The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City exposed deep rooted frustration in many communities, he said, adding that a policing task force has found it's important for law enforcement agencies and the communities to improve cooperation.
"The moment is now for us to make these changes," Obama said on Monday.
"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," he said after receiving a report of the task force on 21st Century Policing which he had constituted in December last year.
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 also recognised a particularly controversial recommendation would be the need for independent investigations in fatal police shootings.
The task force talked about the issue of legitimacy as being important not just for the communities but also for law enforcement officers, the more there is trust between communities and law enforcement, the safer it is for cops, the more effectively they can do their jobs, the more cooperation there's going to be and more likely those communities are to be safe, he said after a meeting with the task force members.
"So there is no theoretical separation between the interests of community and law enforcement. But obviously the devil is in the details and we've got to figure out how to make that work," Obama added.
"Across this country, we've got 18,000 law enforcement jurisdictions. Right now, we do not have a good sense and local communities do not have a good sense of how frequently there may be interactions with police and community members that result in a death, result in a shooting," Obama noted.
In August last year, Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In July, Garner died in New York allegedly after a police officer put him in a chokehold. Both the incidents had triggered nationwide protests.

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