The New England police association that made a controversial splash by endorsing Donald Trump doesn’t represent the views of most police officers in the region and doesn’t negotiate any labor contracts, a law enforcement expert said Friday.
Before its “presidential candidate’s forum’’ in Portsmouth Thursday night, the New England Police Benevolent Association said in a letter to presidential campaign directors that it “will NOT endorse any candidate who does NOT personally attend our candidate forum.’’
Donald Trump was the only candidate present. He received the organization’s official endorsement.
The group, which claims to be the “fastest-growing law enforcement organization in the northeastern United States,’’ has nearly 5,000 members across New England.
But what does that vote of confidence really mean? Nothing, according to Tom Nolan, a former Boston Police Department lieutenant who now teaches criminology at Merrimack College.
“Up until a few months ago, no one had ever heard of them,’’ Nolan said. “This is some wingnut faction of cops who came together and made up some club, and then try to get on the national stage by doing these grandstanding political things.’’
Nolan said he was not aware of the organization, which was founded in 2005, endorsing a presidential candidate in the past. The group’s executive director, Jerry Flynn, a Lowell policeman who’s currently on leave, did not respond to a request for comment from Boston.com.
Nolan, who served in the Boston police force for 27 years, said the association’s views don’t represent those of most police officers in New England — especially of those in Boston.
“They’re trying to give the impression that they represent Boston police officers, but they’re not a labor union that actually negotiates contracts,’’ he said. “This organization is largely constituted by small departments in New Hampshire that are attempting to get a big splash.’’
The association first garnered attention in September when it announced a boycott of President Barack Obama’s Labor Day speech in Boston because it felt his administration was silent on violence against police officers.
“Our members are enraged at his lack of support of law enforcement,’’ Flynn told The Boston Herald. “It’s clear that he has an agenda and unfortunately, the police are not part of his agenda.’’
Trump emphasized his support for police officers after the meeting with the association and called for the death penalty for any person who kills a police officer.
On Thursday morning, Flynn posted a Facebook status that said, “TRUMP POLL NUMBERS SURGE – AS HE LEADS WITH 35% OF ALL REPUBLICAN VOTERS . . . Ted Cruz @ 16% in second place. Haters talk amongst yourselves. . .’’