Obama: Police Are Asked To "Contain" Crime, But Real Problem Is "Not Enough Jobs"


On the topic of the riots in Baltimore last week, President Obama tells David Letterman that "this is not just a policing problem," but one where "pockets of poverty" are ignored and "contained" until some violence happens, and the police "paper over" the problem.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Families of police officers all across the country every day, they're wondering "is my loved one going to come home," so they have a really tough job.

What we also know, though, is that for far too long, for decades, you have a situation in which too many communities don't have a relationship of trust with the police And if you just have a handful of police who are not doing the right thing, that makes the job tougher for all the other police officers out there.

It creates an environment in the community where they feel as if, rather than being protected and served, they're the targets of arbitrary arrests or stops, so our job has to be to rebuild trust, and we put forward a task force made up of police officers but also young activists who have been protesting in Ferguson or here in New York.

They came up with terrific recommendations about collecting data on what happens when there's a shooting involving police, what are we doing in terms of things like body cameras, and so there are some very practical, concrete things we can do to make the system work better.

But -- and this is something I reminded people of the other day -- this is not just a policing problem. What you have are pockets of poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of education all across this country, and too often we ignore those pockets until something happens, and then we act surprised. We have the TV cameras come in.

And essentially, we put the police officers in a really tough spot where we say to them, just contain the problem. So if young African-American men are being shot, but it's not affecting us, you know, we'll just kind of paper that over.
And part of the message i'm trying to deliver is, look, you have a crisis in these communities that's been going on for years where too many young people don't have hope, they don't see opportunity, there are not enough jobs, we've created an approach to drugs that leads to mass incarcerations, so then you have no father figures in these communities. When those folks get out of prison, they can't get a job because they have a felony record.

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