President Obama Pens Open Letter To America’s Law Enforcement Community

As the nation continues to reel from the recent deadly shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, President Obama reached out Monday to the law enforcement community seeking to assure them that his administration stood by them.

“Every day, you accept this responsibility and you see your colleagues do their difficult, dangerous jobs with equal valor,” Mr. Obama wrote in his letter, posted to the White House website Tuesday. “I want you to know that the American people see it, too. We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you. And just as your tight-knit law enforcement family feels the recent losses to your core, our Nation grieves alongside you. Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us.”

The president addressed some of the divisive rhetoric surrounding Black Lives Matter demonstrators, police violence against African Americans, and used the moment once again to urge for a unified front.

“Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve,” he wrote. “I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our Nation.”

Mr. Obama offered the actions of one African American officer who was killed in Baton Rouge this week as an example.

“Officer Jackson knew this,” he said, “when just days ago he asked us to keep hatred from our hearts. Instead, he offered–to protestors and fellow police officers alike–a hug to anyone who saw him on the street. He offered himself as a fellow worshipper to anyone who sought to pray.”

Of law enforcement officers, the president said he recognized that “we can no longer ask you to solve issues we refuse to address as a society.”

“We should give you the resources you need to do your job, including our full-throated support,” he said. “We must give you the tools you need to build and strengthen the bonds of trust with those you serve, and our best efforts to address the underlying challenges that contribute to crime and unrest.”

“Thank you for your courageous service,” the president concluded. “We have your backs.”

The National Fraternal Order of Police shared the letter with its Facebook followers, echoing the call for politicians to support law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“The reason this letter has value is that we want and deserve to change the National Dialogue,” they said in the social media post.

“We can and do provide the best quality law enforcement that we can but we cannot be held responsible for the social issues such as poverty, lack of mental health services, unemployment, and abject poverty,” the police association post continued. “The work now is to assist our communities by continuing to recognize that we are but one spoke in the wheel and we will do our part. Now it’s time for politicians and government to assist us in working in the communities we have always worked in to make life better for all Americans.”

The letter comes after a week when the president gathered law enforcement officials, community activists, and academics in Washington, D.C. to address the racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

In the days following that summit, the president praised the frank conversations about race as the first steps towards solving the problem.

“We have to be able to talk about these things, honestly and openly, not just in the comfort of our own circles, but with folks who look differently and think differently than we do,” he said. “Otherwise, we’ll never break this dangerous cycle.”

From CBS News

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