Deputy AG: Brooklyn shootings should not stop scrutiny of police misdeeds

Deputy AG: Brooklyn shootings should not stop scrutiny of police misdeeds
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Violence against police officers is not a consequence of the Justice Department’s efforts to reform police tactics, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Monday, after two New York City police officers were shot and killed over the weekend.

“I think that what you have to be able to do is have a conversation about isolated instances where we see profiling or we see excessive force, and, at the same time, we have to make sure that our officers are safe and that we do everything we can to make sure that the brave men and women who are part of law enforcement are protected as much as we can,” Cole, the No. 2 at the Justice Department, said at a news conference in Washington.

“Those are conversations that we have to have at the same time, and we can have at the same time,” he continued. “And I don't subscribe to the view that you can't do one or the other, and they cancel each other out.”

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Two officers were shot and killed Saturday afternoon while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Officials have said they believe 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who then ran into a nearby subway station and killed himself, was the culprit. 

An Instagram account reportedly belonging to Brinsley showed the alleged shooter posting anti-police messages and intimated that the killings were in response to incidents in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island where unarmed black men died after altercations with white police officers. Grand juries in both cases opted against bringing charges.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) over the weekend tweeted that the shooting of the two officers was the “predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric” from Attorney General Eric Holder and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). And former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said Holder and President Obama had “contributed to an atmosphere of hate towards police.”

But Cole argued that having discussions about police tactics was “not undercutting cops.”

He also condemned the shootings as “heinous and cowardly acts.”

“There's just no reason that we should have to be dealing with this,” he continued. “One of the main focuses that we've had in the Department of Justice is officer safety and making sure that we have procedures in place and training in place to encourage that.”