When Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore after last month’s anti-police riots, she made a point of meeting with a dozen officers about to patrol the still-tense city. “You have picked a noble profession,” she told the officers, including one who had been injured in the rioting. “Despite how people may want to portray it, you [should] hold on to that every day.” Nine months earlier, when then-AG Eric Holder traveled to Ferguson, Mo., under similar circumstances, he did not meet with rank-and-file police. Instead he talked about how he had been profiled by police as a young man in Washington, D.C., says the Los Angeles Times. Lynch, a former U.S. attorney from Brooklyn, N.Y., appears to be working hard to distinguish herself from her former boss in the eyes of law enforcement.
Her ability to straddle the chasm between police and minority communities may be crucial as she decides whether to prosecute police officers in New York, South Carolina and Baltimore, and reacts to the string of police shootings of young black men. As she seeks to correct such problems, Lynch also must win the trust and respect of the law enforcement community she now leads. “I thought her comments [in Baltimore] were very genuine and showed a deep concern for [the officers’] safety,” said Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. Canterbury welcomed Lynch’s efforts. “I think at this point the change was needed,” he said. “There was a disconnect between Atty. Gen. Holder and the law enforcement community.” Former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, “I think there was a sense that there was politicization of the position in recent years, and that’s what sort of riled some people in the law enforcement community.”