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Maryland police stood apart from others in "no endorsement" of Trump

The Baltimore Sun
Maryland police union said "no endorsement" in national FOP vote to endorse Trump.

Maryland's Fraternal Order of Police dissented from joining other state police unions in endorsing Republican nominee Donald Trump for president last month.

Trump got the backing of 39 of 45 delegates to win the two-thirds majority needed to secure the national organization's endorsement, according to its president, Chuck Canterbury. Five states and the District of Columbia voted not to endorse; none voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, he said. Each state had three choices: Trump, Clinton, or no endorsement.

Maryland's FOP chose not to endorse in the presidential race after a vote at its statewide conference in Baltimore in August, said Darryl Jones, a board member of the state organization. He said more than 400 members "overwhelmingly" accepted a motion to not endorse.

Jones didn't want to speculate about any one member's reasoning but said there was a "frustration" with both candidates. The national FOP represents about 330,000 members, including more than 20,000 current and retired FOP members in Maryland.

Canterbury attributed the endorsement for Trump to the candidate's campaigning on the need for "law and order" and on his support of law enforcement officers. During the endorsement process, Trump filled out a questionnaire and met with the FOP.

"He makes sure they feel appreciated," he said.

Canterbury said the Clinton campaign failed to fill out a questionnaire before the deadline for a national mailing to FOP members, so the organization only sent the responses from the Trump campaign. The Clinton campaign eventually sent in the questionnaire. Canterbury declined to release copies of the questions and answers.

"Her failure to participate is the reason why there were no votes for Hillary," Canterbury said. Of her campaign's tardiness, he said: "It's like telling the officers you just don't care."

Canterbury said the national FOP didn't endorse anyone in the last presidential election, between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Bill Clinton was the last Democratic candidate to get the group's backing, in 1996.

Several Republican members of Congress have withdrawn support for Trump since the release of a 2005 video in which he boasted about being able to grope women because of his celebrity status.

Trump has denied that he forced himself on women without their consent.

Canterbury described Trump's remarks as "crass and very inappropriate" but said that his organization likely wouldn't weigh in "until someone comes forward to press criminal charges."

Louis Hopson of the Vanguard Justice Society, an organization of minority police officers in Baltimore, said that other states should have followed Maryland in voting not to endorse a candidate.

"We need to make sure the commander in chief understands that sexual assault is sexual assault," Hopson said. "Unlawful touching is a violation of the law."

crentz@baltsun.com

twitter.com/cdrentz

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