A former Philadelphia police commissioner is lashing back at comments from President Trump that seemed to encourage officers to use excessive force during arrests, saying the remarks reinforce a “negative stereotype of police that we’ve been trying to overcome.”
Charles Ramsey denounced Trump’s remarks Monday morning in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” and expressed concern over how they might affect public perception of law enforcement in a time when trust in police has dipped.
At a Friday speech addressing law enforcement, the president vowed to crack down on the gang MS-13 and told cops in attendance they don’t have to be “too nice” when dealing with suspected gang members.
“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice,’” Trump said.
“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head. You know, the way you put their hand over,” he continued, raising his hand over his head. “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 White House said Monday that Trump was joking.
Ramsey said the picture painted of officers could not “be further from the truth.”
“I was very concerned when I first heard those remarks because I believe it reinforces a very negative stereotype of police that we’ve been trying to overcome, and that is that police use excessive force on a regular basis, we violate people’s constitutional rights, and nothing could be further from the truth,” Ramsey said.
“I think that gave an impression that we just do not need,” he added.
When retired NYPD detective Harry Houck, another guest on the program, suggested Trump was joking, Ramsey passionately rejected that defense.
This is the president of the United States, he’s commander in chief, not a standup comic,” he spat back. “Words matter, and there’s responsibility that goes along with leadership.”
After Trump’s speech, a number of police departments and law enforcement organizations issued statements seeking to distance themselves from his comments. The Suffolk Country Police Department, which presides over the Long Island suburb where Trump delivered his remarks and had a number of officers in attendance Friday, said it “will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners.”
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