Attorney General Bill Barr praised police forces in the United States for the “progress” they have made over the years, particularly in the shooting of unarmed black suspects.
Reacting to the nationwide push for police reform sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and others, Barr told “Sunday Morning Futures” that unjustly demonizing law enforcement could “deter a lot of people from continuing to serve as police” and consequently lead to “an actual increase in violent crime and more deaths.”
Barr told Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo that, while he understands why the death of George Floyd “struck such a chord in the African-American community,” particularly because of the “long-standing distrust of law enforcement” caused by discriminatory laws, police have also made significant progress they’re not getting credit for.
“For the past few decades, we’ve been reforming our institutions to make sure they reflect our values, and the police have been engaged in that and we shouldn’t let this incident and the actions of a bad few obscure the fact that the police made a lot of progress,” he said.
“Instances of the shooting of black unarmed males has been dropping,” Barr continued. “It was 38 five years ago, last year it was 10. 10 in the nation, and six of those were involved in attacking the police officer at the time they were shot.”
The attorney general contended that while “any death is too many,” the “fact is that in proportion, it’s relatively small.”
“I mean, there are 8,000 — roughly 8,000 homicides of African-Americans in our country every year,” he said. “8,000. 10 last year were due to force by — shooting an unarmed black male. So we have to keep that in perspective.”
Barr also stressed the fact that police forces and their leadership “are much more diverse” and “committed to reform.” (RELATED: Heather Mac Donald: ‘Patently False Narrative About Systemic Police Bias’ Is ‘Putting Thousands More Lives At Risk’)
“Community policing has been taking hold around the country,” he said. “And that reform has to continue and what we have to do is bring out of these episodes, Minneapolis, something that’s good and that is it will galvanize the public will to continue that process of reform, but it has to be fair reform to the police.”
Barr defended the concept of qualified immunity based on his view that “most people would not take the job as a police officer” without it.