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Is Trump's Suggestion of "Roughing Up" Suspects Good for Communities?

President Trump veered off in a speech Friday about the criminal gang MS-13 to tell police not to be "too nice" with suspects. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
President Trump veered off in a speech Friday about the criminal gang MS-13 to tell police not to be "too nice" with suspects. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
July 31, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Communities and police departments in Oregon and across the nation are responding to President Trump's comments to police on Friday that they shouldn't be "too nice" with suspects.

His comments come at a time when tensions are running high between law enforcement and the public. Sarah Armstrong, communications director for the ACLU of Oregon, said that's especially true for people of color who already are arrested and incarcerated at higher rates.

She said Trump's comments could deepen mistrust between communities and the police.

"Every community deserves safe and effective policing, and that really has to be built on trust,” Armstrong said. "What the president's doing by pitting officers against communities is really scary, and the country is weary of the type of policing that the president is espousing."

Police departments across the country have responded to Trump's comments, saying they won't rough up suspects. On Saturday, Portland Police tweeted that officers "are expected to treat everyone with respect, even if they are a suspect.”

Trump's comments came during a speech on dismantling the criminal gang known as MS-13 to law enforcement in Long Island.

Armstrong said the president also is striking at one of the founding tenets of the United States’ criminal justice system.

"We can all agree that police officers have a tough job, but the president took it too far when he encouraged violence against any person who is picked up by the police,” she said. "'Innocent until proven guilty' is one of the core freedoms that our country is founded on.”

Defenders of the president's comments say he was only joking.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR