Obama Suggests 3 Steps to Prevent Fatal Incidents With Police After Diamond Reynolds Addresses Him

The president was responding to a question from Diamond Reynolds.

ByABC News
July 14, 2016, 8:09 PM

— -- Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile who filmed the aftermath of his shooting death at the hands of police, asked President Barack Obama how to prevent other families from experiencing what she did during a town hall on race relations in America titled "The President and the People: A National Conversation."

"How do we as a nation stop what has happened to my family and all the other victims across the world ... what do we do to stop this from continuing to happen?" Reynolds asked from Minnesota, where she attended Castile's funeral earlier in the day. "What do we do? How do we come together as a nation?"

Obama responded first by saying his "heart goes out to all the families who've been impacted" and that he could "only imagine" what Reynolds was going through.

Obama spoke as part of a Disney Media Networks town hall titled "The President and the People: A National Conversation," which aired Thursday at 8 p.m. ET and was simulcast commercial-free on ABC, ESPN, Freeform, ABCNews.com, Freeform Digital, Watch ABC, Watch ESPN, Yahoo, ABC News’ Facebook page and YouTube channel as well as ABC Radio and ESPN Radio. Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

"The place to start is for everyone to recognize that we need police officers, and those police officers need to be embraced by the community," Obama said.

"It's good for everybody," he added.

The common goal should be to reduce the number of incidents like what happened in the past week in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas, Obama said, before providing a list of three things to accomplish that goal.

1. Police officers should get to know their communities.

"The more police departments know the communities and get to know those communities ahead of time, the more trust is built," Obama said.

The president then pointed to the police department in Camden, New Jersey, as an example, a tough community where there's a high murder rate.

When the new police chief came in, the first thing he did was require new hires to spend the first few months just walking the beat, Obama said. This way, the new police officers get to know the small businesses and learn the names of the residents. In turn, the community gets the sense that the police "know them," Obama said, and feels that police are looking out for them. Thus, they are more likely to cooperate with police, he said.

2. Police training needs to go beyond the technical aspects of police work.

"Police officers that are doing the best work are also training their officers not just on shooting," but also on how to get rid of implicit biases, Obama said.

"We all carry around with us some assumptions about other people," he said. "And so, that has to be worked through."

Police officers who get that type of training end up being able to engage and deescalate encounters more effectively, according to the president.

3. Police departments need more resources to implement best practices.

"When budgets get cut, and you're trying to do things on the cheap, and you've got new officers, and they are suddenly just put into tough situations, then the likelihood of something escalating increases," Obama said.

It's important for police departments to have the resources they need, including the proper equipment to protect themselves, he said. Enough police staffing is also crucial, so officers don't feel like they're undermanned.

"That makes a difference," Obama said.

In addition, Obama said it's important for police to have due process, so people have confidence that when something happens, it will be investigated fairly and properly. It's important for civic leaders, churches and elected officials to have conversations before a crisis happens instead of waiting until something bad happens, he said.

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