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At Police Officer's Wake, Trump Seeks Contrast With Biden on Crime

Former President Donald Trump arrives for the wake of New York City police officer Jonathan Diller, March 28, 2024, in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Diller was shot and killed Monday during a traffic stop, the city's mayor said.
Former President Donald Trump arrives for the wake of New York City police officer Jonathan Diller, March 28, 2024, in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Diller was shot and killed Monday during a traffic stop, the city's mayor said.

Donald Trump attended Thursday's wake of a New York City police officer gunned down in the line of duty and called for "law and order" as part of his attempt to show a contrast with President Joe Biden and focus on crime as part of his third White House campaign.

The visitation for Officer Jonathan Diller, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop on Monday, was held in suburban Massapequa on Long Island. Police said the 31-year-old Diller was shot below his bulletproof vest while approaching an illegally parked car in Queens.

Diller, who was married and had a 1-year-old son, was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

The visit by Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, came as Biden was also in New York for a previously scheduled fundraiser with former Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Trump has accused Biden of lacking toughness, and his campaign sought to contrast his visit with Biden's fundraiser.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung, in a post on X, noted Trump's visit and said, "Meanwhile, the Three Stooges — Biden, Obama, and Clinton — will be at a glitzy fundraiser in the city with their elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the president has spoken with New York City's mayor, but she said she didn't have any "private communications to share" when asked if Biden had spoken to the family of the officer who was killed. Jean-Pierre said the administration's hearts go out to the officer's family.

Speaking aboard Air Force One, she said Biden has supported law enforcement throughout his entire career and took a dig at Trump's record.

"Violent crime surged under the previous administration," Jean-Pierre said. "The Biden-[Vice President Kamala] Harris administration have done the polar opposite, taking decisive action from the very beginning to fund the police and achieving a historic reduction in crime."

After visiting in the funeral home with Diller's family, Trump spoke outside to news reporters with about a dozen local police officers, half in patrol uniforms, half in tactical gear, forming as a backdrop behind him.

"We have to get back to law and order. We have to do a lot of things differently. This is not working. This is happening too often," Trump said.
He did not elaborate.

Mixed views on law enforcement

Trump has deplored crime in heavily Democratic cities, has called for shoplifters to be shot immediately, and wants to immunize police officers from lawsuits for potential misconduct. But he's also demonized local prosecutors, the FBI and the Department of Justice over the criminal prosecutions he faces and the investigation while he was president into his first campaign's interactions with Russia.

He has also embraced those imprisoned for their roles on the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, when a mob of his angry supporters overran police lines and Capitol and local police officers were attacked and beaten.

Massapequa and the surrounding South Shore towns have long been a popular destination for city police officers and firefighters looking to set down roots on Long Island. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York, this area is a heavily Republican part of Long Island that Trump won in the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, prosecutors in Queens charged Diller’s alleged shooter, Guy Rivera, with first degree murder and other charges. Rivera, who was shot in the back when Diller's partner returned fire, was arraigned from his hospital bed. Rivera's lawyers at Legal Aid declined to comment, according to spokesman Redmond Haskins.

Biden has pledged that the federal government will work more closely with police to combat gun violence and crack down on illegal guns.

New FBI statistics released earlier this month showed that overall violent crime in the U.S. dropped again last year, continuing a downward trend after a pandemic-era spike. The FBI data found murders dropped 13% in the last three months of 2023 compared with the same period the year before, and violent crime overall was down 6%.

The FBI's report was in line with the findings of the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice, which found that homicides were down an average of 10% from the year before in a survey of 32 cities, though it found violent crime still remained higher than before the coronavirus pandemic in many cities.