Trump Voters Back Police Using Bayonets, Rifles and Helicopters More Than Clinton Voters

Americans who voted for President Donald Trump are more likely than those who voted for Hillary Clinton to say police should be able to carry rifles, wear camouflage, drive large armored vehicles and fly helicopters during routine patrols or traffic stops, according to a new survey about policing in the U.S.

In addition, about 62 percent of the Trump voters questioned in the survey said they thought it was OK for police to use bayonets, which are long knives attached to the barrels of rifles, during routine patrols and traffic stops or during emergencies, while less than half of the Clinton voters held the same view.

Trump voters were also significantly more likely to say that police are respectful of citizens’ rights in their communities, and they were also much more likely to blame a lack of community trust in the police on “negative media stories about police.” Clinton voters were more likely to blame that same lack of trust on “racism among police officers,” according to the survey, which polled 1,001 people across the country and was conducted by the Charles Koch Institute and the Police Foundation.

The issue of police using military-grade weapons and vehicles rose to national attention in 2014 when local law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri responded to ongoing protests about police conduct with armored vehicles and long guns. President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2015 banning sale to local police of certain military equipment, including armored vehicles and camouflage uniforms, but Trump rolled those limits back in August. GettyImages-453505316 Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri on August 11, 2014. The issue of police using military-grade weapons and vehicles rose to national attention during the Ferguson protests. Getty Images

When all respondents are taken into account, Americans see interactions with police getting worse across the nation, with 50 percent saying they were disintegrating and 12 percent reporting such interactions as improving. But when asked about police interactions in their own communities, more than half said they were about the same—with the rest split evenly on whether the interactions had worsened or improved.

A large majority of the people questioned—70 percent—said police should be a constant presence in their communities to prevent crime, as opposed to just responding to crime when it happens.

“Citizens favor a community policing model that includes things like foot patrols where public safety officers are engaged as trusted parts of the community,” Will Ruger, the vice president of policy and research at the Charles Koch Institute, tells Newsweek in a statement. “This will foster a community of trust between the police and the citizens that they are sworn to protect. This is better for our communities and for police officers.” The survey results were released in advance of the Koch Institute’s “Advancing Justice Summit,” being held in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

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