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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: FBI Director’s Speech on Race Is Two-Way Street

James Comey

By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
Editorial Board 

During a widely lauded speech at Georgetown University last week, FBI Director James B. Comey proved that he’s no J. Edgar Hoover. Instead of glossing over unpleasant truths about the relationship between minority communities and the police, Mr. Comey seized on the opportunity to acknowledge the reality of racial bias in law enforcement. He also called for a deeper understanding by the public of the difficulty of urban policing.

In a balanced speech, Mr. Comey noted that the African-American community’s concerns about racially biased policing has merit, especially in the wake of high-profile killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement in recent years.

Mr. Comey called for an honest discussion about the perception of black men that many officers carry with them as a result of the arrests they’ve made in high-crime communities. A disproportionate number of African-Americans go through the criminal justice system, a fact that can contribute to suspicions about blacks in every police encounter.

But just as many police officers suffer from a myopia about African- Americans, Mr. Comey said the same can be true of residents. Communities of color should strive to understand what goes through an officer’s mind in policing and protecting a neighborhood. Most officers, who put their own safety on the line, want to help law-abiding citizens and not be written off as racist or hostile.

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