The US Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) acting director has criticised President Donald Trump for telling law enforcement officers not to be "too nice" to suspects.
Acting Director Chuck Rosenberg sent an agency-wide email on Sunday (NZT) , one day after Trump's speech to officers on Long Island.
In it, he urged DEA agents to show "respect and compassion", and said he felt compelled to speak out when "something is wrong".
Mr Trump suggested to officers that, as part of a tougher approach to suspects, they do away with practices like protecting the head of a suspect being put into a patrol car.
That suggestion drew criticism from many local law enforcement agencies, as well as Mr Rosenberg.
"The President, in remarks delivered yesterday in New York, condoned police misconduct regarding the treatment of individuals placed under arrest by law enforcement," he said.
Mr Rosenberg, who was not nominated by Mr Trump but is a holdover from the Obama administration, was the first head of a federal agency to challenge Mr Trump's remarks in a wide arena.
Incidents of police brutality and law enforcement killings of black suspects have sparked mass protests nationwide, and led many departments to purchase body cameras to record interactions between officers and the public.
Mr Trump campaigned on a pro-law enforcement platform, winning the support of several police unions by promising to be tough on crime and more supportive of police than his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama.
Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police union, said Mr Trump's "off the cuff comments" are taken "too literally" by news media.