This past Sunday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the controversial alleged suicide case of Sandra Bland as well as the dash cam video of the Chicago woman’s arrest. In an upcoming interview, she argues that her death demands a close re-evaluation of the current policing methods of officers across the country and further justifies the frustration that African-Americans have towards them.
“It highlights the concern of many in the black community that a routine stop for many members of the black community is not handled with the same professionalism and courtesy that other people may get from the police,” Lynch said to ABC News.
Lynch, the first African-American woman as Attorney General also stated that many police departments throughout the United States are currently working on re-education techniques to de-escalate conflict and improve on conflict resolution, as outlined on the Department of Justice’s pilot program.
“The one thing that has come out of this tragic, tragic situation—the loss of life of this young woman—has been a discussion about specific police techniques,” Lynch said. “Many of the things that we see police departments doing across the country, frankly, is working on exactly the type of techniques that would have been helpful here. As part of my community policing tour, I’ve talked to officers who have said, one of things that they have appreciated most is training in de-escalation tactics, to sort of get away from the classic let’s just stop and arrest or chase and arrest, and figure out how can we calm a situation down.”
The pilot program from the DOJ, inspired by the incident in Ferguson, Mo., was designed to help six different culturally diverse cities strengthen the bonds between its citizens and law enforcement. The cities included Stockton, Calif.; Fort Worth, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Minneapolis, Min.; Gary, Ind.; and Birmingham, Ala. The program is funded by a $4.75 million grant for three years.
Lynch added, “We have a situation where many minority communities for so long have felt that law enforcement was coming in essentially to enforce laws against them, not to protect them.” Lynch said. “I do think that what has been a important part of the debate in Miss Bland’s death has been the discussions that we’ve seen from community members and police leaders alike…about the importance of training and deescalating incidents.”
According to Houston’s ABC 13, Illinois Congressman Bill Foster along with Bland’s family and friends recently sent the Attorney General a letter asking for a federal investigation into her death. However, Lynch has yet to publicly speak on if she would support it.