President-Elect Joe Biden had a tough time securing endorsements from police leaders in his third run for the White House. A self-professed friend of rank-and-file cops, Biden’s recent calls for more national policing reforms and his support of the Black Lives Matter movement have created cracks in his long-standing relationship with law enforcement groups.
After endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket twice and then remaining neutral in 2016, the National Association of Police Organizations threw its support behind President Trump this year, along with virtually every other law enforcement organization. NAPO’s President called the Biden-Harris ticket, "the most radical anti-police ticket in history."
Former New York City Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, told Yahoo Finance Live that’s not a fair assessment. “That's a dog whistle that I think you'll find as the Biden administration comes into position. The Biden experience with law enforcement over the last 40 years will take center stage, and that experience is collaboration,” he said.
In 2002, then-Senator Biden wrote an op-ed for the Delaware State News supporting more police on the streets to combat a rise in the national crime rate.
“Put a cop on three of four corners and guess where the crime is going to be committed? On the fourth corner, where the cop isn’t. More cops clearly means less crime,” Biden wrote in the op-ed.
In another pro-police move, Biden helped write the controversial 1994 crime bill, which put 100,000 more police officers on the streets. Critics say it led to mass incarcerations and more aggressive policing, disproportionately impacting the Black community.
Eighteen years later and Biden is calling for police reforms and talking about the need to rid law enforcement of systemic racism.
“What he got caught up in this year is the whole issue around criminal-justice reform, Black Lives Matter,” said Bratton, who worked closely with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris when she was district attorney in San Francisco and he was police commissioner of Los Angeles.
“They're [Biden-Harris] very mindful of the need for not only law and order, which somehow or another has become a dirty word in this country, but law and order and justice. What’s being asked for with criminal-justice reform is reform of the criminal-justice system. So you can have law and order, but you can have justice at the same time, and I think the president-elect is uniquely qualified to fill that bill.”
Following the shooting last month of a Black man by police officers in Philadelphia, Harris came out in support of creating a national registry of police officers with records of misconduct. She also called for creating national standards on the use of force.
“I think something like that is needed,” Bratton said. “We have seen too many instances where officers who are fired for often times egregious actions are able to, because their records effectively are sealed, are able to be rehired by other police agencies. So they just move from department to department.”
Bratton, who also spent time as Boston’s top cop during his 50-year career in law enforcement, said the critical first step to meaningful police reform is establishing a set of national standards and urged Biden to address the issue in his first 100 days in office.
“I think now is the time to do it,” he said. “That would be my encouragement, of a national commission that ensures that we still have law, that we still have order, but that we have justice in conformity with the criminal-justice reform, which is what many of the groups out there have been marching and demonstrating for.”
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.