During a Thursday town hall on ABC News, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) confronted President Obama about his recent comments on the tension between the black community and police officers, arguing that police officers don’t feel Obama completely supports them.
“I’m concerned that police officers across the country — they know you support law enforcement of course — but do they really in their heart feel like you’re doing everything you can to protect their lives?” Patrick asked Obama at the town hall.
Patrick said that after a Wednesday meeting at the White House, Obama said “the tension between the police and between black America is only going to get worse.” It appears Patrick was referring to Obama’s comments that “we’re not even close” to solving issues between police and minorities.
“Words matter, your words matter much more than mine. Everything you say matters,” Patrick told Obama. “And I would ask you to consider being careful when there is an incident of not being too quick to condemn the police without due process and until the facts are known.”
Obama defended his recent comments about the police and explained how he has approached the issue.
“I have been unequivocal in condemning any rhetoric directed at police officers,” Obama said. “So I think, lieutenant governor, you’d have to find any message that did not include a very strong support for law enforcement in all my utterances dating back to Ferguson because I rely on law enforcement to protect me and my family, just like everybody else does. So I appreciate the sentiment. I think it’s already been expressed.”
The President offered to send his recent comments to Patrick.
The lieutenant governor jumped in to say, “I know you have. I just want them to know it in their heart.”
Obama then continued to explain how he has approached concerns about the way minorities are sometimes treated by law enforcement.
“I have also insisted throughout all these processes that law enforcement is deserving of due process just like everybody else,” he said. “So no matter how powerful videos may be or what’s been said, everybody deserves to be treated fairly by the justice system.”
He added that he is “aware that my words matter deeply here.”
But Obama noted that “the data shows that there are disparities in terms of how persons of color and whites are treated in the aggregate” and that “we have to address that honestly.”
The President said that we all need to “make sure that we don’t pretend as if there aren’t potential problems in how police and certain communities interact, and that when we raise those issues, or people raise those issues, that the perception is that that’s anti-police.”
He said that he thinks America will reach a solution but that “there are going to be some problems” along the way.
Watch the exchange at ABC News.