One day after President Donald Trump drew cheers and applause from a crowd of police officers by urging them not to be "too nice" to suspected criminals, the commissioner of the New York Police Department denounced Trump's comments as sending "the wrong message".
As he stressed the importance of funding Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts as a way to stop the gang, he took a moment to criticize police officers who he thinks treat suspects too gingerly.
"When you guys put somebody in the vehicle and you're protecting their head", President Trump told a room filled with law enforcement at Suffolk County Community College Friday.
"Like when you guys put somebody in the auto 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?'" he added. Don't hit their head?
"'Don't hit their head.' I said, 'You can take the hand away.' OK?" While it's incredibly unacceptable for any candidate to incite or even imply violence against anyone, it's even more objectionable for those comments to be made by the sitting president of the United States, especially at a time when police brutality (particularly against minorities) is such an enormously distressing problem in America.
Trump's comments about the treatment of people in police custody resurrected memories of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who was shackled but alive when he was put into a Baltimore police van in April 2015. Before becoming mayor, he opposed a proposal to create a civilian board to review police conduct and famously rallied a rowdy demonstration of officers against the idea. A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The Suffolk County Police Department, which sent officers to the speech, tweeted afterwards that it maintains strict regulations around the handling of prisoners.
"The Boston Police Department's priority has been and continues to be building relationships and trust with the community we serve", the department said Saturday in a statement to the Boston Globe.
"Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously", the department wrote.