Barack Obama .jpg
Photograph: EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

US President Barack Obama acknowledged that much hard work needs to be done to bridge the divide between police and minority communities in the wake of police shootings of black men and the slaying of five police officers in Dallas last week.

"We're not at a point yet where communities of colour feel confident that their police departments are serving them with dignity and respect and equality," Obama said Wednesday after meeting with representatives from police groups, community leaders and protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement.

"And we're not at the point yet where police departments feel adequately supported at all levels," he said.

The meeting is part of efforts this week by Obama to address the issue after two high-profile shootings by police of black men last week followed by a sniper attack on police in Dallas that left five officers dead. The black gunman in Dallas expressed anger at police brutality and said he wanted to kill white police officers.

Obama first convened similar meetings after violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri two years ago was sparked by the killing of a black man by police officers. He repeated calls after that earlier examination of police violence for more steps to reassure communities that they would be treated fairly, better training for police and improved collection of data about incidents.

The meeting came one day after Obama attended a memorial service in Dallas for the five slain police officers and called on America to unite in the face of tragedy despite the exposure of racial divisions.

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