Milwaukee police Chief Ed Flynn addressed President Barack Obama during a town hall on policing and race relations hosted Thursday night by ABC News.
Flynn said urban police chiefs in America are often judged by their ability to reduce crime rates in disadvantaged communities of color, but officers face a dilemma.
"It's an urban tragedy but the heart of the police dilemma is those neighborhoods that demand our services, need us the most, request us the most, depend upon on us the most, for social and historical reasons, distrust us," Flynn said.
Chief Flynn also asked President Obama if he could figure out a way to cross what Flynn called parallel conversations about the issues, without either side blaming the other.
"We have to work together. Everything that divides us, makes us more vulnerable," Flynn said.
In response, Mr. Obama acknowledged problems like high murder rates among African Americans in some cities, saying there needs to be a multifaceted solution.
"We can't put the burden on the police alone," said Mr. Obama.
Flynn also took aim at politicians for allowing easy access to guns.
"State legislators want to help us? Help us do something about guns," said Flynn.
"What was that man (in Dallas) doing with an assault rifle? I mean, fine, go to the funerals for the five cops, but how did that guy get that assault rifle and why could he walk down the street with it and then use it?" Flynn asked.
Flynn also asked the president to continue convening all sides of the issue.
"I don't think things are going to get enlightened during this election," said Flynn.
Flynn had some pointed and emotional words after police shot and killed African-American suspects in Louisiana and Minnesota, and after someone apparently independent of Black Lives Matters protesters shot and killed five law enforcement officers in Dallas.
"We recognized that African-Americans are over-represented in violent encounters with police," he said during a news conference last week.
But as he put it, "Black lives matter all the time. They matter when murdered by gang members...robbers...carjackers...when police officers lay their lives down in defense of them."
"It's about time the general so-called discussion of police conduct...takes into account the broader perspective of what takes place every day in this country in the urban centers," he added.