Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson did not go as far as some law enforcement officials, who are distancing themselves and their departments from President Donald Trump’s comments Friday on police use of force. But he did make his position clear Sunday on Twitter.
Retweets, as so many Twitter users warn in their profiles, do not necessarily convey endorsements, but Johnson lent his voice to the national conversation Sunday. It came two days after Trump advocated for dealing with suspects roughly in a speech to law enforcement officers on Long Island, N.Y.
While quoting a tweet condemning Trump’s language from Darrel Stephens, the executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Johnson added, “We will stand for the protection of the civil rights for ALL persons.”
Trump’s comments Friday seemed to encourage law enforcement officers to infringe upon the civil rights of suspects in police custody. Swift and public denunciations came as departments are under intense pressure to stamp out excessive force.
“Please don’t be too nice. Like, 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 while miming the physical motion of an officer covering a suspect’s head to keep it from bumping against the top of the squad car.
“Like, don’t hit their head, and they just killed somebody — don’t hit their head,” Trump continued. “I said, you can take the hand away, OK?”
Trump’s remarks came after he spoke about towns ravaged by gang violence, and his push for funding for 10,000 additional Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers.
Major Cities Chiefs Association president Tom Manger’s statement in response said Trump’s remarks made police chiefs’ jobs harder.
“I was appalled when I heard the President of the United States condone injuring an individual in police custody,” Manger continued in that statement. “This violates our Constitution, our department policy and the public trust.”
The International Association of Chiefs of Police also issued a statement following the president’s speech.
“Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect or defendant, with dignity and respect,” the statement reads. “This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy.”