Obama Visits Camden to Talk Community Police Initiatives

President Barack Obama arrived at Philadelphia International Airport Monday ahead of a visit to Camden to discuss how police are working to build trust with the community and to promote his "Promise Zone" program.

On Monday, Obama met with law enforcement and young people to hear about how the Camden County Police Department works to forge relationships with the community it serves, the White House said.

Before the Camden visit, Obama paused to thank Philadelphia and its rescue workers for their response to the Amtrak derailment.

Obama stopped briefly to talk and shake hands with Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials at Philadelphia International Airport. He then boarded a Marine helicopter bound for Camden.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the visit was planned to thank fire, police and other emergency officials for their quick action to save lives and treat the wounded after last week's fatal train wreck.

In Camden, Obama visited the police Real-Time Tactical Operational Intelligence Center and watched live video displays of city neighborhoods being monitored by officers. He also stopped by a community center where he met with young people and local police officers.

"It's to address things before they become problems," Chief John Scott Thomson told the president.

With police under increased scrutiny over highly publicized deaths of black suspects nationwide, Obama also unveiled the final report of a task force he created to help build confidence between police and minority communities. And he issued a broader appeal for Americans to address racial disparities and the needs of poor communities before they erupt into disorder.

He also reiterated his call for overhauling sentencing practices for nonviolent drug crimes.

"We can't ask the police to be the ones to solve the problem when there are no able-bodied men in the community or kids are growing up without intact households," he said.

Camden was recently one of eight places designated a "Promise Zone," which could open doors to get extra federal grants. Camden will get a liaison to help line up money, among other benefits. However, it does not come with any automatic federal funding.

The White House says the program uses federal grants to increase economic opportunity, reduce crime and improve public health, among other things.

Obama returned to PHL shortly after 4:10 p.m. and Air Force One took off around 4:25 p.m.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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