DEA chief crit­i­cal of Trump re­marks

Act­ing DEA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Chuck Rosen­berg wrote that he felt ob­li­gated to re­spond to the pres­i­dent’s com­ments “be­cause we have an obli­ga­tion to speak out when some­thing is wrong.” He cited the agency’s core val­ues — among them in­tegrity, ac­count­abil­ity, re

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON — The head of the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion said in an email to staff mem­bers over the week­end that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had “con­doned po­lice mis­con­duct” in re­mark­ing to of­fi­cers in New York that they need not pro­tect sus­pects’ heads when load­ing them into po­lice ve­hi­cles.

Act­ing DEA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Chuck Rosen­berg wrote that he felt ob­li­gated to re­spond to the pres­i­dent’s com­ments “be­cause we have an obli­ga­tion to speak out when some­thing is wrong.” He cited the agency’s core val­ues — among them in­tegrity, ac­count­abil­ity, re­spect and com­pas­sion.

“This is how we con­duct our­selves. This is how we treat those whom we en­counter in our work: Vic­tims, wit­nesses, sub­jects, and de­fen­dants. This is who we are,” Rosen­berg wrote.

The email, sent Satur­day, was first re­ported by the Wall Street Jour­nal. The Wash­ing­ton Post also ob­tained a copy.

A White House spokesman did not im­me­di­ately re­turn an email seek­ing com­ment on Rosen­berg’s email. The White House said Mon­day that Trump was jok­ing when he told law en­force­ment of­fi­cers in New York last week that they should not “be too nice” with sus­pects.

“Like 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 be­fore mim­ing the 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. I said, you can take the hand away, OK?”

Rosen­berg wrote that his email was not meant to ad­vance any “po­lit­i­cal, par­ti­san, or per­sonal agenda,” and he said he did not be­lieve a DEA agent would mis­treat a de­fen­dant. But he made clear in the first line that his re­marks were di­rected at Trump. While Trump’s com­ments have been widely crit­i­cized by polic­ing lead­ers, Rosen­berg’s mes­sage marks the first push­back from a fed­eral law en­force­ment agency.

“The Pres­i­dent, in re­marks de­liv­ered yes­ter­day in New York, con­doned po­lice mis­con­duct re­gard­ing the treat­ment of in­di­vid­u­als placed un­der ar­rest by law en­force­ment,” Rosen­berg wrote Satur­day.

Rosen­berg is not a Trump ap­pointee, though he heads an agency that is play­ing an im­por­tant role in the pres­i­dent’s promised crack­down on drugs and vi­o­lent crime. He was ap­pointed to head the DEA in 2015, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, in an act­ing ca­pac­ity, and was held over dur­ing the tran­si­tion. Be­fore join­ing the DEA, he had served as chief of staff and se­nior coun­selor to James Comey, who was the FBI di­rec­tor un­til Trump fired him ear­lier this year.

Trump’s re­marks at Suf­folk County Com­mu­nity Col­lege on Long Is­land were met with laugh­ter and ap­plause from at least some of the of­fi­cers at his speech Fri­day. But al­most im­me­di­ately, de­part­ments and law en­force­ment of­fi­cials be­gan to crit­i­cize his com­ments, say­ing they were dan­ger­ous at a time of intense dis­trust be­tween com­mu­ni­ties and po­lice.

Black po­lice of­fi­cers are among those wor­ried about ef­forts to re­pair the fraught re­la­tion­ship be­tween po­lice and mi­nor­ity groups. At­tor­ney General Jeff Ses­sions ad­dressed their con­cerns dur­ing a speech to a ma­jor black law en­force­ment group on Tues­day.

Ses­sions did not di­rectly men­tion the pres­i­dent’s com­ments in his re­marks to the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Black Law En­force­ment Ex­ec­u­tives, but he said po­lice of­fi­cers need the sup­port of the com­mu­nity as they do a dan­ger­ous job.

“You de­serve the sup­port and re­spect of ev­ery Amer­i­can, and I’m here to­day on be­half of Pres­i­dent Trump and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice to say, ‘Thank you.’ I am proud to stand with you. The Depart­ment of Jus­tice is proud to stand with you,” Ses­sions said, draw­ing ap­plause.

Seat­tle As­sis­tant Po­lice Chief Perry Tar­rant, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pres­i­dent, told re­porters that Ses­sions also spoke pri­vately with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s lead­er­ship. Ses­sions didn’t apol­o­gize for the pres­i­dent’s com­ment and said he be­lieves it was made in jest, but said he un­der­stands the ef­fect such com­ments can have and un­der­scored the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing ev­ery­one’s civil rights, Tar­rant said.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Matt Zapotosky and Mark Ber­man of The Wash­ing­ton Post; and by Lisa Marie Pane, Kate Brumback, Sadie Gurman and Eric Tucker of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.