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US Attorney General talks police-community ties in Detroit: "We're here to help"

Aug 3, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice is “ready to work” with Detroit and other cities to help ease tensions between police and many communities.

That was U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s message over the past two days in Detroit.

Lynch first spoke at a rally outside a Detroit police precinct for the National Night Out Tuesday. That annual event promotes improved police-community relations.

Lynch admits the country “has had some challenging times” with that lately, as high-profile violence has “frayed trust” between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“But the ties that bind us -- neighborhood, family, community -- that’s what always prevails,” she said. “That’s what succeeds. And the Department of Justice is your partner. We’re here to work with you, and we’re here to learn from you.”

Lynch kicked off a series of national forums on police-community ties at Wayne State University Wednesday.

The goal is to “come with solutions that we can lift up,” she said.

The “recent tragedies over the last several weeks … have really not just struck a chord in so many people, but they have awakened a pain in so many people that really crosses all boundaries.”

Twenty police officers were killed in the line of duty in July, said Detroit Police Chief James Craig.

“We have got to talk to each other, we’ve got to work with each other. That’s the response,” said Craig.

Justice department officials cited Detroit as a city where police have made significant strides toward rebuilding community trust.

The department saw many reforms under more than 13 years of federal oversight, which officially ended just this year.

But people need to see more accountability for police wrongdoing to restore trust, argued Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony.

“One of the things that folk need to see is police being arrested and going to jail and doing time. That’s basic,” Anthony said.

“Police officers who do wrong things, need to go jail and need to do time. That’s accountability.”