Across the country, former police officers are making the leap into running for elected office, hoping to bring the concerns of police officers to the halls of Congress and beyond. At a time when there seem to be more anti-police politicians than ever, their voices are desperately needed.
Here’s a look at a few of the candidates who will be on the ballot in elections this November:
John Cummings, New York
A former member of the NYPD is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers the Bronx and Queens. John Cummings was a police officer from 1983 through 1991, when he was injured in the line of duty.
After leaving the NYPD, Cummings became a history and government teacher at Saint Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx, his own alma mater. He is running for office to provide a moderate alternative to AOC’s socialist policies, and he thinks the message will resonate with the district’s working-class voters.
“We have raised over $3.5 million from over 70,000 donors from all 50 states; and we have the candidate and message to contrast with AOC’s radical socialist agenda and unbelievable disconnect from the very voters she claims to represent,” the Cummings campaign told the New York Post.
Cummings believes in fully funding our police, expanded training, and using all available technologies to keep New York City safe. He would also protect residents’ Second Amendment rights and seek to overturn prohibitive gun regulations in the city.
Ocasio-Cortez maintains high approval ratings in the district since taking office in 2018, making Cummings a long-shot candidate in November’s election.
Josh Hicks, Kentucky
Josh Hicks, a Democrat running for Congress representing Kentucky’s 6th district, spent five years as a police officer in Marysville, Kentucky in between his service in the U.S. Marine Corps and later work as an attorney.
He said his experience in law enforcement gave him a perspective about how to stand up for police officers while regaining the public’s trust through common-sense structural reforms.
“Where we have broken the public trust, where the public trust is lacking, it’s our responsibility as law enforcement officers … to stand up and say [that] the only way to regain this trust is to prove that we’re accountable to that community, and prove that we’re dedicated to being public servants,” Hicks told Roll Call. “And I think that is a message that’s resonating. I’ve seen it from police chiefs across the country.”
Though the 6th district encompasses the cities of Lexington and Frankfurt, President Trump won by more than 15 points in 2016 and the seat is currently held by Republican Andy Barr. Hicks is currently a long shot to win in November, but if he does, he’s vowed to support a proposal by Rep. Tammy Duckworth to give the Department of Justice more oversight of police-involved shootings.
“I think that’s a good way to look at this because we have a lot of trust to rebuild in this country, not just between police officers and their communities, but between people and their government, and this is a way to show that we’re responsive,” Hicks said.
Val Demings, Florida
Congresswoman Val Demings, who currently represents Florida’s 10th district, is up for re-election this year. Demings spent 27 years with the Orlando Police Department and became the city’s first police chief in 2007.
Demings was rumored to be on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s list of potential vice presidential candidates. During her tenure as police chief, she worked to track problematic officers before their behavior caused larger issues within the department.
“I instituted what we called an early warning system,” Demings told NPR. “This gave us a better way of tracking officers who were possibly exhibiting behavior that caused us concern. We would pull them out of assignments, send them to counseling if they needed it, reassign them, give them additional training.”
Demings also has a record of standing by police officers who face wrongful accusations of excessive force, as she did in the case of Daniel Daley in 2010
“After a review of the defensive tactic form by the training staff and Officer Lamont’s chain of command, it appears the officer performed the technique within department guidelines,” Demings told Politico. “The goal of police work should always be to keep people safe and resolve dangerous situations without injury.”
We are now officially in an election year, and there are several key races that will impact police operations and public support nationally and in cities across the country. Here are three races that the National Police Support Fund is watching this year.