- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2021

Retired police officer Paul Beakman Jr. enthusiastically voted for President Trump in November after being moved to tears by the outpouring of respect and support he felt for law enforcement at a Trump rally in Pennsylvania this summer.

But after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, resulting in the death of a fellow officer and four civilians, Mr. Beakman says he regrets his vote for the president.

“For [Mr. Trump] to go out and say he backs the blue and is pro-police and then see those thugs viciously attack the men and women in uniform who were just trying to do their job, it’s disgusting,” he told The Washington Times.

“It’s bad enough that there have been attacks on law enforcement from the left and now they have it from the right,” he continued. “Our nation’s leader incited the violence and someone needs to be held accountable, and it’s him.”

Mr. Trump ran one of the most pro-law enforcement political campaigns in recent memory and the police responded. Police unions across the country mobilized like never before to support Mr. Trump ahead of the presidential election. Even union chapters that have never endorsed political candidates sided with the president because of his support for law enforcement.

But after a Capitol Police officer was killed during the violent riot at the Capitol, they feel betrayed by the president. Adding insult to injury is that after Officer Brian Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the insurrection, Mr. Trump still hasn’t contacted his family and that the White House flag wasn’t lowered to half-staff in his honor until Sunday afternoon.

“It has changed our opinion of him,” said Paul DiGiacomo, president of the New York City Detectives’ Endowment Association, said of Mr. Trump.

The NYCDEA went so far as to launch a voter registration drive for its members and has several initiatives to educate members about local, state and national candidates

“At the time in the process of the presidential endorsement, no one had a crystal ball,” he told The Times. “The other candidate was supporting ‘defund the police’ and a lot of reforms that didn’t make common sense.”

Police officers overwhelmingly backed Mr. Trump, saying they couldn’t support Democrat Joseph R. Biden because he refused to condemn the violent riots that broke out across the country after George Floyd’s death. They also said they were concerned about Democrats’ support of the Defund the Police movement.

But police unions that once blasted Mr. Biden for his tepid denunciation of rioters say they are angry that Mr. Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol.

In the ensuing chaos, Trump supporters attacked officers with metal pipes and other weapons. More than 50 U.S. Capitol Police and Washington Metropolitan Police officers were injured, with “several officers” hospitalized with serious injuries.

Officer Sicknick died Thursday night from injuries sustained during the insurrection. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

The fallout has police unions questioning whether they ever should have supported Mr. Trump in the first place.

In July, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) this summer became the first law enforcement organization to endorse Mr. Trump, hailing the president’s “steadfast and very public support for our men and women on the front lines.”

But the group appeared to back away from its support from Mr. Trump after the mayhem at the Capitol.

NAPO Executive Director Bill Johnson told the Times on Friday that the endorsement was about the Republican stance on law enforcement, not about Mr. Trump himself.

“The endorsement process was an endorsement of the Republican Party’s platform on law enforcement issues, not a personality contest,” Mr. Johnson said.

What’s more, the Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Mr. Trump in September, issued a statement Wednesday calling for the president to “forcefully urge these demonstrators” to stand down.

“The actions of some of these demonstrators are endangering our elected officials, congressional staff, ordinary citizens and the law enforcement officers on the scene,” the FOP, which is the nation’s largest police union, said in a statement.

That statement contrasted its endorsement this fall, which stated Mr. Trump has shown “time after time that he supports our law enforcement officers.”

FOP Executive Director James Pasco said endorsements are made by the national board and there is no talk about taking back that endorsement.

“At the time endorsements were made, it was based on our expectations of what will happen and at the time we did it we were confident and no one has suggested we revisit it,” he said. “We were very clear we didn’t like what happened on Wednesday.”

Mr. Paso said it’s too early to say whether the FOP would back the president if he ran again in 2024.

“We have in the past endorsed Joe Biden. Does that mean we regret previous endorsements? It just means we didn’t feel he was the right person this time,” he said.

The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association this summer made Mr. Trump their first presidential endorsement in nearly 40 years.

NCPBA Executive Director John Midgette said the organization hasn’t thought about withdrawing the endorsement, noting the contrasting law enforcement platforms of the two presidential candidates.

“President Trump, other than his unfortunate remarks of late, has done so much to support law enforcement and President-elect Biden has not done that,” he said.

Still, he conceded that some of his organization’s 60,000 members are “feeling let down” by Mr. Trump.

The riot has raised questions about the actions of the Capitol Police, as some videos on social media appear to show officers removing barriers to allow the rioters into the building.

Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, pushed back against those claims in a television interview Sunday.

“I resent any sense that the Capitol Police didn’t push back, fight back valiantly get out there and stand between first the building and then the people in the building that they’re there to protect.”

Mr. Blunt said the social media videos are out of context and misleading.

“The Capitol Police fought back. You can do anything with looking at film, not knowing what you’re talking about,” Mr. Blunt said. “I do know when you’re overwhelmed, in law enforcement, one of the things you do is try to step back and regroup rather than just let yourself get surrounded.”

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