The Gainesville Police Department found itself in the spotlight after issuing a message via social media condemning remarks made by President Donald Trump that were characterized as condoning police brutality.
The rebuke was contained in a tweet posted on the department's official account Friday evening. It came after the account shared a tweet by a department spokesman admonishing those who applauded the remarks.
The president's remarks came as he vowed to crack down on the violent street gang MS-13 during a speech before law enforcement officers at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, New York, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper noted he pivoted at one point to discussing how police treat those under arrest.
“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, according to the Post. "Like, don't hit their head, and they just killed somebody -- don't hit their head."
“I said, you can take the hand away, okay?” the president added, a comment that was reportedly met with some applause.
In a tweet, the Gainesville department criticized those comments, stating the remarks "endorsed and condoned police brutality."
That tweet, which was shared more than 47,000 times, joined a chorus of statements from law enforcement that reportedly surfaced in response to the speech.
A post on the department's Facebook page elaborated by saying the president "has no business" green-lighting rough treatment of arrestees and "suggesting that we should slam their heads onto the car while putting them in." It went on to say the remarks "set modern policing back."
Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias said the department chief gave him the authority to respond after Trump’s speech.
“I'm a cop. I do not agree with or condone @POTUS remarks today on police brutality,” Tobias tweeted. “Those that applauded and cheered should be ashamed.”
Several other Florida law enforcement agencies have also released statements about Trump's remarks.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Suffolk County, New York Police Department were among the organizations that issued statements that appeared to put distance between themselves and the remarks, The Hill reported.
"Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether they are a complainant, suspect, or defendant, with dignity and respect. This is the bedrock principle behind the concepts of procedural justice and police legitimacy," the police chiefs association's statement said in part.
Orlando police Chief John Mina, who is a International Association of Chiefs of Police board member, said he stands with the statement the board released.
The Eustis Police Department posted a statement to Facebook Monday morning condemning violence towards citizens.
"EPD will not lose focus by erasing the accomplishments and strides our agency like many others have made to build public trust within our communities. We hope our citizens recognize the hard work and professionalism our police officers have done to earn your trust and respect.
We (Eustis Police) being the professionals that we are, will continue to treat every citizen criminal, or not, with respect and dignity in the performance of our duties no matter the circumstances."