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Trump Speech Urging Police to Be Rough on Gang Suspects Triggers Response from Chiefs and Police Associations

July 31, 2017  | 

Speaking to police officers in Suffolk County, NY, Friday about the scourge of MS-13, President Donald Trump said, “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said, 'Please don’t be too nice.'"

Some officers in attendance laughed and cheered at the remark. But the comments have sparked a firestorm of comments from anti-police groups and civil libertarians, and chiefs nationwide have stressed that they do not agree with the remarks and do not condone “rough” treatment of suspects.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the press, "I believe he was making a joke at the time."

Before Sanders' comments White House officials had declined to say if they had a response to multiple police departments criticizing Trump's law-and-order speech in New York, CNN reports.

“There are some things that don’t have much humor, particularly in the environment we have today,” said Darrel Stephens, a former Charlotte police chief and now executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Even if it’s an attempt at humor, it sends the wrong message.”

Since Trump’s speech, law enforcement leaders have been discussing the remarks and have “universally” expressed “disbelief and disappointment” at the comments, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told the Washington Post.

“Words matter,” Acevedo said Monday. “Perception matters. . . . It doesn’t matter if he was joking. The president sets the tone, and when you joke about mistreatment of prisoners, that’s not a laughing matter.”

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,” it said in another post. “Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously,” the New York Times reports.

In a statement on Saturday, the New York police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said the department’s training and policies about the use of force “only allow for measures that are reasonable and necessary under any circumstances, including the arrest and transportation of prisoners.”

“To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public,” he added.

Immediately after the speech, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) issued a statement that read:

Managing use of force is one of the most difficult challenges faced by law enforcement agencies. 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. For these reasons, law enforcement agencies develop policies and procedures, as well as conduct extensive training, to ensure that any use of force is carefully applied and objectively reasonable considering the situation confronted by the officers.

Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect. This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy.

The National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump during the election, issued a statement Monday that defended the president.

Chuck Canterbury, the association’s president, said taken as a whole, Trump’s speech showed the president very strongly supports rank-and-file police officers.

“There isn’t another politician out there today who empathizes more with our members than the president does — and nobody appreciates him more than the 332,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police!” he said.

Trump also vowed in his speech to support law enforcement officers by ensuring his administration makes surplus military equipment available to police, the Washington Times reports.

“You are saving American lives every day and, believe me, we have your backs,” Trump said. “We have your backs 100 percent. Not like the old days. Not like the old days.”

Comments (10)

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10

jim @ 7/31/2017 9:26 PM

The same politically-appointed Chiefs that are criticizing Trump over his remarks are the same ones that support 'sanctuary city status' of criminal illegal aliens. That PC BS line of policing is not working and never has. There is no longer respect for the law or the police and it has made police work much more dangerous. An old cop told me when I was a rookie back in the early '70's: "They might not like me, but they respect me." Let's go back to the 'old days' of LAW ENFORCEMENT. I don't care if I hurt their 'self-esteem' or not.

Capt. Crunch @ 7/31/2017 11:11 PM

Good job Mr.President

AZBIGDOG @ 8/1/2017 6:25 AM

I have to say that it is refreshing to see a President actually say they back the LEO's in the US. As it was said above it is the same old political hacks and liberal chiefs and mayors that are upset over the President telling officers to use whatever force is necessary to effect the arrest and detention of criminals. He did not say use unnecessary force only to rough them up. I take that to mean you don't have to make them tea and crumpets to arrest them and not hurt their feelings. Arrest them and transport them, whether they want to go or not.

Fed Cop 1 @ 8/1/2017 8:08 AM

Come on Chiefs. He was joking for crying out loud. Time for these liberal Chiefs to put their big girl panties on!

GreyBear @ 8/1/2017 9:20 AM

Not necessarily a huge fan of President Trump. but...unless this article is intentionally misleading, or I completely misunderstood it, I believe it said the President was talking about dealing with members of the MS-13, arguably the most ruthless and brutal street gang on American soil in recent history! Just another reason I will never be a member of the IACP, a group who wants to be as PC as possible, and most of which have had their spines politically removed. Sure glad my career is over, because if the attitude that groups like the IACP and their buddies the ACLU keeps taking over, our country is doomed.

BFT @ 8/1/2017 7:35 PM

Hit it right on the head Grey Bear. The last thing we need to do is start treating MS-13 with kid gloves. I'm not saying "beat them up", but I am saying to make it clear who's really in charge, and it's not MS-13. Sending the message that the IACP is sending, is the equivalent of saying "sorry, it won't happen again". Now that's a great message to send MS-13! I'm sure the ACLU has read every one of these messages from the IACP.

Deputy Moose @ 8/4/2017 9:09 AM

TRUMP 2020!

Deputy Moose @ 8/4/2017 9:10 AM

TRUMP 2020!

Skiman94 @ 8/21/2017 7:37 AM

Well said all. This crap is getting crazy. I was telling some of my fellow officers what we're seeing today is the culmination of 30+ years of Tennessee vs. Garner. The crooks know our limits, and they operate touching the line. Sometimes they eek over the line, we respond, and they sneak back under the line and make us look bad.

otj26yrs @ 8/29/2017 7:42 AM

Regardless of where you fall personally on President Trump it is refreshing to at least have an administration that is not hell bent on the persecution of police for doing their job.

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