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Trump advocates rough treatment of suspects, but many police departments reject call

Donald Trump’s address to police officers to boost their moral in the fight against illegal immigrant gangs in New York and the other parts of the US has backfired with citizens accusing the Suffolk police of hosting the President for a hate speech,

world Updated: Jul 29, 2017 11:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Donald Trump,Suffolk County,MS-13
President Donald Trump speaks at Suffolk Community College on July 28, 2017 in Brentwood, New York. Trump, speaking close to where the violent street gang MS-13 has committed a number of murders, urged Congress to dedicate more funding to border enforcement and faster deportations. Trump spoke to an audience that included to law enforcement officers and the family members of crime victims. (AFP)

Donald Trump’s advice to police to act tough against illegal immigration and violent crime drew criticism from Twitterati and many police departments did not appear enthusiastic about the president’s call.

On Friday, Trump appeared to advocate rougher treatment of people in police custody. “Don’t be too nice,” Trump told law enforcement officers during a visit to the Suffolk County police headquarters, New York, to highlight his administration’s efforts to crack down on the street gang known as MS-13 which has been accused of a string of heinous gang murders on Long Island.

The president urged Congress to find money to pay for 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers “so that we can eliminate MS-13.”

Trump pushed for faster expulsion of these gang members from the US. “We’d like to get them out a lot faster and when you see ... these thugs being thrown into the back of the paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’”

The President then spoke dismissively of the practice by which arresting officers shield the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are placed in police cars.

“I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’” he said, drawing applause from many in the audience, which included federal and law enforcement personnel from the New York-New Jersey area.

But the Suffolk County Police Department did not seem to subscribe to Trump’s advice.

“Violations of those rules and procedures are treated extremely seriously. As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners,” the department tweeted later.

But the applause of some of its officers at Trump’s comments drew fire from Twitter users.

Despite its damage control exercise, many Twitter users were not willing to buy the Suffolk police’s statement.

Other law enforcement departments as well as officials did not buy Trump’s argument.

Chief Jim Bueermann (Ret.), the police foundation president, said in a statement: “While the President’s support for law enforcement is appreciated by many who have and continue to serve our communities, we cannot support any commentary – in sincerity or jest – that undermines the trust that our communities place in us to protect and serve.”

Suffolk police in focus

Suffolk police had been rapped on the knuckles earlier when its former chief James Burke, was sentenced to nearly four years in prison last November for beating a handcuffed man in an interrogation room.

Since the beginning of 2017, the Department of Homeland Security’s investigative unit has arrested 3,311 gang members nationwide during targeted operations, said Tom Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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. Gray left the vehicle with severe neck injuries, and his subsequent death triggered rioting. Six officers were charged initially, but prosecutors in July 2016 dropped all remaining charges after acquittals and a hung jury.

Gray’s family agreed in September 2015 to a $6.4 million settlement with Baltimore.

(With AP inputs)

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 11:30 IST