INDIANAPOLIS (July 13, 2015) – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivered a strong message to law enforcement in Indianapolis Monday, saying a lot of work is still needed to mend relations nationwide between officers and the black community.
Lynch gave the keynote address at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives’ annual conference being held downtown.
“Communities of color all too often feel like the targets rather than the beneficiaries of law enforcement,” Lynch said.
Lynch, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April as the 83rd Attorney General, promised the crowd of law enforcement officials from across the country that the Justice Department is paying attention. She is in the midst of a nationwide tour, meeting with local law enforcement in an effort to better those relationships.
“All too often there’s deeply-rooted tensions,” she said. “There’s anxieties. There’s mistrust. They’ve been allowed to fester until they erupt violently. In recent months, a series of tragedies in cities across the country have reminded us those breakdowns can have devastating consequences.”
Lynch said the focus of the Justice Department is to empower local law enforcement, hoping to engage them in a critical nationwide dialogue.
“I’m glad to hear her say we’re starting to have the conversations that are necessary and turning the corner,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Rick Hite said.
Hite was one of a number of local officials who met privately with Lynch on Monday, talking about community policing and police body cameras.
IMPD’s pilot program ended Monday.
“I want every officer to be outfitted with a camera,” Hite said. “It’s important we do that. It’s a $2 million price tag, but I think the price of losing a life without any further conversation requires evidence to show our police action.”
Local law enforcement said they hope this is the start of ongoing conversations with federal officials.
“Bolstering the trust of these relationships is one of my top priorities as Attorney General,” Lynch said. “And I pledge to you today the Department of Justice will do everything we can to support the progress that you and all of our communities need and deserve.”