The members of a presidential policing task force cochaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey spoke for the first time in a teleconference Monday - laying the groundwork for a report that they expect to present to President Obama in the spring.
The meeting came two days after two New York City police officers were shot and killed in their patrol car, and one day after Obama called Ramsey on Sunday to express outrage over the deaths and emphasize "the urgency of the task force's work," the commissioner said in an interview.
After several high-profile police-involved killings and widespread protests against them, Obama appointed Ramsey to head the Task Force on 21st Century Policing this month. Its goal is to help police departments improve relationships with the communities they serve.
"While in some communities we have good relationships, there are other communities where there is a great deal of tension," Ramsey said Monday.
He said the task force would touch on issues including police training, use of force, police oversight, and building trust in communities - and plans to solicit input from the public as well as experts on policing "so we have a good understanding of what needs to be done."
Ramsey said he spoke with the president for about 10 minutes on Sunday, and they discussed the shootings in New York.
"It's a tragedy," Ramsey said, one that will present a challenge to the task force.
"The task force," he said, "has its hands full in what needs to happen in a very short period of time - to get to the president a concrete recommendation."