DALLAS - United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch made a stop in Dallas on Monday, promoting stronger community police programs and promising money for more local police officers.
Lynch kicked off National Community Policing Week with a forum at Sunset High School. Students, community leaders, and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and safety Barry Church discussed ways to strengthen the relationship between police and the community they serve.
"This is something the president cares very deeply about,” Lynch said. “He and I talk about these issues of the breakdown of trust between law enforcement and the communities that we serve."
Law enforcement around the country has seen the breakdown that has caused protests and violence across the nation.
"So even if there's issues with law enforcement, we can't turn our backs on law enforcement,” said Paul Quinn student Kevin Lee. “We can't turn our backs on each other."
The July 7 ambush on police in Dallas that killed five officers was top of mind for the attorney general.
"When someone was trying to sow dissension and turn Dallas into a place that was going to focus on the negative rhetoric and the hatred people talk about sometimes and the lack of trust,” Lynch said. “Dallas chose to go to its roots and say, ‘No, we actually are a community - all of us.’"
Witten and Church discussed their experience with Dallas officers and reminisced about the time they walked arm and arm with the family members of the slain officers.
“We felt it was a great opportunity to be arm and arm with our police force and really to pay tribute to them,” Witten said.
Dominque Alexander was notably not asked to be part of the community policing conversation. As the leader of the Next Generation Action Network, he’s organized several protests in Dallas against police brutality.
"We're continuing to protest because our voice is continued to try to be attacked and silenced every time, every day,” he said. “And it's a shame that we're not brought to the table to address these issues.”
Lynch also discussed the nearly $120 million in grant money from the Justice Department that will be used to help hire more police officers. The grant money will be split between 184 departments across the country.
Dallas will receive more than $3 million, which should be enough to hire 25 officers.
Lynch and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will attend a National Night Out event on Tuesday night hosted by the Dallas Police Department.