CNN law enforcement analyst says Trump encouraging police brutality is not “that big a deal”

Harry Houck: I and the police officers “took it all as a joke”

From the July 31 edition of CNN's New Day:

Video file

JOHN BERMAN (HOST): Commissioner, I want to start with you and I want to read you a statement from the current New York City police commissioner, James O'Neill, who said, “To suggest that police officers apply any standard of the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public.” Your response, commissioner? 

CHARLES RAMSEY: Well I would agree with Commissioner O'Neill. I was very concerned when I first heard those remarks because I believe it reinforces a very negative stereotype of police that we've been trying to overcome, and that is that police use excessive force on a regular basis, we violate people's constitutional rights, and nothing can be further from the truth. Police are out there every single day operating in a very professional manner, taking some very dangerous people off the streets and doing so without using excessive force or violating people's rights. And I think that gave an impression that we just do not need. 

BERMAN: Harry Houck, did it send the wrong message? 

HARRY HOUCK: Well, I sat here and I watched it, and what's really key here is, when he made that comment, you heard everybody laugh in the audience, alright? They took it all as a joke, and so did I. I didn't think he was serious. I don't think any police officer out there in the right frame of mind would take that as any -- a way of condoning that kind of activity, alright? So I don't think it's really that big a deal. I think it was just playing to the police officers, trying to get a laugh there. He's a very pro-police officer. And we're very happy we finally have a president like that. 


RAMSEY: Well first of all, I agree with the last statement that he just made. But, I mean, this is the president of the United States. He's commander-in-chief, not a stand-up comic. Words matter. And there's responsibility that goes along with leadership. Your words can actually influence behavior. It can shape public opinion. And you have to be very, very careful and measure your words very carefully whenever you're in a setting like that. So I -- whether it was a joke or not, it was inappropriate. I think those officers -- I don't know if they were just star struck because they're standing behind a president, which doesn't happen every day, and he made a comment and they thought they needed to laugh or applaud, I don't know. But if they truly believe that, then they ought to be ashamed because that's not what policing's all about. 


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