President Obama tells why it will be different this time
President Obama’s press conference after missing with Ferguson and other activists about police bad acts was telling. At the press conference he said the following.
When any part of the American family does not feel it is treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us. It’s not just a problem for some. It’s not just a problem for a particular community or a particular demographic. It means we are not as strong as a country as we can be. And when applied to the criminal justice system it means we are not as effective in fighting crime as we could be. And as a consequence, what I have been able to do today thanks to excellent work by Eric Holder, our Attorney General who had to fly down to Atlanta to start a conversation down there around these issues as well as the outstanding leaders around this table, is to begin a process in which we are able to surface an honest conversation between law enforcement, community activists, academics, elected officials, the faith community to try to determine what the problems are and most importantly try to come up with concrete solutions that can move the ball forward. …
Let me just close by saying this. There is a cautionary note I think from everybody here that there have been commissions before, there have been task forces, conversations and nothing happens. What I try to describe to people is why this time will be different. Part of the reason why this time will be different is because the President of the United States is deeply invested in making sure that this time is different. … When I hear the young people around this table talk about their experiences, it violates my belief in what America can be. To hear young people feeling marginalized and distrustful even after they have done everything right. That’s not who we are. And I don’t think that’s who the overwhelming majority of Americans want us to be. And I think there may be a convergence here. We’ve got outstanding law enforcement officials who recognize that times have changed and want to be responsive. I know that Richard Berry of the International Associates and Chiefs of Police spoke about how eager they are to work with us. I think that we have activists on the ground who don’t always get attention because often time the people who are constructive don’t get attention but there are folks there who are working very hard. I think there is a maturity in the conversation right now that can lead us to actually get some concrete results. And in the two years I have remaining as President, I am going to maje sure that we follow through. Not to solve every problem. Not to tear down every barrier of mistrust that may exist. But to make things better. And that is how progress is always made in this great county of ours.
MediaMatters reports the hyperventilation by Right Wing media for this modest President’s good act.
Conservative media outlets attacked President Obama’s proposed plan for $263 million in funding for police training and body cameras following the police shooting of Michael Brown, accusing Obama of blaming police instead of focusing on issues affecting the black community. But research has shown that the use of body cameras has decreased civilian complaints and the use of force by police.
White House Requests $263 Million For Police Training And Body Cameras
Obama Administration Requests $263 Million For Additional Police Training And Body Cameras In Wake Of Michael Brown Shooting. In addition to pledging to tighten standards on the transfer of military equipment to local police precincts and preparing recommendations for “21st century policing,” the Obama administration requested $263 million to fund law enforcement training and 50,000 body cameras for police:
The White House has asked for $263 million in funding for police body cameras and training in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The program, which would need congressional approval, would offer a total of $75 million over three years to match state funding for the cameras by 50 percent, helping to pay for more than 50,000 of the devices.
The announcement came as Obama held a series of meetings with law enforcement personnel, civil rights leaders and Cabinet officials to discuss possible reforms to ease mistrust towards police, particularly in minority communities. [NBC News, 12/1/14]
Conservative Media Criticize Obama For Focusing On Police Accountability
Mark Levin Blasts Obama For Focusing On “Racist Cops” Instead Of Black Unemployment Rates And “Black-On-Black Crime.” Radio host Mark Levin criticized Obama’s police training proposal on the December 1 edition of his show, accusing the president of focusing on “racist cops” instead of black-on-black crime and black unemployment in the inner city. Levin blamed Obama for creating “desperate” socio-economic conditions in black communities, claiming that the president “doesn’t want to fix” the situation and is instead focused on “lectur[ing] the nation on racist cops” and “white guilt.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 12/1/14]
Fox’s Carlson: Obama “Not Really Addressing The True Issue Here.” On the December 2 edition of The Real Story, host Gretchen Carlson responded to Obama’s plan by suggesting that instead of addressing police accountability, “shouldn’t we be having a bigger discussion about race relations in this country, potentially, or the high unemployment in the minority ranks across this country? Carlson later insisted that “the president, it seems, is not really addressing the true issue here. Maybe there are more steps to come, but this one may not be getting to the heart of the issue.” [Fox News, The Real Story, 12/2/14]
Fox & Friends: Instead Of Police, President Should Be Worried About Unemployment, Education In Black Community. On the December 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy echoed a previous interview with a Milwaukee County sheriff, saying that “unemployment,” “education,” and a lack of “opportunity” were more pressing issues than police training. Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck added “the trap of government handouts” to the list of issues the President should be worried about instead of guaranteeing police accountability. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/2/14]
Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol: Calls For Police Accountability Tantamount To “Beating Up On The Cops.” On the December 1 edition of CNN’s The Lead, The Weekly Standard‘s Bill Kristol characterized calls for police body cameras as “beating up on the cops” and a “terrible idea,” suggesting that Obama wear a body camera “when he meets in private with civil rights leaders.” [CNN, The Lead with Jake Tapper, 12/1/14]
Fox’s MacCallum: Instead Of “Pointing The Finger Of Blame” At Police, Obama Should Have Brought People Together. On the December 2 edition of America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum suggested Obama’s reaction to Ferguson has been “divisive” and claimed he was “pointing the finger of blame” at police with his proposal:
MACCALLUM: You see how divisive all of it has been and it looks like race relations have deteriorated in the wake of all of this. And I wonder what role President Obama and Eric Holder could have played, and how instrumental it might have been if President Obama had gone there and stood in front of some of those destroyed businesses and talked about bringing people together in this instead of pointing the finger of blame — you know, largely, he didn’t completely — towards the police. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 12/2/14]
Outfitting Police With Body Cameras Offers Many Benefits
DOJ Report Found That Use Of Body Cameras Reduced Use Of Force By Police. Vox.com highlighted a 2014 Department of Justice report that found that in one city, “use of force by officers dropped 60 percent, and citizen complaints declined by 88 percent” and that “similar findings applied to other cities with body cameras.” The research also found other benefits:
The research also indicated that body cameras assist in the resolution of citizen complaints against police, and body cameras may reduce the likelihood of false complaints against police. In the UK studies, body cameras appeared to reduce officers’ paperwork, improve cops’ ability to determine whether a crime occurred, and increased the chances of a case ending in a guilty plea instead of a criminal trial.
In a separate report by the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, several police chiefs heralded the use of body cameras as a means to collect evidence. [Vox.com, 12/1/14]