There were mixed reactions from Texas law enforcement officials on Monday to President Trump’s comments seemingly encouraging officers to be rough with suspects.
Trump was speaking Friday about the criminal gang MS-13 to law enforcement on Long Island, New York when he said, “When you guys put someone in the car and you're protecting their head and they put their hand, like don't hit their head and they just killed somebody, don't hit their head. I said you can take the hand away, OK?”
Limestone County Sheriff Dennis Wilson, president of the Texas Sheriffs' Association, said Monday at the group’s conference in Grapevine that the president was just sending a tough message to violent criminals.
"The president of the United States is recognizing we have a criminal issue in Texas and the United States and he is bold enough to step up and take action to address that,” Wilson said.
Kim Vickers, executive director of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement which creates training material for the 76,000 law enforcement in Texas, pushed back on Trump’s words.
"We work very diligently to ensure that all officers are trained to treat people with respect to treat people equally and consistently,” Vickers said.
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan used the sheriff’s conference to sign agreements with 18 counties that allows local law enforcement to act with federal power to question people in jail about immigration status.
Homan was asked if he believes the President's choice of words about getting tough on criminal gangs could be misconstrued.
"Look, ICE is going to enforce the law. We're going to make sure people's civil rights are protected,” Homan said. “I think the president was talking about this is a violent gang one of the most violent gangs in the world and we need to take them out hard."
Estimates put 10,000 MS-13 gang members across the United States, including an undetermined number in Texas.