Sanders on Trump's comments about handling criminal suspects: "I believe he was making a joke at the time." https://t.co/kORopMMFNt— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 31, 2017
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump was probably joking when he suggested police should not worry about injuring suspects.
Trump made the comments last week while addressing police officials in Long Island, New York.
“When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’” Trump stated. “Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over, like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody, don’t hit their head, I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?’”
The words drew laughter and applause from a number of law enforcement officers in the audience, but Sanders claimed the comment was made in jest.
“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” she told a reporter after he questioned her about Trump’s motives.
Some Trump supporters, including Blue Lives Matter, have defended the president’s statement.
Trump didn't tell police to go out & brutalize people as the media would have you believe. It was a joke. ??https://t.co/yBq6PGY0pa— Blue Lives Matter (@bluelivesmtr) July 28, 2017
However, even as Sanders argued Trump was not being serious, the remarks from Trump prompted a furor of criticism from current and former law enforcement officers, police departments and civil rights groups, who claimed such words are dangerous in light of the current climate of distrust between police officers and the public.
Police officers can face charges for resorting to excessive force and the Department of Justice stated its investigations of police misconduct usually involve use of force.
In just a few short hours, the Suffolk County Police released a statement refuting Trump’s comments and stating it does “not and will not tolerate ‘roughing’ up prisoners.”
The SCPD has strict rules & procedures relating to the handling of prisoners. Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously.— Suffolk County PD (@SCPDHq) July 28, 2017
The International Association of Chiefs of Police also issued a statement relating to use of force by officers.
International Association of Chiefs of Police responds to Trump's remarks about police use of force: pic.twitter.com/FQ05oO7m90— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 28, 2017
“[The president] actively encourages police violence,” said Vanita Gupta, who ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration and now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Amnesty International said Trump’s speech would “only escalate tensions between police and communities.”
Really @SarahHuckabee a joke? it shows ur boss is nothing but a vacuous ignorant man whose bigotry is caught on video once again !— Anne T. (@AT_LV61) August 1, 2017
The White House sends their folks out to lie to America. Trump wasn't joking.. He was serious about having the police abuse those arrested.— Linda Jackson (@Linda_Jaxs) August 1, 2017
Question, should the police protect trump's head when putting him into the police car after his arrest and handcuffing?— GentleCaveman (@gentle_caveman) August 1, 2017
Now the police trump supporters will take this as a directive and begin utilizing additional force! Trump loves his uneducated supporters!— Just a Rancher (@RodneyLeatherb1) August 1, 2017
Let's review what Trump is:— wallflower (@kevindot11) August 1, 2017
-JUST IN: He's a comedian now!!!
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst