It's uncertain how a Trump administration will affect police-minority relationships in Rhode Island -- but national tone can impact what happens on local streets.
From the PROVIDENCE JOURNAL: “Police try to gauge the Trump Effect in R.I.” by Amanda Milkovits, Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I., Saturday, Nov 26, 2016 — […] This is the reality of policing in Rhode Island, where the immigrant population has increased, where people of color make up more than a quarter of the population and where police officers are called to serve a diverse community.
Even as violent protests have erupted nationally over officer-involved slayings of black people, local law enforcement and community leaders of various backgrounds say they've been working together to build trust and understanding.
But there's uncertainty about how a Trump administration will affect those relationships. While local police control their policies and responses, decisions made hundreds of miles away, in Washington, D.C., can have an impact on what happens on these streets.
Andrew Horwitz, the director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Roger Williams University, said the nature of public discourse is influenced by what's happening nationally. So, if there's no real tolerance or respect in conversations on a broader scale, he says, what does that mean for relationships locally?
Police and minority communities "struggle to have a productive relationship, and I fear the situation will get worse, not better," Horwitz said. "The local leadership in Providence has been progressive, but they work in this environment, and I think this campaign has created a toxic environment."
Race was a prominent part of this campaign. "What concerns me is Donald Trump as a candidate engaged in racial profiling in explicit ways, and he doesn't have the recognition and ability to understand what a community being racially profiled experiences," Horwitz said.
How will it translate into policies? Who knows, Horwitz said.
"I don't believe he believes many of the things he says," Horwitz said. "I find it very difficult to figure out what he believes, if anything."