Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Endorsements of Clinton as Much a Labor Matter as a Police One

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Endorsements of Clinton as Much a Labor Matter as a Police One

Article excerpt

Bill Clinton has made his efforts to fight crime and boost law enforcement a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

And endorsements from leading police organizations have lent credibility, especially because, it's being said, support for a Democrat by such groups is unusual. Their praise for the administration has helped take the law-and-order issue away from the Republicans, just as Bob Dole was trying to draw attention to drugs and crime.

But there is more - and less - to this than meets the eye. Largely overlooked is the fact that those announcing police support are labor unions as much as they are representatives of law enforcement. Their current support has to be viewed in that light. The two key groups recently endorsing Clinton are the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Union of Police Associations. The latter represents 40,000 law enforcement officers, mainly police officers and civilian employees, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers and federal Pentagon police and uniformed Secret Service. From Richard Nixon's talk of law-and-order to George Bush's Willie Horton ads, Republicans - seen by many as favoring tough responses and a focus on personal responsibility while Democrats pondered the root causes of crime - benefited from rising public concern over safety. And so the support by the International Union of Police Associations is perceived as marking a departure, one made possible by Clinton's crime bill, his plans to add 100,000 police officers and his move to the middle. The flaw in this notion is that the same group endorsed him four years ago. And it did so for many of the same reasons as the Teamsters or Steelworkers or American Federation of Teachers. The International Union of Police Associations is an AFL-CIO union, the only one that exclusively represents law enforcement officers, and it generally supports Democrats, who are seen as embracing workplace rules helpful to workers and laws making it easier to unionize. "We are a full union," says Rich Roberts, spokesman for the Virginia-based group, "in the sense that in 100 percent of our locals, we are involved in the traditional labor activity of representing rank-and-file officers. …

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