Lynch says police feel ‘under siege’ in wake of attacks

Chris Strohm

Police around the U.S. feel like they are “under siege" in the wake of two deadly ambushes and increased tensions nationwide between law enforcement and the communities they serve, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.

A day after President Barack Obama told police that “we have your backs,” Lynch said the Justice Department is promoting programs to support police and communities, including training officers to de-escalate conflicts and handle active shooters. She didn’t detail new efforts or funding in the wake of separate police killings this month in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Those incidents came amid protests after officers in Minnesota and Louisiana shot and killed two black men.

"Law enforcement is feeling under siege because of these incidents and they are tragic," Lynch told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. However, police departments and communities alike want the violence to end, she said. Eight officers were killed in the Dallas and Baton Rouge attacks.

"The tragedies that we are seeing are affecting all of us," Lynch said. "Individuals who talk about not feeling safe are also echoing what our police officers say when they talk about how they are not safe in many situations. That is not a situation for growth and doesn’t bring out the best in us."

Lynch met yesterday with Obama, FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to “review the efforts that this administration is taking and has taken for some time to support law enforcement in the field," Lynch said.

Obama’s letter and Oval Office meeting followed criticism of his support for police on Monday at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where the first day’s theme was “make America safe again.”

Following the meeting with his top domestic security officials, Obama promised to spend the rest of his presidency seeking to “do more” to protect police officers and address tensions between law enforcement and minorities. He said he would consult with police departments and Congress on how to provide additional support.

In an open letter to U.S. law enforcement yesterday, Obama wrote, “As we bind up our wounds, we must come together to ensure that those who try to divide us do not succeed. Thank you for your courageous service. We have your backs.”