Trump Encourages Cops to Treat Suspects Roughly: “Please Don’t Be Too Nice”

He quickly drew criticism for appearing to promote police brutality.

President Donald Trump pumps his fist after speaking to law enforcement officials on the street gang MS-13, Friday, July 28, 2017, in Brentwood, N.Y. Evan Vucci/Associated Press

In a speech Friday to police officers at a community college on Long Island, President Donald Trump appeared to encourage them to treat suspects roughly and not to take steps to protect them from injury. “And 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,” he said. “I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head—the way you put the 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, okay?'”

The moment came as Trump addressed the officers about federal law enforcement efforts to combat MS-13, the gang with ties to Central America that administration officials regularly invoke in making their case for a stronger law-and-order regime and tougher immigration policy. Long Island has seen a number of high-profile murders in recent months committed by members of the gang. Trump issued an executive order in February creating a task force on violent crime that will make recommendations to his administration about how to combat such organizations.

Trump’s speech immediately drew criticism on Twitter for appearing to encourage police brutality: