Tim Kaine and Mike Pence stake out starkly different visions on crime

The Democratic vice-presidential nominee embracing stop and frisk would be a big mistake but Republican Pence said claims of implicit bias demeaned police

Criminal justice reform took center stage in the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday night, with Tim Kaine and Mike Pence offering dramatically different visions of policing the US.

The issue has come to the forefront in 2016 in the aftermath of a series of high-profile police killings of unarmed African American men that have brought new focus on tensions between law enforcement and minority communities. Since 2015 the Guardian project The Counted has been counting the people killed by US law enforcement agencies, in the absence of any comprehensive record kept by the US government.

At the debate in Farmville, Virginia, Pence categorically denied there was racial bias in policing tactics. What Donald Trump and I are saying is lets not have the reflex of assuming the worst of men and women in law enforcement, the Republican said. We truly do believe that law enforcement is not a force for racism or division in our country.

He reminisced about his uncle, a former police officer in Chicago whom he described as his hero growing up, and accused his opponent of playing politics on the issue. Senator, please, Pence said, turning to Kaine: Enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs. He went on to attack Hillary Clinton over remarks that the Democratic nominee made in the first presidential debate about implicit bias.

People shouldnt be afraid to bring up issues of bias in law enforcement, Kaine responded, attacking in particular Trumps recent assertion that he would implement nationwide stop-and-frisk the controversial police tactic of stopping passersby, questioning them and checking for weapons that was deemed unconstitutional in 2013 for disproportionately targeting African Americans and Hispanics.

That would be a big mistake, Kaine said. It polarizes the relationship between the police and the community.

Pence defended the tactic and suggested that it benefited families that live in our inner cities that are besieged by crime while insisting on the need for stronger leadership at the national level to support law enforcement.

Most public research on race and law enforcement provides evidence that black people are more likely to be stopped by police. Young black men were also nine times more likely to be killed by police than others, according to the Guardians data on police killings.

Trump is currently polling in single digits among African Americans, with some states giving the Republican nominee 0-1% support from the demographic.

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