US President Barack Obama offered praise for America’s embattled police chiefs Tuesday, appearing before them to smooth ties strained amid recent racial tensions.

Voicing thanks for the role that cops play in keeping America safe, Obama eulogized a New York cop killed in the line of duty and called for police to have adequate resources.

“I want to start by saying on behalf of the American people, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Obama said. “This country is safer because of your efforts.”

Obama’s address comes as the deaths of a string of black men in police custody has inflamed tensions in cities across the United States, leading to accusations of police brutality and racism.