President Barack Obama's task force on policing conducted a panel discussion at the University of Cincinnati. The panel included a police chief, an officer, a researcher and a civil rights activist – and their perspectives were as wildly different as their job descriptions, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
When asked about the use of force by police, Sgt. Michael McHale, of Sarasota, Florida, said police officers use force only when necessary and blamed "inflammatory rhetoric" in the media for fueling anti-police sentiment.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of the civil rights group ColorOfChange, described police misconduct as a national crisis and "one of America's great wrongs."
The men, who sat just two seats apart, represent opposing sides of the national debate that prompted Obama to form the task force in the first place. The president asked the task force to study how to strengthen trust between police and the public in the wake of several high-profile incidents last year, including a fatal shooting of an African-American man by police in Ferguson, Missouri.
The conversation hinted at how difficult it will be to come to a consensus on meaningful proposals. McHale, for example, emphasized the threat to police and said citizens needed to learn more about the risks officers face every day, possibly by attending police training sessions or going along with officers on patrol.
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Michael Gargiulo, Pretrial Hearing 45
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