President Trump on Friday joked with police officers in New York about roughing up "thugs," and said he wouldn't mind if police were a little tougher on suspects as they're being arrested.
"When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don't be too nice,'" Trump said before a crowd of law enforcement officers while describing a police officer taking a suspect into custody in the back of a police car.
"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?'" he said to applause.
Trump was in Long Island on Friday to discuss the administration's efforts to fight crime and gang violence, specifically that of violent street gang MS-13.
Trump added that laws are "horrendously stacked" against police, which is something he wants to change.
"For years and years, [laws have] been made to protect the criminal," Trump said. "Totally protect the criminal, not the officers. You do something wrong, you're in more jeopardy than they are. These laws are stacked against you. We're changing those laws."
Trump's comments immediately went viral, and quickly received blowback. Democratic National Committee deputy press secretary Brian Gabriel called Trump's comments "wholly unacceptable and completely beneath the office of the President."
Trump's "irresponsible rhetoric does nothing to help repair the bonds of trust between police forces and the communities they serve," Gabriel said, adding the president should at "no point" suggest law enforcement violate constitutional rights.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police called managing a police force "one of the most difficult challenges" departments face.
"The ability of law enforcement officers to enforce the law, protect the public, and guard their own safety, the safety of innocent bystanders, and even those suspected or apprehended for criminal activity is very challenging," the statement said.
The IACP added treating all individuals "whether they are a complainant, suspect or defendant, with dignity and respect" is a "bedrock principle" behind policing and justice.