Trump's 'law-and-order' pose undermines law and order
So President Donald Trump was just joking when he suggested police officers should play basketball with the heads of suspects against the doorways of police cars? That's what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she believed on Monday. The tragedy is that she's right.
One of the many things that we have learned about the nation's self-described "law and order president" is his mammoth appetite for laughter and applause. As a result, he has become the first president in recent memory to have not just one but two speeches repudiated by his host organizations in the same week.
First the Boy Scouts distanced themselves from the starkly political and noticeably bawdy monologue he delivered to thousands of young men and boys at their national jamboree.
Three days later, police officials were doing the same to his advice on policing.
When arresting "these thugs," Trump said Friday to law enforcement officers on Long Island, "please don't be too nice."
Hesitant laughter at that remark turned to applause as Trump continued: "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've just killed somebody, don't hit their head. I said, 'You can take the hand away, OK?' "
Oh? Is the president of the United States giving a green light to police officers who want to bang suspects around before they've been formally charged?
"I believe he was making a joke at the time," said Sanders as if she was delivering an autopsy report.
The Suffolk County Police Department was not amused. In an official statement, the department pointed out that it "will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners" and that violations are taken "extremely seriously."
That was comforting to hear, since the biggest complaints against the Suffolk County department have not been charges that it was too nice. The department has been under federal oversight by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2013 amid allegations of discrimination against Latinos and immigrants.