FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch returned to her native state Tuesday, visiting Fayetteville to talk to police officials and also visiting with student leaders.
During a news conference after her meetings with officials and students, Lynch said she had not spoken to Gov. Pat McCrory about the lawsuits each have filed against the other but she is willing to enter into discussions.
She said her office brought the suit against North Carolina because House Bill 2 is “inconsistent” with the country’s ideals and federal law.
Regarding local police, Lynch said she is confident that the Fayetteville Police Department is committed to transparency and working with her office to improve procedures.
Lynch, who was born in Greensboro and who grew up in Durham, visited the city as part of her community policing tour. Lynch became attorney general in April 2015.
Lynch is visiting six cities around the country that have done well with community policing.
She spoke to some students while in Fayetteville from the Cumberland County Youth Council and asked them, “In high tension cities, what should I tell police?”
The students responded that the police should “be themselves.”
“What should I tell Obama?”
They said to tell him thank you – and that they said hi.
While at the police station, she received a tour of the Fayetteville Police Department’s Information Command Center, used to track and monitor live data and real-time crime.
She also received a body camera demonstration and saw how the Fayetteville Police Department has used and implemented their body cameras. The department started using body cams last December. The body cameras were paid for, in part, by a $530,000 grant from the U.S. Justice Department.
Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock told Lynch they would not have been able to purchase the cameras if it weren’t for the grant.
Lynch asked what kind of policies the department is using to store footage, saying many law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns about the amount of storage they have to keep video.
She also asked officers how the community has reacted to the body cameras. The officers told her they believe it increases trust between police and the community and it also has reduced complaints since officers are able to go back to the body camera footage and show what actually happened during a certain incident.
The visit brought Lynch to North Carolina shortly after she was highly critical of the state’s political leaders. ON May 9, Lynch blasted the state for House Bill 2, saying it “placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal law.”
She said the state “created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals.”
Lynch made the comments when announcing the Department of Justice had filed suit against North Carolina in the state’s Middle District. Earlier that same day, Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration sued the federal government in defense of the law.
While the House Bill 2 fight creates a dramatic backdrop for today’s visit, Lynch is coming to the state for a different reason.
The Department of Justice says the Fayetteville Police Department has done well improving community trust and implementing new technologies like surveillance and body cameras.
The DOJ says the department has made a lot of positive changes under Chief Harold Medlock, who was named police chief in 2013. The DOJ says the Fayetteville Police have embraced community policing.
Lynch has been outspoken about the rising tension between police and the community in many areas of the country.
“I think that what you have seen in some cities, and the resulting publicity, has highlighted some of the issues of tension, frustration, and negative relationships that have gone on for a while,” Lynch said.
Lynch will meet with Fayetteville leaders and the city’s youth advisory council. She’s also expected to hold a press conference at Fayetteville State University. WNCN.com plans to livestream the event.