Po­lice crit­i­cize Trump for urg­ing of­fi­cers not to be ‘too nice’

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­mo­ni­tion that po­lice should not be “too nice” while transporting sus­pects drew laugh­ter and cheers from a crowd of of­fi­cers last week, but po­lice of­fi­cials swiftly made it clear they did not find the words funny.

From New York to Los An­ge­les, law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties crit­i­cized the pres­i­dent’s re­marks. Ex­perts wor­ried that his words could en­cour­age the in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of force. A de­fense lawyer even sig­naled that he might use video of the speech in court.

The crit­i­cism on­line started shortly af­ter Trump’s com­ments, which came at an event in Brent­wood, New York, which was in­tended to sup­port po­lice in their fight against La Mara Sal­va­trucha, or MS-13, a gang that has been ac­cused of sev­eral killings on Long Is­land.

Af­ter call­ing for more im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers to help ar­rest the gang mem­bers, Trump told of­fi­cers, “Please don’t be too nice.”

“Like when you guys put some­body in the car, and you’re pro­tect­ing their head, you know, the way you put your hand over” the head, he said, putting his hand above his head for em­pha­sis. “‘I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’”

The pres­i­dent’s re­mark was de­nounced by po­lice of­fi­cials and or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, the Po­lice Foun­da­tion and Steve Sobo­roff, one of the civil­ian com­mis­sion­ers who over­sees the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment.

“What the pres­i­dent rec­om­mended would be out of pol­icy in the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment,” Sobo­roff told the Los An­ge­les Times. “It’s not what polic­ing is about to­day.”

The Suf­folk County Po­lice Depart­ment, in New York, which had of­fi­cers at the speech, re­sponded within two hours.

“As a depart­ment, we do not and will not tol­er­ate rough­ing up of pris­on­ers,” it said on Twit­ter. The depart­ment “has strict rules & pro­ce­dures re­lat­ing to the han­dling of pris­on­ers,” the post said. “Vi­o­la­tions of those rules are treated ex­tremely se­ri­ously.”

The White House did not re­turn mes­sages seek­ing com­ment Sat­ur­day. Some sup­port­ers ral­lied to Trump’s de­fense, in­clud­ing the po­lice group Blue Lives Mat­ter, which said on Twit­ter that the re­mark was ob­vi­ously a joke.

A com­ment that gar­nered one of the big­gest re­ac­tions came on Twit­ter af­ter Ben To­bias, a spokesman for the po­lice depart­ment in Gainesville, Fla., wrote that he dis­agreed with the pres­i­dent’s re­marks and that those who “cheered should be ashamed.”

By Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon, his tweet had been liked nearly 230,000 times.

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