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Apr 21

Derek Chauvin Conviction

Posted on April 21, 2021 at 11:57 AM by June Lemos

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April 21, 2021

I do not voice my thoughts or even opinions on political or policy issues very often. As City Manager, my role is to implement the policy direction and programs that the City Council establishes, after all they are the individuals elected by the voters. That said, I do feel the need to say something about the verdict announced yesterday that found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Listening to the testimony as it was reported by the media in various news outlets, and having watched the original videos and listened to the audio of the death, I certainly was not surprised. However, what I saw that was different in this trial was the number of law enforcement officials who spoke out before, during and after the trial with bold statements condemning Chauvin and his actions.

There is a cultural shift within law enforcement. Police departments are para-military organizations where structure and chain of command are primary protocol in how police departments operate. The response to Floyd was different within law enforcement. It not only indicates the change from within the law enforcement establishment but it empowers officers at all levels to speak up when things are not right and to hold each other accountable. I believe our Fort Bragg officers embrace this way of thinking and I want to assure them that they are empowered to speak up and voice their concerns when things are not right within or outside our organization.

I know that some see support for Black Lives Matter or changes in policing as black and white or for or against police. I don’t. I believe you can support good and just law enforcement, encourage it and embrace it at the same time you ask for or even demand change. I do not believe that defunding police is an answer. I believe the answer is changing the way we police by providing support from mental health, social services and emergency medical treatment, which allows officers to do their job - which is to protect all of us.