Washington, Oct 28: Asserting that America is safe because of police officers, US President Barack Obama has said that law enforcement officials often get "scapegoated" for failures of society and criminal justice system.
"Too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for the broader failures of our society and criminal justice system. I know that you do your jobs with distinction no matter the challenges you face.
That's part of wearing a badge. But we can't expect you to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren't willing to face or do anything about," Obama said in his address to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Chicago.
"This country is safer because of your efforts. Look at the statistics. Over the last 20 years, police have helped cut the violent crime rate and the homicide rate in America by almost half. It's an astonishing statistic," he said.
Obama acknowledged that the stereotypes misunderstanding between the police officers and minority communities is unlikely to go overnight. "It's certainly not going to happen overnight. And it's especially tough because there's more crime in these communities, which means that the police are interacting with them more than they are in some fancy neighborhoods," he said.
Good community policing has to be a two-way street. The communities that desperately need effective policing have to give police officers the benefit of the doubt and have to work with the police department to make sure they have got the resources and support to effectively implement strategies that we know work.
"Today, Americans are nearly half as likely to be the victim of an aggravated assault, and less than half as likely to be the victim of a robbery," he said.
We can't stop every crime. We can't prevent every tragedy: Obama
"We've got to resist the false trap that says either there should be no accountability for police, or that every police officer is suspect no matter what they do. Neither of those things can be right. It's on all of us to let investigations uncover facts," he added.
Obama said reforming the criminal justice system so it is smarter and it can reduce crime while still reducing the incarceration rate. "Restoring trust between communities. Refusing to give up on gun safety. We can take those steps. That's within our reach," he said.
"We can't stop every crime. We can't prevent every tragedy. There is evil in the world. There are just some bad people. You don't know why sometimes, it just happens.
"You can't always make excuses for it; sometimes you can't even understand it. That's why we need laws. That's why we need law enforcement. That's why your job is dangerous. So we can't eliminate all of that," he observed.
"But if we take some of the actions I just talked about, then we will be able to help you. We'll be able to make sure that the society is a partner with law enforcement," Obama said.