During a speech he gave at Suffolk County Community College in NY, on Friday, the President made comments implying that he was in support of unnecessary police force.
Trump 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 can take the hand away, OK?'" continued the President.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, said of Trump's comments, "It just - it's the wrong message". Ultimately, the criminal case ended with no convictions for any of the six officers involved in Gray's 2015 arrest.
"Trump just told police officers that they can be more violent than they already are. And we're not gonna do it, because of you", he told the law enforcement in the audience. "We're changing those laws". The president said his administration will dismantle, decimate and eradicate the gang.
The police department in Gainesville, Fla., also felt compelled to chide the president for the remarks. I said, 'Please, don't be too nice.' " It was bad enough that the Suffolk County Police Department released a statement Friday afternoon to emphasize its "strict rules and procedures" relating to the handling of prisoners and saying that "we do not and will not tolerate 'rough (ing)' up prisoners".
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The deaths began to get attention after best friends Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, both students at Brentwood High School, were beaten and hacked to death in September by a carload of gang members who spotted them walking down the street.
"Police can not treat every community like an invading army, and encouraging violence by police is irresponsible and reprehensible", he said.
The Suffolk County Police Department issued the following statement via Twitter in response to Trump's comments.
Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under former President Barack Obama, said Trump's remarks were "unconscionable" and undermined the positive efforts of local law enforcement to build up community trust.
All but a few of those charged in the deaths were citizens of El Salvador or Honduras who entered the USA illegally, according to law enforcement officials.