(WASHINGTON) — The growing divide between law enforcement and the communities they serve is “the issue of the day facing our nation,” and Americans must simultaneously recognize “the pain of law enforcement who feel themselves under attack” and the pain of those “who feel that they do not have an opportunity to fully participate in this great democracy,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch told a House panel Tuesday.
“All of that must be recognized,” she implored. “By recognizing our common humanity, our common loss and our common goals, we can in fact work on this difficult problem.”
Her comments came on the heels of a tense week that saw five police officers fatally targeted in Dallas after the deaths of two black men at the hands of law enforcement in Minnesota and Louisiana, which sparked largely peaceful protests across the country.
“It is my hope that as we all look at these tragic incidents, that we will take the opportunity to draw closer to each other to have the difficult conversations about race and policing,” Lynch said.
Testifying to the House Judiciary Committee, she cited recent trips to U.S. cities where police forces have had “extremely troubled relationships” with the communities they serve but are actively working to “pull themselves back from the brink” and develop positive relationships.
“It can be done. I have seen it done,” she insisted, noting that Dallas has been a shining example a of department that “crafted a strong bond with its community” through “community policing.”
She said “the key to many of the problems” is “communication and truly listening to one another.”
“So that when there is tension there is an outlet, there is a way for discussion,” she said. “Listening to individuals who feel, for whatever reason, separated and at a distance from the goals of this great country … as well as listening to our brave members of law enforcement, who talk to me every day with great poignancy about why they joined this wonderful profession.
“Their desire to protect, to serve, to put young people on the right path, to build a better country, and to in fact build strong communities because they live in those communities,” Lynch added.
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