Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
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A New England police union laid out its cards for Donald Trump Thursday, endorsing the controversial Republican presidential candidate, who claims that, as president, he would call for the death penalty for people who kill cops, the Associated Press reports

The New England Police Benevolent Association offered its praise and endorsement to Trump, even as he battles criticism for proposing to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on,” the newswire notes. Many lawmakers, across party lines, have slammed the proposal as un-American. The White House said that the proposal “disqualified” Trump from the presidency. 

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Nonetheless, union executive board members who attended a closed-door meeting to cast their votes say they believe that Trump is the man who will stand by law enforcement, focusing on his past support of police. Trump also was the only invited candidate to show at the meeting, the association’s executive director, Jerry Flynn, told AP. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another 2016 contender, had responded to the invitation but indicated that he was unable to attend. 

‘‘Listen, our message very clear: It’s what is the next president of the United States going to do to unite this country in an effort to save police officers? Because it’s open season on police officers,’’ Flynn said before the vote, according to AP. ‘‘At this point, those of us who are supportive of any party have to look at what is the best interest of our members.”

According to AP, the union represents almost 5,000 members from approximately 200 locals across the region. 

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‘‘Police forces throughout the country have had a hard time. A lot of people killed,’’ Trump said during the meeting. “I said that one of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order if I win will be sign a strong, strong statement that will go out to the country, out to the world, that anybody killing policemen, policewoman, police officer, anybody killing a police officer, death penalty is going to happen, OK?”

Trump also voiced support for local police departments using military equipment, a usage that President Barack Obama has been working to limit. 

‘‘Every time I see a conflict, I see a van pull up, I see an armor-plated Humvee pull up,” Trump said. “I see almost a tank in some cases pull up. We’ve got to let our police have the finest equipment and the finest training, and if we don’t, we’re making a tremendous mistake as a country.’’

Read more at Boston.com