HONOLULU (AP) — President Barack Obama offered full support and federal assistance on Sunday to the New York Police Department in the wake of the killing of two officers the day before.
Obama called New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to offer condolences from Hawaii, where the president is vacationing, the White House said. He also spoke to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who is co-chairing a task force on 21st Century policing that Obama established in the wake of the shooting death of an unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
In his call with the New York police chief, Obama said Americans must reject violence and instead turn to prayer and sympathy for the victims' relatives, said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. He says the administration will work with leaders across the country to echo that message.
The president asked Ramsey, who has been outspoken in his concern over the shooting of the two officers in New York, to use the recently established task force to address the issue of violence against police and find ways to engage police officers across the U.S. "The president reiterated his profound respect and gratitude for all law enforcement officers who serve and protect our communities, risking their own safety for ours every day," Schultz said.
Obama launched the task force at the White House in early December as protests raged in Ferguson and around the country over the perceived overuse of force by police against African Americans. At the time, Obama said he wanted to ensure the U.S. isn't building a "militarized culture" within police departments. He directed the task force to examine ways to build trust between police and communities, and to consider potential changes such as the use of body cameras by police to record their activities on the job.