WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will keep the focus Wednesday on building trust between police officers and the communities they serve, as the White House acknowledged that the challenge will extend to future presidents.
Obama was meeting Wednesday with police officers at the White House — the second such session this week. This time it will be expanded to include mayors, academics and civil rights activists, including people the administration said were involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’ll share solutions from communities that have already found ways to build trust and reduce disparities,” Obama said on Facebook.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives from eight police organizations Monday before flying the next day to Dallas to lead a memorial for five police officers killed by a suspect who said he wanted to kill whites, particularly white officers. The officers were working at a rally in which protesters gathered to voice complaints about the shooting deaths of two black men by police officers, one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“Going forward, I want to hear ideas from even more Americans about how we can address these challenges together as one nation. That means you,” Obama said.
He is calling on people to submit their stories and ideas to go.wh.gov/VDPvKz.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he was confident that there will be law enforcement officers in the room who are deeply troubled by the actions and comments of some people who associate themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement. But he reiterated that Obama has cautioned against judging any one group by the actions of some members.
“Resisting that impulse and keeping open our hearts will be necessary to make some progress on this challenge,” Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
Biden told CNN after Monday’s meeting that a couple of the police groups at the meeting voiced some displeasure with the president while others told him he was “doing it just right” with his comments. Biden did not offer detail about the complaints, but said Obama stressed how he has repeatedly voiced support for law enforcement and offered to send critics a list of when he has done so.
Biden said Obama asked the police officials at the meeting: “Fellas, what do you think I’m not doing? What have you not heard me say?”
Biden also said some of the police organizations voiced concerns for the safety of their members. “It’s the first time I’ve ever heard police organizations say, ‘My guys are frightened,'” Biden said.