President Obama addressed the need for criminal justice reform in Chicago Tuesday afternoon in front of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Having grown up in a Chicago neighborhood near where shootings happen, the president said he knows all too well the effect rampant crime can have on a community.
Obama first praised the police for their heroic work and he encouraged cooperation to make sure the work they are doing is “appreciated.” He also noted that violent crime has been reduced as a whole and he wants to make sure we maintain that progress.
On that note, however, the president said police and community relations are nowhere near where they should be.
Obama’s appearance comes on the same day video surfaced of a white deputy lifting a young African-American woman from her desk to the ground in a classroom in South Carolina. School district officials called the incident ‘outrageous’ and have asked authorities to conduct an investigation into the matter. While we have yet to obtain the full story, the incident has renewed the notion that cops knowingly bully minorities. Similar accusations have surfaced in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York in the past couple of years.
The president got personal when suggesting that policemen are not innocent of racism.
“There were times I got pulled over,” he said. “Most of the time I got a ticket, I deserved it. But there were times when I didn’t. There are a lot of African Americans who have that same kind of story. The data shows this is not an aberration. There’s some racial bias in the system.”
He urged all the police chiefs in attendance to read the report his task force conducted on policing last year. He said it provided a list of recommendations and helped build trust between police and community – even former protesters.
The president also pushed for gun control, suggesting a national background check should be enforced for anyone wanting to buy a gun.