NEW YORK CITY—In the days leading up to the first election results, reporters have busied themselves running around Manhattan complaining that they cannot find any New York Donald Trump supporters to interview. They’re actually pretty easy to spot: they’re the ones in blue uniforms.
Police are out in force, parking trucks filled with sand in front of high-value targets, blocking streets near the candidates, snarling up traffic and doing their best to keep everyone safe and moving. Deciding I’d have a little fun with the capital of American liberalism, I’ve spent the past 24 hours taking in the city underneath a red “Make America Great Again” hat I picked up as a campaign souvenier. It causes a flurry of whispers in most bars and restaurants, but nothing like the reaction of reporters who, camera crew in tow, run up to me excited they’ve found a real one. When I gently tell them I’m a reporter from D.C. having a bit of fun trolling the streets, the disappointment on the faces of Canadian, Japanese and CBS reporters is… visible.
The police out in force, however, have a different reaction: “I like that hat,” one said in a hushed tone as I walked near a heavily fortified Trump Tower. His partner nodded in agreement. In fact, the majority of the approving nods this day came from the cops. A strictly unscientific sampling of officers out of their superior’s earshot was difficult. When I asked about support for Trump on the force, most looked to their partners and slowly, carefully said something like, “We… are… objective… and… professional,” but others were more forthcoming.
“I… cannot possibly comment on that,” one police officer said, smiling as he nodded a “Yes” to us. His partner laughed, nodding along.
Police support for a candidate who supports them is not without precedent. In William F. Buckley’s 1965 race for mayor of New York, the police loved him, rewarding his support for law-and-order, pro-police policies. Neal Freeman, who was with Buckley at the time, writes in his 2015 remembrance, “The Unmaking of a Mayor,”
I can say with absolute certainty that in the summer of 1965 the NYPD fell in love with Bill Buckley. I don’t mean just the Irish and Italians, either, but the black, Hispanic, and Asian cops, too. Bill was stating their case with eloquence and verve and doing so at a time when few other public figures would stand with them. (Not unlike today, in 1965 there were reputable people and reputable publications who claimed to believe that one of the principal causes of urban crime was police misconduct. Not unlike today, those claims were evidence-free and ideologically powered.)
No one can credit Trump with “eloquence,” but the “verve” is on full display when he defends our embattled police, and it appears that 51 years later, the cops on the beat are still listening.