Black law enforcement officers are growing increasingly concerned about their community’s relationship with them in light of President Donald Trump’s recent comments on treating suspects.
Black police officers feel that Trump’s quip about cops not protecting the heads of suspects getting loaded into cars only furthers the divide between minorities and the officers who try to serve them, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
“We live in some of the same communities that are affected by this disparate treatment. We go to church in those neighborhoods. We go to the barbershops. Certain things people don’t realize: It’s really hard being black and being a police officer when these things happen,” said Clarence E. Cox III, the soon to be president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Trump caused outrage during a Long Island speech Friday about MS-13 gangs when he told police officers that they didn’t have to worry about protecting suspects’ heads when officers tried to put them in the car.
“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. “Like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, OK?”
Other black police officers were upset about the comments, saying they don’t reflect how officers should be treating suspects.
“We are professionals. We are not thugs,” said Perry Tarrant, the assistant police chief of the Seattle Police Department. “If there’s any deviation from that, there’s certainly cause for concern and to suggest that we treat people less than nice and it results in any kind of injury, we’re talking about a crime.”
Others compared the relationship between cops and their communities as a marriage being made worse by Trump’s comments.
“This is like a marriage and this marriage is getting rougher and rougher,” Eddie Hawkins, a school officer in Ohio.
Police departments in general expressed concern over the remarks and how they could affect the relationships between officers and the people they serve.
“[Our] priority has been and continues to be building relationships and trust with the community we serve. As a police department we are committed to helping people, not harming them,” the Boston Police Department said.
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