the hate crime law is supposed to do, yet the very people covered by the law are the ones who are deciding whether to charge somebody with it. As C.J. Ciaramella noted, one police chief in the state attempted to argue that simply resisting arrest in Louisiana could be classified as a hate crime.

The last thing we want or need to happen is for such a terrible law to pass nationally and subject people to federal prosecution for such subjective reasons. We have enough of that already.

President Trump's collection of executive orders can be read through here.

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  1. Christ, what a fascist, loofah-faced shit-gibbon.

    1. The upsurge of hate crimes will go through the roof, considering that that a resisting arrest charge is routinely tacked on to most arrests.

  2. Dear God no.

  3. Well the progs have no one to blame but themselves. If you believe ‘hate speech’ can be acted on by the state, and is not ‘free speech’… well then fuck you, you deserve what you get.

    1. Fuck that line of thought. So the rest of us get what they deserve too?

      1. I agree. We all suffer because progs are idiots. Not just on this but every god damned issue.

        In California, we have an artificial water shortage because progs shut down damns, we have the most expensive housing because they regulate and eliminate new housing, we have crap city services because they spend all the budget on union giveaways, etc.

        At least this one fucking time, the main people hurting from this will be progs.

        1. Fucking Christ you sound very much like that enemy you claim to despise.

          1. A lot of that going around.

            I’d really love to think there is some way to actually start getting the government out of our lives, but everything I’ve seen happen politically in this century — so far — reminds me why there really isn’t.

          2. no, I’m saying i’m glad it’ll hurt progs more, because maybe, just maybe they will get the idea in their head that the government shouldn’t control this in the first place.

            Who am I fucking kidding. As soon as team blue is back in power, their attitude will flip again. They are like a fucking magnet

            1. How will it hurt “progs” more? Oh you mean black people don’t you.

      2. I’ll believe there are good citizens when they start ousting the violence-prone, howler-monkey sociopaths in their midst from their jobs if not evicting civil society altogether. Until then, it’s guilt by association.

    2. It would be nice if we didn’t have to get what they deserve, too.

    3. The problem is that the rest of us get what they deserve also.

      1. Those damn squirre- oh wait.

    4. Yeah and fuck progs for creationism in school too. If they hadn’t invented books…!

  4. Police need to be added to the special snowflake rolls. Clearly they need to be treated even more specially than other citizens, or they can’t be expected to do their jobs, which they have a right to and can’t be fired for not performing.

  5. It strikes me that the best realistic thing we can do is to monitor our local police force. My local force has a semi-annual “Citizens Academy:” 24 hours spread over 12 weeks learning about police protocol, rules of engagement, drug busts, SWAT, etc. I think I’ll sign up for the next one so I can know what I’m talking about and interact with the instructors and class to discuss possible abuses or procedural changes that should be recommended.

    1. My local force has a semi-annual “Citizens Academy:” 24 hours spread over 12 weeks learning about police protocol, rules of engagement, drug busts, SWAT, etc.

      I would pay to use my local department’s shooting range. A little competition and showing up more than once a year to ‘recertify’ would probably do a lot of local officers some good.

  6. Curious but how does one determine 2016 is an anomaly at this point? Is there an el nino?

    1. How else would you dismiss it?

      1. You could dismiss it by pointing out that many other uncelebreted occupations face consistently greater dangers year in and year out.

        1. But do they also show ‘anomalous’ spikes in deaths for 2016? If not, why bring them into the discussion?

  7. OH MY GOD REASON STOP BASHING TRUMP THE CARTELS ARE RAPING AND MURDERING AND DESTROYING THE BLOOD OF OUR YOUTH WE MUST ROUND THEM ALL UP ESPECIALLY THE ONES WITH THE NICK NAMES AND SEND THEM OVER THE WALL ONCE ITS FINISHED AND WE ARE FINALLY SAFE AND OUR YOUTH WILL THANK US FOR THIS INVESTMENT IN THEIR FUTURE

  8. Could he be a bigger douche? He’s probably a bigger douche than both John Edwardses and they are the biggest douche in the universe.

  9. Trump intentionally deflected attention off these executive orders with his “joke” yesterday. Genius!

  10. You fucking just know they’re going to use military intelligence unbound by constitutional restraint to wage this domestic law enforcement orgy.

  11. Attacking police is already one of the most dangerous things you can do. Seriously, cop-killers don’t tend to survive very long.

    So when before we get to”the data doesn’t support this”, we already effectively have “harsher punishments for people that harm cops” policies. Just not laws.

  12. “What we see from these executive orders is Trump calling for exactly what he has promised while campaigning.”

    Thats the very definition of un-presidential!

  13. “What we see from these executive orders is Trump calling for exactly what he has promised while campaigning.”

    Thats the very definition of un-presidential!

  14. so, basically, trump spends 1/3 of his day signing orders, 1/3 on twitter, and another 1/3 at very ceremonial events saying bullshit?

  15. All lives matter or none matter. Take your pick. Cops already get special privileges as to the various minorities who claim that that a crime against them is worse than a crime against the average white male. Egalitarianism makes sense, hate crime classification does not, and neither do these “blue laws” .

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