Police leaders across America are criticising recent comments made by Donald Trump that appeared to encourage police brutality.
"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 said during a speech to New York cops on Friday. "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?'"
Police chiefs and leaders are already facing criticism and distrust due to the multiple shootings of unarmed civilians, specifically black men and women. Many made a swift effort to distance themselves from Trump's inflammatory rhetoric.
"It’s the wrong message," Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told Washington radio station WTOP. "The last thing we need is a green light from the President of the United States for officers to use unnecessary force."
Following Trump's speech, the International Association of Chiefs of Police published a blog post that detailed its use-of-force policies and training. The post emphasised that officers are trained to treat all individuals "with dignity and respect."
Police chiefs, leaders, and officers across the country took the social media to state that Trump's comments aren't a reflection of their own views.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told ThePatch.com that moving forward and rebuilding trust between police and the community is crucial.
"Seattle’s police officers have embraced reform and have worked incredibly hard to build community trust. We do not intend to go backwards," O'Toole stated. "It is truly unfortunate that in today’s toxic environment, politicians at both ends of the spectrum have sought to inflame passions by politicising what we do. We remain committed to our principles and reject irresponsible statements that threaten to undermine our relationship with the community."
New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill told CNN that 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."
Meanwhile, the group Blue Lives Matter was quick to jump to Trump's defense by describing his comments as "a joke."