MANCHESTER, NH — Sanctioned graffiti on the brick wall outside Manchester Police headquarters is a solid promise of support from Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. He left his autograph in a place where officers will see it every time they head out to the beat, where heroin is Enemy No. 1.
It was a meaningful gesture, says Chief Nick Willard.
“He said he wanted the officers to know that he appreciates what they do every time they hit the streets. He said it, in words, but he said he also wanted to leave a visual reminder, something that they can see as they head out the door,” Willard says. “It was poignant.”
Trump spent about 20 minutes at Manchester police headquarters on Thursday, and addressed about 60 of the officers, who came to hear him speak. He is the first candidate to ever do that, says Willard.
“It’s the first time a candidate has ever asked to come here and address the officers, and thank them for being on the front lines,” Willard says.
Trump was initially set to arrive at shift change, but pushed back his visit by 15 minutes to allow more time, Willard says.
During his remarks to the rank and file, Trump said he would make sure they get the respect they deserve — something he says they are not currently getting on a national scale.
“You’re not recognized properly, but you will be recognized properly if I win,” Trump said.
Trump also said the national dialogue around police officers who have gone off the rails has to be changed.
“You have one bad apple, which happens in every business, and it becomes the news cycle for two weeks,” Trump said.
Willard said he has met with other candidates, including Jeb Bush and John Kasich, and he will be meeting with Carly Fiorina next week.
“I believe when candidates are coming through New Hampshire and they want to meet law enforcement, I’m open to giving them that opportunity,” Willard says. ‘The national narrative right now around law enforcement disturbs me, and Mr. Trump said it bothers him as well.”