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While addressing the International Association of Chiefs of Police during an appearance in Chicago Tuesday, President Barack Obama declared that law enforcement often gets “scapegoated” for failures in society and the criminal justice system.

Stressing that he understands many police officers “want to do the right thing,” the president also encouraged police to build relationships with minority communities in order to reduce violent crimes, while also building trust with the people they are sworn to protect and serve.

“I reject any narrative that seeks to divide police and communities that they serve. I reject a storyline that says when it comes to public safety there’s an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ — a narrative that too often gets served up to us by news stations seeking ratings, or tweets seeking retweets, or political candidates seeking some attention,” Obama said.

[…]

“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 the badge,” he said.

The president — who has come under fire from conservatives for defending the Black Lives Matter movement that aims to curb police and state violence — called for “a serious and robust debate over fairness in law enforcement, over our broader criminal justice system when it comes particularly to communities of color,” USA Today writes.

Obama’s stop in Chicago is part of his national tour to push criminal justice reform, but he also took a moment to address gun safety laws — the Illinois city itself is known for being plagued with gun violence in recent years. He made it a point, however, not to use Chicago as an example of gun control laws gone wrong.

From USA Today:

“Every time a mass shooting happens, one of the saddest ironies is that suddenly the purchase of firearms and ammunition jumps up because folks are scared into thinking that Obama is going to use this as an excuse to take away our Second Amendment rights. Nobody is doing that. We’re talking about common-sense measures to make sure criminals don’t get them, to make sure background checks work, to make sure that we’re protecting ourselves.”

He also dismissed a critique of gun control policies that point to Chicago as an example of failed gun laws. “They say, well, look, Chicago had a spike in homicides this year, they’ve got gun safety laws, so this must be proof that tougher gun safety laws don’t help, maybe make things worse,” Obama said. “The problem with that argument, as the Chicago Police Department will tell you, is that 60% of guns recovered in crimes come from out of state. You’ve just got to hop across the border.”

You can watch Obama’s remarks in the video above.

SOURCE: USA Today | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform

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