Crime still low, says Obama, noting intense police scrutiny

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Are cops too often made out to be scapegoats? Obama says yes (+video).

CHICAGO (AP) – Defending police officers who have come under scrutiny like never before, President Barack Obama on Tuesday said the men and women who risk their lives to provide security are wrongly “scapegoated” for failing to deal with broader problems that lead people to commit crimes.President Obama met Tuesday with families of slain police officers while in Chicago to try to persuade law enforcement officials to work more closely with communities they police.Addressing a group of law enforcement leaders from around the country Tuesday, President Obama suggested that police officers don’t deserve the bad rap they sometimes face and that they are too often blamed for social and cultural matters outside their control. Unemployment, poor education, inadequate drug treatment and lax gun laws are not the responsibility of police officers, Obama said in remarks to the International Association of Chief of Police, which held its annual meeting in the president’s Chicago hometown.

But he also met with the families of children who have died in Chicago’s epidemic of violence as he attempts to focus attention on all victims — police and community alike. He blamed the news media’s tendency “to focus on the sensational” for helping to drive a wedge between police officers and a public they take an oath to protect and serve.

While expressing sympathy, Obama also told the more than 14,000 police chiefs and others gathered that more could have been done for victims of violence. “When I meet with these families, I can’t honestly tell them that our country has done everything we could to keep this from happening again, from seeing another officer shot down, from seeing another innocent bystander suffer from a gunshot wound,” Obama said. Obama has met with victims’ families before and has paid tribute in statements and speeches to fallen police officers several times during his presidency. Inadequate gun laws, he says, are one of many factors that have lead American society to mistakenly antagonize cops as the culprit for inequality. “Too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for the broader failures of our society and criminal justice system,” he said. “I know that you do your jobs with distinction no matter the challenges you face.

But his meetings Tuesday with family members of both officers and civilians were designed to emphasize that the tragedies are not limited to either police or community members. That’s part of wearing a badge.” “I reject any narrative that seeks to divide police and the communities that they serve – I reject the story line that says, when it comes to public safety, there’s an ‘us’ and ‘them,’” Obama said.

Some 32 police officers have been shot to death this year, the president said, and at least a dozen children have been shot to death this month in the U.S. Lastly, he spoke about reducing the risks that officers face in the field by introducing the gun safety reforms he’s been asking Congress for since the start of his second term. Just last week, Obama defended the Black Lives Matter movement, explaining that the activists address a real and entirely unique issue faced by black communities. “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter … rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that’s not happening in other communities,” Obama said Thursday at a forum for criminal justice reform. “And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.” While some critics say Obama may be straddling a difficult divergence by defending both cops and Black Lives Matter, the president is not alone in trying to bridge this gap. He said it’s a “narrative that too often gets served up to us by news stations seeking ratings, or tweets seeking retweets, or political candidates seeking some attention.” Obama opened his remarks with a tribute to slain New York City police officer Randolph Holder as hundreds of officers streamed into his wake.

In his tribute, Obama said, ‘Officer Holder didn’t run toward danger because he thought of himself as a hero, he ran toward danger because he was a cop. Jones’s organization is made up of more than 100 police chiefs, prosecutors, and attorneys general from across the country, and together, they aim to reduce incarceration and strengthen ties among police and their communities. He said that while he has no sympathy for violent offenders, America every year wastes billions of dollars that could be better spent to keep non-violent offenders behind bars. Before Obama’s last visit to the city to talk to speak about gun violence, in February of 2013, National Review opinion writer Charles Cooke said it ‘defies belief’ for that reason that Obama would use Chicago as a backdrop for his gun control push.

Following this month’s deadly shooting at an Oregon community college, Obama also used to appearance to push for new steps to reduce gun violence, such as requiring national background checks for every firearms purchase. Obama said, ‘I understand we won’t all agree on this issue’ and there are regional and local differences in gun culture, but ‘fewer gun safety laws don’t mean more freedom.

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