Comey: Law Enforcement Needs to Do Better Job Understanding the ‘Journey of Black America’

Monday at the Anti-Defamation League Conference, FBI Director James Comey said law enforcement “officers and deputies and agents” need to do a better job “understanding” the communities they serve, including “the history and journey of black America—the hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, and the pain.”

Comey said,”Everybody in this room knows that officers and deputies and agents signed up for this work because they want to do good for other people. They want to help other people o matter what they look like, no matter what they believe, no matter who they love. They signed up to help all the people, all the time. But we have to do a better job of not just explaining that to the communities we serve and protect. We need to do a better job of understanding those communities. Especially those with the greatest need for police. We need to know the people who live there, the challenges they confront, the fears that they have, the hopes they have.”

“As law enforcement officers, we especially need a full understanding of the history and journey of black America—the hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, and the pain,” he continued. “We need to know the history of law enforcement’s interaction with black America because black people cannot forget it. We need to know what is happening in all of our communities, not what we think is happening, or even what the people we’re serving to think is happening, but what is really happening.”

Comey added, “For that, we need better information in this country. Now, I know data is a boring word. People tend to tune out when you start talking about data. But it’s vital because only data, only information, gives us a full picture of what’s happening. It’s what smart people use to make hard decisions. We at the FBI have been pressing for more data in this country for the last two years, and we will keep pressing for it. Data related to violent crimes of homicides, data related to officer-involved shootings, data related to altercations with citizens and attacks against law enforcement officers, and yes, data related to hate crime.”

“We must do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what’s happening in our communities and in our country so we can stop it,” he continued. “Some jurisdictions do not report hate crime data. Some say there were no hate crimes in their jurisdiction, which would be awesome if it were true. We must continue to impress upon our state and local counterparts how important it is that we track and report hate crime data. It’s not something we can ignore, not something we can sweep under the rug, even though it’s painful.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN


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