President Barack Obama said Monday that deadly shootings of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that police need to change to build trust in minority communities, with a White House task force recommending more police training and data collection on the use of deadly force.
The president said the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City exposed "deep rooted frustration in many communities of color around the need for fair and just law enforcement." He said a policing task force that he appointed found it's important for police and the communities they cover to build cooperation.
"The moment is now for us to make these changes," Obama said from the White House during a meeting with members of the task force, who worked for three months to develop their recommendations. "We have a great opportunity coming out of some great conflict and tragedy to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations so that everybody feels safer and our law enforcement officers feel -- rather than being embattled -- feel fully supported. We need to seize that opportunity."
Obama said the task force found great interest in developing best practices for police training to reduce bias and help officers deal with stressful situations. He recognized a particularly controversial recommendation would be the need for independent investigations in fatal police shootings.
"The importance of making sure that there's a sense of accountability when in fact law enforcement is involved in a deadly shooting is something that I think communities across the board are going to be considering," Obama said.
Laurie Robinson, a professor at George Mason University and co-chair of the task force, told reporters the type of community-police relations envisioned by the report does not happen quickly.
"It takes time, it takes relationship-building and it doesn't happen overnight," she said.