Obama gathering civil rights leaders for Ferguson discussions

President Obama on Monday will focus on the relationship between local police departments and the communities they protect and serve in the wake of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, Mo. 

{mosads}Obama will meet with Cabinet members to discuss a review the president ordered in August of federal funding and programs that provide equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies, according to the White House.

Law enforcement officials were criticized for their militarized response to protests in Ferguson after a police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown. A grand jury last week refused to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the case.

After meeting with his Cabinet, Obama will gather young civil rights leaders to the Oval Office, the White House said. Topics for that discussion will include the mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color.

Later Monday, the president will meet with elected officials, community, civil rights and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials. That meeting will center on ways communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods. 

Recent events in Ferguson and elsewhere have shown the need for “strong, collaborative relationships” between local police and their communities, a White House official said.

The official also said a “disintegration of trust” between law enforcement and the people they protect and serve can destabilize communities and undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. Public safety can also be undermined, the official added.  

Current and former police chiefs said on Sunday that law enforcement agencies around the nation must not repeat the mistakes that led to riots in Ferguson.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and Deputy Dallas Police Chief Malik Aziz, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” criticized the police response to social unrest in Ferguson and said officials failed to anticipate a volatile situation.

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