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White House react to DOJ Chicago cops probe: Can restore ‘trust’

Attorney General Loretta Lynch discusses the U.S. Department of Justice investigation that found reasonable cause that the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern of using excessive force during a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building Friday. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

WASHINGTON — White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama believes probes into police misconduct – such as the scathing findings the Justice Department released Friday about the Chicago police – serve to restore “trust” in local policing.

Hours after Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in Chicago, unveiled the results of the 13-month long Chicago Police Department investigation, Earnest said, “I haven’t spoken to the president about the specific report.”

With one week left to the Obama presidency, Earnest said at the White House daily briefing, “the president does believe the Department of Justice, as a matter of principle, can play a useful role in helping uncover facts that can then be used to begin to restore trust and faith and confidence in local law enforcement, particularly among those communities that feel their concerns . . . have gone unheard.”

Earnest said the aim has been to “rebuild trust in a way that makes these communities safe but also makes these police officers more safe as they try to do their dangerous work.”

As for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, Earnest made a point of saying that Emanuel’s administration “has worked to cooperate with the Department of Justice to try to get to the root of these problems and to try to design some solution that will address them.”

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