Trump addresses police.
The president made the comments during a dark, foreboding address that focused on transnational gang MS-13
In a speech at Long Island on Friday, the president gave some advice about how to treat “thugs” — remarks that drew applause from some officers but rebuke from their superiors in the department.
During a speech in Long Island on Friday, President Donald Trump took a break from discussing gang violence and illegal immigration to give the law enforcement 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 office 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 and described “these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, met with applause from at least some of the law enforcement 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 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.
Trump’s remarks also drew rebuke from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In a statement, the group appeared to respond to his speech by stressing the importance of treating all people, including suspects, with respect.
Trump’s comments were made during 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.
With his comments Friday, Trump appeared to encouraged police officers not to worry about using excessive force during arrests.
Officers can be arrested and charged with excessive force, facing charges on both a local and federal level. Several Suffolk County police officers were indicted last year and accused of beating a suspect after he was arrested in 2012.
The Justice Department said its investigations of unconstitutional behavior by law enforcement officers most frequently involve allegations of excessive force.
Excessive force lawsuits can also be costly for local governments.
Denver paid nearly $28 million to settle legal claims involving the Denver police and sheriff’s departments, according to an April review by The Denver Post of data provided by the Denver city attorney’s office. Claims involving civil rights, use of force and other justice issues accounted for the bulk of the money.