Trump’s Remarks To Police Violate His Oath of Office
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Speaking in New York Friday, President Trump encouraged our nation’s police officers to rough up suspects in their custody. In the days since, many law enforcement leaders and groups have denounced Trump’s comments as damaging to police-community relations. Some have responded by publicly reaffirming their commitment to serve and protect the public, but what about the president's own oath?
"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’," Trump told the audience of officers, referring to the practice of shielding suspects’ heads when placing them in police vehicles. "Like, don't hit their head and they've just killed somebody. I said, 'You can take the hand away, okay?'"
President Trump’s remarks encouraged officers to violate the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which grant individuals the right to be free from excessive force while in official custody. They also require police officers to protect those under arrest from unnecessary harm. As the Supreme Court once put it, “when the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well-being.” And since federal law makes it a crime to willfully depriving a person of a constitutional right, he asked them to violate federal criminal law as well.