The Dane County Chiefs of Police Association (DCCOPA) released a statement Thursday, May 28, strongly condemning the use of force by Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man Monday, May 25.
“Once again, we find ourselves devastated by an appalling and heartbreaking use of force incident that has resulted in those we have sworn to protect and serve fearing for their own safety at the hands of those whose duty it is to keep them safe,” according to the statement issued by Kristen Roman, president of the DCCOPA of chief of police for the UW-Madison Police Department. “While we have yet to gain all available information about the incident that took place in Minneapolis on Monday, the videos we’ve seen are abundantly clear. What more do we need to see or know to conclude that the actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were heinous and unacceptable?”
Police responded to a call about someone trying to pass a potentially counterfeit bill and arrested Floyd. Cellphone video shows a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck despite protests from onlookers and Floyd telling police he could not breathe. When the officer removed his knee, Floyd’s body was limp. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“Regardless of further information that may be discovered in this case, nothing can justify the actions or inactions of these officers,” Roman said. “If someone calls for help, it is our duty to help. When struggling with someone we are attempting to arrest who tells us they cannot breathe, we are trained to reposition them and offer relief. And while there were moral and tactical shortcomings here, there exists the added weight in the knowledge that these occurred in the all-too-often context of police victimizing an unarmed person of color – sadly, an unsurprising tragedy.”
The actions of the Minneapolis officers in this incident do not represent the values, policies, or training of law enforcement community in Dane County or the vast majority of the 600,000 or so officers in this country, Roman said
“Simply put, their actions were reprehensible and inexcusable,” she said.
Monona city officials followed up later in the day with their own statement shared by the Monona Police Department.
“The city of Monona and the Monona Police Department join numerous other Dane County communities in support of DCCOPA’s strong denunciation of this incident and the underlying methods used which led to a tragic and unnecessary loss of life,” the statement read. “We remain committed to creating an environment of trust and empathy in all our interactions between the public and our peace officers. It is a mantle that we undertake with great understanding of how our actions impact those that we are charged to serve and protect.”
Roman said Dane County law enforcement agencies have worked hard for years to build trust with minority communities.
“In the aftermath of Ferguson (Missouri in 2014), local law enforcement leaders and leaders of color came together to form the United Way Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration aimed at proactively addressing these trust gaps and working together to create strategies designed to improve the relationships and outcomes between law enforcement and communities of color,” she said.
Roman said despite the forward steps taken, incidents like the one in Minneapolis set local efforts back.
“We understand that a statement such as this is not an adequate remedy and we know that we have much more work to do,” she said.