Police leaders across the country moved to distance themselves from — or to condemn — President Donald Trump’s statements about “roughing up” people who have been arrested.
The swift public denunciations came as departments are under pressure to stamp out excessive force that can erode the relationship between officers and the people they police.
Some police leaders worried that Trump’s speech saying “don’t be too nice” and they could “take the hand away” when putting suspects in a car could upend nearly three decades of fence-mending since the 1991 Los Angeles Police Department beating of Rodney King ushered in an era of distrust of police.
“It’s the wrong message,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “The last thing we need is a green light from the president of the United States for officers to use unnecessary force.”
Across the country, police department leaders said the president’s words didn’t reflect their views. The Gainesville Police Department tweeted Friday: “The POTUS made remarks today that endorsed and condoned police brutality. GPD rejects these remarks.” Police on Long Island — where Trump made his remarks — e-mailed, “We do not and will not tolerate ‘roughing’ up prisoners.”