Top officials at the biggest police union in the country are upset with Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain MORE, saying she snubbed them.

The leader of the National Fraternal Order of Police told The Hill that the Democrat sent a signal through her staff that she wouldn’t be seeking the union’s endorsement.

ADVERTISEMENT
"It sends a powerful message. To be honest with you, I was disappointed and shocked," said Chuck Canterbury, the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police. 

"You would think with law enforcement issues so much in the news that even if she had disagreements with our positions, that she would’ve been willing to say that."

Clinton’s GOP presidential opponent, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE, is now actively seeking the union’s support as he trumpets a “law and order” message on the campaign trail. 

Canterbury spoke to The Hill in a telephone interview Friday shortly after he left Trump Tower in Manhattan. 

He and other leaders of the police union — which says it represents 335,000 members — visited with Trump on Friday morning to sound out the Republican nominee about his positions on issues of importance to law enforcement officers. Politico first reported the meeting.

The union will not be meeting with Clinton because her campaign decided not to fill out a questionnaire that is required for seeking the police union's endorsement.

"We were talking to the highest levels of the campaign, and we had all indications that she was going to return the questionnaire," Canterbury said.

"And on the deadline date we were advised that they declined."

The Fraternal Order of Police has a strict process for making a presidential endorsement. 

It first sends each candidate a lengthy questionnaire; after the candidates complete and return their questionnaires, the union distributes the answers to its membership. 

Finally, in September, the state chapters vote, and if a candidate receives majority support in two-thirds of the states, he or she wins the union's endorsement.

This year, only Trump's campaign filled out the questionnaire.  

Canterbury says that to his knowledge the questionnaire snub has only happened once before — in 2004 with John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE.  

He said President Obama submitted the questionnaire in both 2008 and 2012. 

The last time the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed a Democrat for president was Bill ClintonBill ClintonGOP rep: North Korea wants Iran-type nuclear deal Lawmakers, pick up the ball on health care and reform Medicaid The art of the small deal MORE in 1996, Canterbury said. In 2000 and 2004, the union endorsed George W. Bush, and in 2008 it supported John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE. In 2012, the union endorsed neither Obama nor Mitt Romney because neither could command a two-thirds majority of states, he said. 

Asked about the decision not to seek the police union's endorsement, Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson said, "Throughout her career, Hillary Clinton has been committed to our law enforcement officers."

"As she said from the beginning of her campaign, across the country, police officers are out there every day inspiring trust and confidence, honorably doing their duty, putting themselves on the line to save lives.  

"She believes we must work together to build on what’s working and to build the bonds of trust between police and the communities they serve — because we are stronger together," Ferguson added.

"Hillary and her team have engaged law enforcement throughout the campaign to listen to ideas and solutions, and she will continue to do so as president.” 

Leaders of the police union wouldn't give a straight answer when asked if they believed that Clinton respected law enforcement officers. 

Asked whether he thought Clinton respected the police, Canterbury said, “Can’t answer that question. Don’t know."

Asked the same question, the police union's national executive director, Jim Pasco, said, “I don’t know. She isn’t talking to us."

"You can quote me on that," he added. 

“Candidly, we were very disappointed," Pasco said of Clinton's decision not to fill out the questionnaire.

"We are an organization that tries to be bipartisan and works with members of either party wherever we have common ground." 

"And the idea that a presidential candidate would not want to at least talk to an organization that represents almost half of the police officers in the United States and is a thought leader in the public sphere … is very disappointing."

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention convention, Canterbury wrote a note — widely shared on Facebook — criticizing the party's attitude toward law enforcement, saying Democrats were focused more on the deaths caused by police officers than officers killed in the line of duty.

Democrats had several law enforcement officials speak at their convention. But they seemed to devote more attention to speeches from mothers who lost children in police altercations, labeling them the “Mothers of the Movement.” 

Asked whether he thought policing was becoming a red versus blue issue, Pasco insisted he didn't view support for law enforcement in partisan terms. 

"There are many members of the Democratic Party, elected officials who are stalwart allies of law enforcement," he said.

Pasco singled out Vermont Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill MORE (Vt.) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) for praise. 

Trump is working hard to win the police union's endorsement.

On Friday, the GOP nominee led a 40-minute meeting with the union’s presidential screening committee in a conference room at Trump Tower.  

Trump was alone at the table, and only accompanied in the room by one aide, Rick Gates, Pasco said.

Trump and the union representatives discussed the presidential questionnaire and the GOP nominee asked about the recent violence against police officers. 

"Trump has got a long history of being friendly to law enforcement," Canterbury said. 

"He’s continued that during his campaign. We’ve seen that at most of his campaign stops he takes time to speak to the officers that are protecting him ... very respectful, and that’s being recognized by law enforcement officers." 

Canterbury and Pasco said Trump expressed concern about the number of police officers being killed by firearms in the line of duty.  

"He wanted to know from us did we feel that there was an uptick in assaults and we of course said yes," Canterbury said. 

Canterbury said he was encouraged that Trump pledged his support for “federal dollars for training, as long as it can stay within the budget." 

"He also was in full agreement on lifting the executive order on surplus military equipment."

“I was encouraged by his support of law enforcement but I am banned by our regulations from having a personal opinion," Canterbury said. 

"I have one," he added, "but my membership believes that it’s their decision to make.”