Clinton plans meeting with top law enforcement officers at sensitive time in police-community relations

Clinton plans meeting with top law enforcement officers at sensitive time in police-community relations

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Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tours high school classrooms before speaking to Ohio voters at a rally Wednesday in Cleveland. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton plans to meet Thursday in New York with some leading law enforcement officers from around the country, including from some of its largest cities, to discuss “challenges and opportunities” they face, an aide said.

The closed-door session comes at a sensitive time in relations between police and the communities they protect, as officers have recently been killed in targeted incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge. At the same time, several high-profile police shootings of African Americans have also roiled the nation this summer, including this week in Milwaukee.

Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump, has cast himself as the “law and order” candidate in the race, including during a speech Tuesday in the predominantly white city of West Bend, Wis., about an hour outside of Milwaukee. Before that event, he met with local law enforcement officers.

Clinton has sought to walk a narrower line, expressing support for law enforcement but also sympathizing with the concerns of Black Lives Matter activists and others outraged by police conduct that has led to the deaths of African American citizens.

In a speech to a gathering of the NAACP last month in the immediate aftermath of the shootings that killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Clinton said “this madness has to stop,” declaring that those who take aim at police “take aim at all of us.”

She then suggested that the best way to honor fallen police is to work on improving policing — with the aim of avoiding the deaths of African Americans in police custody — and to take steps to reduce gun violence.

Thursday’s meeting has been in the works for several weeks, the Clinton aide said, and will include eight law enforcement leaders from cities of different sizes.

They include: Charles Beck, chief in Los Angeles; Bill Bratton, commissioner in New York; James O’Neill, chief in New York; Chris Magnus, chief in Tucson; Kathleen O’Toole, chief in Seattle; Charles Ramsey, former chief in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.; J. Scott Thomson, chief in Camden County, N.J.; and Lupe Valdez, sheriff in Dallas County.

The aide said the gathering will build on smaller sessions Clinton and her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, have had as candidates, as well as on Clinton’s past work.

As a senator from New York, for example, the aide said, Clinton sponsored legislation to speed up the payments of benefits to officer who died in the line of duty during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The Clinton aide spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a meeting that has not yet been formally announced.

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