The police memorial service Tuesday with President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush is an opportunity for unity in Dallas as the city grieves over the murders of five police officers, Mayor Mike Rawlings said Monday.
The current and former presidents are scheduled to attend the Meyerson Symphony Center event to pay respects to the officers killed last week.
"President Bush and President Obama together shows a real sign of unity, and I believe that if they set the right tone, that will cascade in a really positive fashion," Rawlings said. "This will be a chance for us all to look ourselves in the eye and say we can do better."
In an exclusive interview with NBC 5 Monday, Rawlings said he believes healing for Dallas means improved mutual respect between police and the community.
The shootings occurred after a Black Lives Matter rally Thursday night. Rawlings said Dallas Police have already accomplished substantial reform in recent years to reduce use of deadly force.
"I'm proud of our police officers for being so professional, and that's why it's so ironic and doubly painful to know that the ones who have been doing the best ended up on the short end of the stick," Rawlings said.
Dallas police also complain about low pay and poor morale. Many officers have left recently for better paying jobs. Rawlings said pay and benefit improvements were already under view by city leaders.
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"All those things are being taken very seriously, but it's got to start with citizens respecting them, the media respecting them, folks in the pulpit respecting them. Those are the things that need to change," Rawlings said.
The mayor said he was informed in advance of Police Chief David Brown's decision early Friday for the first-ever use of a military-style robot to deliver a bomb to kill the shooter who refused to surrender.
"I supported him 100-percent and in hindsight believe it was a great decision to make because no other police officers were hurt, no other civilians were hurt, and this man was not surprised by it. He had a choice," Rawlings said.
Funeral services for the five murdered officers are planned this week.