The chief of the New Orleans Police Department has denounced comments by President Donald Trump that seemed to endorse aggressive and violent police conduct.
“Improving public safety and reducing crime requires restoring trust with the community,” Michael Harrison, chief of the department, said in a statement on Saturday. “The President’s comments stand in stark contrast to our department’s commitment to constitutional policing and community engagement.”
Harrison continued: “Any unreasonable or unnecessary application of force against any citizen erodes trust at a time when we need support from our local communities the most. This is not a binary choice of either protecting the public or protecting a person’s rights.”
Trump’s comments came during a speech to law-enforcement officers in Brentwood, New York, on Friday. During an unscripted aside, Trump suggested that police shouldn’t be “too nice” with suspects as they put them in the backs of police vehicles.
“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 have just killed somebody,” Trump said. “‘Don’t hit their head.’ I said, ‘you can take the hand away.’ OK?”
The comments drew widespread criticism from police departments across the country, including two of the nation’s largest in New York and Los Angeles.
“What the president recommended would be out of policy in the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Steve Soboroff of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s not what policing is about today.”