President Obama saluted fallen police officers as heroes and called for renewed efforts to support law enforcement, emphasizing the perils and challenges faced by the police as national attention is focused on the tensions between them and African-American communities, the New York Times reports. “We cannot erase every darkness or danger from the duty that you've chosen,” Obama said on Friday in a memorial ceremony at the foot of the Capitol, speaking to thousands of law enforcement officers and family members of those killed in the line of duty. “We can offer you the support that you need to be safer. We can make the communities you care about and protect safer as well.”
The president has spoken in recent weeks on issues of race, poverty and lack of opportunity that feed hostility between the police and many black communities. The subject captured public attention last year with the killings of unarmed black men by police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City’s Staten Island, prompting Obama to create a presidential task force on the issue. It came to the fore again last month with the death in Baltimore of Freddie Gray, a young black man who suffered fatal injuries while in police custody. On Monday, the president will travel to Camden, N.J., to highlight how county police officers there have worked to forge better relations with residents in that city, which is among the nation's poorest. The Obama administration has designated Camden as a “Promise Zone,”making it eligible for an array of federal grants.