WASHINGTON, July 19 (UPI) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday posted an open letter expressing support for the U.S. law enforcement community hours before meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey to discuss tensions between police and the communities they serve.
The president addressed the letter to “the brave members of our nation’s law enforcement community.”
“Every day, you confront danger so it does not find our families, carry burdens so they do not fall to us, and courageously meet test after test to keep us safe,” he wrote. “Time and again, you make the split-second decisions that could mean life or death for you and many others in harm’s way. You endure the tense minutes and long hours over lifetimes of service.”
“I want you to know that the American people see it,” the president added. “We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you. And just as your tight-knit law enforcement family feels the recent losses to your core, our Nation grieves alongside you. Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us.”
Obama penned the letter after four deadly incidents so far this month that have resulted in the deaths of 10 people — two civilians and eight police officers in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas.
On Monday, he ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of three Baton Rouge officers who were killed in an ambush Sunday.
“I know that you take each of these tragedies personally, and that each is as devastating as a loss in the family,” Obama said in the letter. “Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve. I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our Nation.”
Later Tuesday, the National Fraternal Order of Police issued a response on its Facebook page.
“The reason this letter has value is that we want and deserve to change the National Dialogue,” it said. “The people of this country respect law enforcement. Now we continue to speak out about the issues that have helped create disconnects with members of the communities to work so hard to protect.
“Now it’s time for politicians and government to assist us in working in the communities we have always worked in to make life better for all Americans.”
In the afternoon, Obama met with Lynch, Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, where they discussed better equipment and training programs for police.
“There is no contradiction between us protecting our officers, honoring our officers, making sure that they have all the tools they need to do their job safely, and building trust between police officers and departments and the communities they serve,” the president said after the meeting. “Those things are complementary, and not contradictory.”
But the president acknowledged after the meeting that fixing the problem would not be easy.
“This is not going to be something we can do just from this office or from the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security,” the president said. “This is something that is going to have to be bottom-up.”
Here is the full text of Obama’s letter to police: