"Don't be too nice," Trump said after referencing "thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon."
"President Trump is openly and explicitly calling for, to wild applause just moments ago, cops to commit more police brutality," wrote Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng. "America is once again a nation of laws, says Trump, who just told cops to beat the shit out of people they arrest."
Others shared Suebsaeng's reaction and denounced the president's comments as "utterly revolting."
"The NYPD's training and policies relating to the use of force only allow for measures that are reasonable and necessary under any circumstances, including the arrest and transportation of prisoners," commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement.
"To suggest that police officers apply any standard in 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."
Trump had been addressing law enforcement officials in Brentwood, New York, on Friday when he departed from remarks on his administration's efforts to dismantle the street gang MS-13, and began discussing the way officers lead suspects into police vehicles.
"When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough," Trump said. "I said, 'Please don't be too nice.'"
He continued: "Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over. 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?"
Trump's comments come at a significant moment in police-community relations, particularly in New York City. The NYPD is among many departments across the country that has attracted national scrutiny over its use of force against civilians, particularly African-Americans.
O'Neill had declined to send NYPD officials to Trump's Long Island speech, telling reporters that the department was too busy with promotion ceremonies.
The department has had a rocky relationship with the Trump administration, particularly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April called New York City "soft on crime," prompting O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio to publicly rebuke the comment.
But the NYPD was not the only police department to speak out against Trump's Friday remarks encouraging violence against suspects. The Suffolk County Police Department, which sent officers to the speech, tweeted afterwards that it maintains strict regulations around the handling of prisoners.
"Violations of those rules are treated extremely seriously," the department wrote. "As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up of prisoners."
A spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department in Florida also drew widespread praise for his tweet condemning Trump's remarks.
Very likely, were Jesus with us today, he would have been arrested multiple times and probably, depending on which state had jurisdiction, he would have been put to death after being beaten and abused during his arrest.
The person conducting White House bible studies must have a 'different type' of thinking. Anyone with brain cells can see that the teaching of 'Christ' and the operation of the United States government are in totally separate universes. There is absolutely nothing connecting the two.
Perhaps he is there because of the prestige and publicity that accompanies being in the White House.
Capitol Ministries claims to "stay away from politics" on its website, but its stated mission is to "reach public servants for Christ at every stop along their career paths...as they ascend to higher office" in the hopes that "the impact of the Gospel will be increased in every strata of government." CBN reports that Drollinger "founded Capitol Ministries with the idea that if you change the hearts of lawmakers, then their Christian worldview will guide them to make good policies."
Drollinger says the cabinet's Bible study is "likely the first of its kind in almost 100 years."
In an interview with CBN, he praised the cabinet members on their participation in the group, singling out Sessions. "He'll go out the same day I teach him something and I'll see him do it on camera and I just think, 'Wow, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable and they're at Bible study every week they're in town.'"
President Trump does not attend the Bible study himself, but does receive a copy of the scripture lesson every week.