Scott outlines ideas to improve relationships between police, communities

Published: Jul. 14, 2016 at 6:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2016 at 9:27 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, DC (WCSC/CNN) - The nation's only African-American Republican in the U.S. Senate delivered the final in a series of speeches this week in response to fatal shootings of two African-American men by white police officers and the sniper attack that left five Dallas police officers dead.

Scott said solutions to improve trust between police officers and communities, particularly members of the black community, will require work from multiple sources.

He spoke of the need for work at the federal level, mentioning as an example legislation about police body cameras designed to remove doubt the events during encounters between police and citizens.

"Much of this work that needs to be done won't be done on the federal level if it is done by the government," he said. "It will be done by the local government and the state government.

He said he has spoken to law enforcement officers who insist there is a need for de-escalation and diversity training as well as efforts to get officers out of their cars and into the communities.

"It's a two-way street," he said. "I think the Dallas police chief said it very well. He made the point better than I could ever say it. He said, 'If you have issues with policing in your neighborhoods, well, we're hiring.'"

A second set of issues he said needs to be tackled is opportunity.

"Too many people communities in our nation feel like they've been left behind, like no one cares," he said. "So why should we care?"

He said education, jobs and investment are the ingredients to boost opportunity in neighborhoods.

The final solution, he says, must be on a personal level. He referred to an African-American trauma surgeon at Parkland Hospital in Dallas who had his own concerns about police, but set those feelings aside and fought to save their lives.

"As he woke up and prepared for the next day, he struggled, because he struggled with his personal relationship, his personal concerns with law enforcement," Scott said. "So what is he doing? I think this is instructive for all of us. He said he is making sure that his daughter sees him buying lunch for officers, sees them interacting in a friendly way, because he doesn't want to pass on to his daughter any sense of fear of law enforcement but respect, appreciation and affection for men and women who wear the uniform."

Thursday's speech was the third of three the conservative second-term senator delivered this week.

On Wednesday, Scott told members of Congress he has repeatedly been targeted throughout his life by racial profiling, and said that included his time as a senator.

"But please remember that in the course of one year, I've been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers," Scott said Wednesday. "Not four, not five, not six, but seven times in one year as an elected official."

Scott asked his fellow lawmakers to imagine the frustration, irritation and the sense of loss of dignity that accompanies each one of those stops.

At the end of his speech, Scott pleaded with Americans who don't face racism not to ignore the plight of those who do.

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