Trump’s advice to police: ‘Don’t be too nice’
During a speech in Long Island on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump took a break from discussing gang violence and illegal immigration to give the police officers gathered for his remarks some advice on how to treat suspects.
“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?” Trump said, miming the physical motion of an officer shielding a suspect’s head to keep it from bumping against the squad car. “Like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head,” Trump continued. “I said, you can take the hand away, OK?”
These remarks, coming after Trump talked about towns ravaged by gang violence, met with applause from at least some of the officers gathered for his speech at Suffolk County Community College.
A group of uniform officers standing behind Trump applauded and, when he turned to face them, some smiled and appeared to chuckle.
The Suffolk County police quickly distanced itself from Trump’s comments, saying Friday that it would not accept this treatment of people in custody.
“The Suffolk County Police Department has strict rules and procedures relating to the handling of prisoners, and violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously,” the department said in an emailed statement.
“As a department, we do not and will not tolerate “rough[ing]” up prisoners.”
Trump’s remarks also drew a rebuke from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In a statement, the group did not specifically mention Trump by name but appeared to respond to his speech by stressing the importance of treating all people, including suspects, with respect.
“Managing use of force is one of the most difficult challenges faced by law enforcement agencies,” the group said. “The ability of law enforcement officers to enforce the law, protect the public, and guard their own safety, the safety of innocent bystanders, and even those suspected or apprehended for criminal activity is very challenging.”
Trump’s comments were made in a dark, foreboding address largely focusing on the transnational gang MS-13. He also peppered his comments with expressions of support for police, echoing his efforts both during and since the presidential campaign to portray himself as a champion of law enforcement. “Don’t be too nice,” said Trump.
The president urged Congress to find money to pay for 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers “so that we can eliminate MS-13.”
Trump said the administration is removing these gang members from the United States “but we’d like to get them out a lot faster and when you see ... these thugs being thrown into the back of the paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ ”