Attorney General Loretta Lynch on rebuilding trust between law enforcement, communities

Last week CBS News reported on the lack of oversight that allows officers with checkered pasts to patrol the streets. These so-called “gypsy cops” leave one police department and, despite questionable records, are hired by another.

Correspondent DeMarco Morgan asked the nation’s top cop, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, why there’s no national database to prevent these kinds of transfers. 

“The [Justice] Department has supported one particular organization that is working on such a national database,” she replied, “and we hope that it will be of use to police departments as something that they can look at in their recruitment and retention of officers, as well as providing information, helping us collect data about these incidents in general. So we support making sure that every police department has the information they need to make the best hiring choices possible.”

“Do you find that disturbing that there is no oversight?” Morgan asked.

“We’re talking about 18,000 police departments across the country with a welter of different jurisdictions over that. And that’s challenging. What I find encouraging, however, is within the debate, within policing itself is a desire for consistency, is a desire for standards, to which every department can adhere.”

Morgan asked Lynch about the concept of “community policing.”

“Community policing is policing that’s based upon a connection between law enforcement and the community, the specific community that it is serving at that time,” she said. “Rebuilding the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities that we serve is one of my top priorities as Attorney General.”

With reference to police shootings in such cities as Charlotte, Tulsa or Baltimore, “some say justice takes too long,” Morgan said. “What do you say to those people?”

“Justice is a process,” Lynch said. “And I think that justice is not just what happens in court. Justice happens in the streets when people expressed themselves in peaceful protests. And they hold up a mirror to society and they say to all of us who are working as hard as we can and say, ‘We know you’re doing a lot but we need you to hear that there’s more work to be done.’”

Morgan asked, “For those who feel the law enforcement system is broken, what do you say to those people?”

“I say I understand your frustration, and I understand how you would feel that way. I remind people that this is a process, that the way of working through a case can take time, a way of working through issues can take time, and that we’re building on the work of people who have gone before us.

“We look back at the arc of history and we see the progress that we have made in this country. That should give people hope that even though they may be in a difficult moment now – they may be in a dark period now -- we have always pushed forward, we have always pushed for progress. And we have always, always fought for justice.”

Lynch also told CBS News that while the videos of police clashing with citizens have been painful to watch, they’ve also allowed the rest of the country to “see and understand” an issue that the minority community has been facing for decades.