Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the president of a national black law enforcement organization Tuesday President Trump's comments last week condoning police use of force were "done in jest," according to a report.
Perry Tarrant, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, said at a news conference Tuesday Sessions also warned the president's comments "had the opportunity to impact or detract from" police relations with the communities they serve.
"He understands our position that it absolutely does have an impact, particularly on the folks who we are trying to reach out to and build unified communities," Tarrant said of his conversations with Sessions, according to CNN.
Sessions delivered remarks at NOBLE's annual training conference in Atlanta and said he would hold responsible any law enforcement official who breaks the law.
"Just as I am committed to defending law enforcement who use deadly force while lawfully engaged in their work, I will also hold any officer responsible breaking the law," Sessions said.
Sessions' comments to Tarrant came after Trump delivered a speech Friday about the MS-13 gang on Long Island, during which he seemed to urge law enforcement to be "rough" with suspects.
"When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You just see them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don't be too nice,'" Trump said. "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?"
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday the president was joking, but many law enforcement organizations, including NOBLE, rebuked Trump's comments.
"The president's remarks a few days ago caused us a little bit of concern," Tarrant said. "Whether intentional or unintentional, it was heard about the country by the very communities that we're trying to build relations with, and I believe it had an impact."