Law enforcement agency leaders throughout Kitsap County have penned a letter excoriating the actions of Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd earlier this week.
A viral video of the incident shows one officer with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck. In the video, Floyd can be heard begging officers to let him breathe. Before the end of the video, Floyd appears to lose consciousness and later died.
In the letter, released Friday, chiefs from six departments in Kitsap County condemned the actions of the officers involved in the incident and also commended the department’s chief for swiftly firing the involved officers.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
To our community members throughout Kitsap County,
The death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis is indefensible. As law enforcement professionals who have dedicated our careers to serving others, it sickens us to watch the video.
As law enforcement officers, we take an oath to perform our duties in a lawful, professional and competent manner. This includes:
• Exercising restraint,
• Providing prompt medical attention to those exhibiting signs of distress and,
• Interceding when observing a fellow officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is reasonable under the circumstances.
That didn’t happen in Minneapolis. A man needlessly lost his life because of the actions of one police officer and the inaction of his partners. When we fail in our duty, we expect to be held accountable. We commend Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo for his appropriate and immediate action in terminating the involved officers.
We want our community to know that communication with our officers is important and as we discuss George Floyd’s death with our officers and deputies, the range of their emotions have gone from shock to embarrassment to outrage. They recognize the impact that an incident 1,700 miles away can have on our local community’s perception of their law enforcement officers here at home.
Kitsap County law enforcement is committed to building trust through community engagement. We’ve joined with Bremerton Unit 1134 of the NAACP in the Community-Law Enforcement dinner, an event which brings great understanding between the community and the law enforcement officers. We also participate in the Police and Community Together (P.A.C.T.) forum, hosted by Mt. Zion Baptist Church. At P.A.C.T, community members and law enforcement officers sit together to have hard conversations about important topics like Mr. Floyd’s death, police training and tactics.
As law enforcement leaders, it is our job to put systems in place that give our communities a professional law enforcement service they can trust to treat them fairly and rely on in times of need. We do that by establishing sound policies, setting clear expectations for conduct and training our officers on the appropriate use of force, de-escalation and bias awareness.
— Chief Joe Clark, Bainbridge Island Police Department; Chief Jim Burchett, Bremerton Police Department; Sheriff Gary Simpson, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office; Chief Matt Brown, Port Orchard Police Department; Chief Dan Schoonmaker, Poulsbo Police Department; Chief Mike Lasnier, Suquamish Police Department.