Attorney General William Barr suggested lawmakers “avoid extremes” and consider a “balance” between communities and individuals needing protection and security with any curbs on law enforcement in their desire for “police reform.”
Barr spoke briefly to reporters Wednesday after meeting with religious, business and community leaders at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the South Carolina capital of Columbia about relations between Blacks and police.
“I think we have to avoid extremes and recognize it’s a question of prudence and balance,” Barr said. “We need a police force. We need these institutions to provide peace and security in society to allow our lives to flourish.
“At the same time, whenever you have that kind of institution, you have that possibility of abuse. And, so, you have to put reins and checks in place to make sure these institutions that are designed to protect the community don’t themselves become oppressive. It’s a question of striking the right balance.”
Barr appeared with Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who authored a bill on police reform Democrats blocked from a vote, claiming it was not enough.
The visit to South Carolina was the latest in series of meetings Barr has held with community leaders and law enforcement officials on a range of issues from community relations and police training and practices, The Epoch Times reported.
The meeting comes following weeks of protests and riots in the wake of the death of a Black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The demonstrations, many led by the group Black Lives Matter, have included the toppling of statues of historical figures, demands to “defund the police” and even “black sovereignty by any means necessary,” according to New York BLM leader Hawk Newsome.
Barr’s tone on Wednesday appeared moderate.
“It’s not defunding the police or doing away with the police or demonizing the police, nor is it giving short shrift to the legitimate concerns that are out there about police abuse and overreach,” Barr said.
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