As the sixth day of protests following George Floyd’s death at hands of a Minneapolis police officer continue, local law enforcement officials say they have faith the justice system will produce a just outcome for Floyd and his family.
Peaceful protests were marred by violence over the weekend — including looting and fires in the District last night. Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and fired after a viral video shows the officer holding his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes on Memorial Day. Three other officers involved in the incident were also fired.
The incident prompted Fairfax County Police Department Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. to reflect on ongoing challenges that erode the public’s trust in law enforcement.
“We shall have faith the local and federal justice systems will navigate toward justice for the Floyd family, the communities impacted, and our entire nation. However, we must be mindful there is a healing process where righteous anger needs to be constructively exercised through the right to free speech,” Roessler Jr. wrote.
Roessler noted that FCPD’s community policing efforts and collaborations with the community have helped the department operate in a transparent and accountable manner.
“Fairfax County is blessed to have a highly engaged community which helps our Police Department transparently use a co-production of policing philosophy to ensure our hiring processes, training, policies, and internal and external accountability systems are meeting the expectations of the highest levels of standards by our community served and the law enforcement profession,” he said.
Here’s more from the chief on FCPD’s community engagement efforts:
During the last few trying days and today, I’ve personally networked with our community advocates to ensure they have access to their Chief and the senior law enforcement leaders of the Department to create robust dialogue to understand the awful events that have unfolded recently throughout our country as we need to increase our conversations about the erosion of the public’s trust for law enforcement as we continue to observe the disproportionately of the deaths of our African American community members. As a reminder, we have updated our use of force policies over the years using the co-production of policing model, vetted our policies and training through the Public Safety Committee, and we continue to leverage the partnerships created with community members who were part of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission. Additionally, we are grateful for the external accountability measures from the Police Civilian Review Panel, the Independent Police Auditor, the voluntary submission to both state and national accreditation agencies, and the periodic independent reviews of our lines of business by academic institutions.
“We continue to pray for Mr. Floyd’s family as individuals, a Police Department, and as a community who all collectively value the sanctity of all human life,” he added.
Herndon Police Department’s Police Chief Maggie DeBoard also said she hopes the community will continue to trust HPD.
“It is only through honest and open dialogue, clear minds, and peaceful protest can we continue to make positive steps forward to ensure an incident of this nature never happens again,” DeBoard wrote in a statement yesterday (Sunday).
DeBoard said the actions that took the life of Floyd “showed a complete lack of humanity, one not previously witnessed in my 34-year career.” The incident has left police officers “deeply struggling about our profession,” she said.
Here’s more from DeBoard’s note to the community:
These communities need hope, not destruction, more loss of life, and loss of their livelihoods. This is not the path towards healing or problem solving. It only creates additional barriers and fear at a time when peace and clear minds are so needed.
Please know that all of us at HPD care deeply about our entire community, as well as the effect this incident has had on your relationship with us. We pray that the trust you have instilled in us over the past 8 years that I have been blessed to serve as your Chief, remains strong. It is only through honest and open dialogue, clear minds, and peaceful protest can we continue to make positive steps forward to ensure an incident of this nature never happens again.
Our hearts and prayers go out to George Floyd’s family and to all of those first responders working the front lines trying desperately to protect their communities and its citizens from further harm.
Photo via FCPD