Tensions between the police and the communities they serve are high, but President Obama praised police officers in a speech at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the Capitol on Friday.
“We cannot erase every darkness and danger from the duty that you have chosen,” Obama said. “We can offer you the support you need to be safe.”
Obama acknowledged that there are problems in the communities where police and civilians tend to clash the most.
“We can do everything we have to do to combat the poverty that plagues too many communities you have to serve,” he said. “We can work harder as a nation to heal the rifts that still exist in some place between law enforcement and the people you risk your lives to protect. We owe it to people who sacrificed their lives.”
Obama also advocated for more resources for police officers and working to mend community relationships.
“It takes a special kind of courage to be a peace officer,” Obama said.
Some people in law enforcement have blamed Obama for conflicts between police and their communities.
Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. of Milwakuee County, Wisconsin, said in a series of tweets: “Obama started this war on police intentionally … Right in line with his community agitating.”
Before Obama went off stage to meet with the families of fallen officers, he ended his speech by saying: “Most of all we can say thank you. We can say we appreciate you and we’re grateful for the work you do every day.”