In his address yesterday to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago, President Obama, seeking to bridge divides between police and minority communities, said police are “scapegoated,” but complaints from African Americans and Latinos are “understandable” because “law enforcement isn't always applied fairly,” the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “For generations, we've had African-American and Latino communities who have pointed to racial disparities in the application of criminal justice, from arrest rates to sentencing to incarceration rates. And all too often these concerns, no matter how well documented, have been brushed aside. And we can't have a situation in which a big chunk of the population feels like maybe the system isn't working as well for them,” Obama said.
“At the same time, too often law enforcement gets scapegoated for the broader failures of our society and our criminal justice system,” he told the police chiefs. “And I know you do your jobs with distinction no matter the challenges you face.” The difficult issue of policing and addressing long standing complaints within minority communities is made harder than it has to be, Obama said, blaming cable news and the instant nature of social media. “I reject any narrative that seeks to divide police and communities that they serve,” Obama said. “I reject a storyline that says when it comes to public safety there's an 'us' and a 'them' –- 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. I know that's shocking that political candidates do that. Because your work and your service really has helped make America safer than it's been in decades, and that's something for which every American should be proud.”