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Obama cautions against "anecdotal" conclusions about violent crime

President Obama addressed the International Association of Chiefs of Police at their annual conference in Chicago on Tuesday
President Obama reaffirms his support for nation's police officers 02:10

NEW YORK -- At a gathering of police chiefs in Chicago, President Obama cautioned against jumping to conclusions about why crime has spiked in some major cities.

FBI director: Rise in homicides in major cities could be linked to "reluctant" officers 01:48

"I reject any narrative that seeks to divide police and communities that they serve," Obama said."We do have to stick with the facts. What we can't do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas."

That statement appeared to be a response to FBI director James Comey who spoke at the same event yesterday.

"Some part of what's going on is likely a chill wind that has blown through law enforcement over the last year," Comey had said.

Comey suggested cell phone videos of deadly police encounters like the arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore could be making law enforcement pull back.

"Officers are reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime," Comey said.

The number of arrests in some cities is down. In Orlando, they have declined nearly 10 percent. In Minneapolis, more than 15 percent -- and in Baltimore there has been a 34-percent decrease in arrests. All three cities have seen an increase in homicides. In Baltimore -- murders are up more than 50 percent over last year.

Still -- James Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police says rank-and-file officers are offended by the FBI director's comments.

"Officers have enough stress on them as it is without their actions being second guessed or misinterpreted by high government officials," Pasco said.

The law enforcement community has had its disagreements with the Obama administration. But today, many of the president's comments were applauded.

He thanked the police today -- saying the country was safer for their efforts.

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