Wineke: Law and Order, Trump style

Us Health Virus Briefing
US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 6, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

MADISON, Wis. — Here is “Law and Order” Trump style: The Department of Homeland Security sends teams of police-type guards to Portland, Oregon, where they face dangerous combatants — a “Wall of Moms” dressed in yellow tee shirts and shoot chemical gas at the moms and at the city’s mayor.

The Justice Department dispatches a couple hundred federal officials to Chicago, where they are supposed to support local police and are encouraged by President Donald Trump who, helpfully, describes that city’s mayor as being incompetent, stupid and weak.

Meanwhile, the news shows photograph the DHS forces marching through the streets looking alarmingly like the Darth Vader storm troopers in “Star Wars” movies. The DHS forces were also seen clubbing a middle-aged Navy veteran into submission after he has the temerity to try to speak with them.

Honest to God, no one could make this stuff up.

America’s state and local officials have a lot on their plates these days but the very last thing they need is assistance from Trump’s law-and-order brigades.

I suspect some of the assistance from the Justice Department meant to augment ongoing relationships with local authorities may prove to be helpful but it will be undermined by association with the president’s reelection politics.

The problem is that the president seems to believe sincerely that he can solve any problem by fiat. He should be able to order the tide to roll back and then see the water recede.

Most of the problems of Chicago and Portland and, for that matter, Madison, go back for generations. The closure of schools, recreational facilities and sport competitions along with unemployment records not seen since the Great Depression add to the problem.

It is also true that most cities, perhaps all cities, already have a trained group of men and women skilled at dealing with urban violence. They are called police officers.

Chicago, for example, has 12,000 police officers. They are trained in dealing with crime, mass protest and gang violence. They have been doing so for years. They know the neighborhoods of the city. They know the people of the city.

That’s true in every city. It is true in Madison. We can and should question how our police forces exercise their responsibility and we should weed out those officers incapable of acting professionally, just as we should weed out clergy and physicians and teachers who cannot act professionally.

But what our police forces do not need is untrained and unnamed guys in mock solider suits showing up from no where and causing havoc.

Sending in platoons of border patrol officers and letting them drive through Portland picking up protesters and throwing them into unmarked vans does not promote law and order. What happened in Portland only promoted more unrest.

I suspect that was the idea in the first place.