Sheriff Lott: Extremists on both sides " don't want people to get along"

Published: Jul. 9, 2016 at 4:43 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As events in Dallas unfolded overnight on Thursday, many took to social media to stake out positions and assign blame for the violence.

Some commenters accused members of the Black Lives Matter movement and even President Obama of failing to understand and even working to undermine police. Others said officers for decades have been too quick to use deadly force against minorities and are rarely punished.

Here in the Midlands, law enforcement leaders said the two sides can and have to find common ground.

"You have extremists on both sides. And those extremists on both sides don't want people to get along," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "They don't want law enforcement and the community to get along. That is a small minority of the people. The majority of the people they want to work together with law enforcement. They want to stop some of the bad things that we've got going on and if it's a bad police shooting or somebody's killing cops the majority of people don't want that to happen and the majority of law enforcement don't want that to happen either."

Sheriff Lott and Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook issued a joint statement saying their departments have both been working to strengthen communication and relationships with their communities.

They say they're making progress in re-evaluating use of force policies and training officers to de-escalate dangerous situations.

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