Opinion by C J Oakes
Before taking office, the President-Elect of the United States of America swears the following oath,
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
It stands to reason that to “preserve, protect, and defend” anything would require knowing something about it. But President Donald Trump increasingly seems to know less about the U.S. Constitution than a child in kindergarten. His recent comments about the treatment of SUSPECTS to a crime attest to this.
What is So Wrong with President Trump’s Comments on the Treatment of Suspects?
At an event in Brentwood, NY for law enforcement officers, the President said,
“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you see them thrown in rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, OK?'”
“When you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head you know, the way you put their hand over [their head]. 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?'”
I the video, which you can watch here from ABC News, police officers are seen in the background smiling and applauding President Trumps remarks. The President at once disgraces his office and those officers present disgrace upright, respectable police everywhere. Shameful.
What is so wrong with abusing people who have been arrested?
To begin with, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that every citizen has a right to due process. This is in keeping with the tradition that a person is viewed as innocent until convicted. To treat someone as guilty before a trial is to discard that tradition, replacing it with guilty until proven otherwise.
Of course, to some degree that has been the trend in America for the last few decades. This is why the killing of suspects is often dealt with as incidental to protecting the public. This is wrong.
Around the nation, police forces are returning to the tenets established by the father of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel. In establishing the London Metropolitan Police in 1829, he stated that the police are the public and serve at the will of the public. He also told his forces that they were not executioners of the law, but tools of the law which apprehend suspects of crime — the job of executioner is left to the courts and prisons.
In telling police that it is not only acceptable to abuse suspects but preferable, President Donald J. Trump is trampling on the U.S. Constitution, the very document he swore an oath to defend.
I have been largely silent about much of what has come from this presidency, but on this I cannot hold my tongue. The POTUS is setting a foul leadership example and in my opinion, no longer fit to serve. No free nation can permit police to treat SUSPECTS as already convicted. It is not just wrong, it is illegal under our own laws — the U.S. Constitution.
Please have a read, Mr. President.
KUDOS to Law Enforcement Officials Nationwide…Shame on You, Mr. President
ABC News also reported that from around the nation, law enforcement officials and leaders are decrying President Trumps remarks. Many are squarely rejecting his statements and reminding their officers in the field that such behavior will not be tolerated.
My hat is off to all those standing on the side of right, on the side of America.
Thus far, the list of those denouncing President Trumps comments are:
- Suffolk County PD
- Gainesville, Florida PD
- Boston PD
- Philadelphia PD
- Seattle PD
- New Orleans PD
- Houston PD
- Southside, Texas PD
- LA County Sheriff’s Office
- Numerous individual Police Officers nationwide
My hat is off to all who are taking a stand against President Donald Trump on this issue. At a time when law enforcement is getting a bad reputation for being at times overzealous in their approach, the nation needs to heal. We need to restore the idea that police are not some entity separate from the public, but are part of the public. They are our friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, the guy eating with his family in our favorite diner, the fellow who rounds out our foursome on the golf course, the father we chat with at the PTA. The police are us.
To encourage law enforcement to treat those suspected of crime will only lead to further divisions. Which, brings me to one other part of the Constitution which President Trump should read…
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union”
Union…as in United…as in United States. Mr. President, stop dividing the nation. That is what enemies do.