Published Aug. 1, 2017: When President Donald Trump suggested police officers should let suspects’ heads bang against the doors of their police cars during arrests, he was just joking, or at least that’s what White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
“I believe he was making a joke at the time,” Huckabee Sanders told reporters during an on-camera press briefing Monday.
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
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During a speech last week in front of law enforcement in Long Island discussing cracking down on the MS-13 street gang, Trump appeared to encourage police violence against suspects and offenders, telling officers they shouldn’t worry about their heads hitting the police car doors during an arrest.
“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?" Trump said. "Don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head ... I said, you can take the hand away, okay?” Trump continued.
Trump’s comments were widely and immediately condemned by police departments and organizations across the country.
Originally Published July 31, 2017: Last Friday, President Trump gave a speech before a police group in Long Island, in which he exhorted police to treat suspects roughly. Over the weekend, police departments condemned the speech, and numerous facts within it were debunked.
During his speech, Trump said, “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?'”
The Suffolk County Police Department, which is part of the jurisdiction in which Trump delivered his speech, condemned the remarks.
“As a department, we do not and will not tolerate ‘rough(ing)’ up prisoners,” said the department in a statement to CNN. Similarly, New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in a statement 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.”
The Los Angeles Police Department sharply criticized the speech: “What the president recommended would be out of policy in the Los Angeles Police Department,” said a civilian police commissioner. The nonprofit Police Foundation said in a statement, “We cannot support any commentary — in sincerity or jest — that undermines the trust that our communities place in us to protect and serve."
Additionally, the website PolitiFact said that several of Trump's claims during the speech were untrue. They included: Claiming that President Barack Obama did not limit immigrants from Central America; that America has trade deficits “with almost every country,” that he had always said the Affordable Care Act should be allowed to implode; and that Hillary Clinton wanted to take Americans’ guns away.
This wasn't the only Trump speech last week which was walked back by the organization that invited him. When Trump spoke at the National Boy Scout Jamboree, he swore, goaded the crowd into booing former President Obama and stumped for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, threatening to fire Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price.
The Boy Scouts have apologized for Trump's "political rhetoric."