Like many Americans across this great nation, I was shocked and angered after watching the short video of Mr. George Floyd losing his life in such a horrific manner. I was deeply saddened and without words, I thought to myself that could be one of my sons or even me lying dead in the street. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Floyd’s family, friends, and community. As a career law enforcement professional, I was sickened by the actions of those Minneapolis Police officers. The resulting crisis exposes racism and injustice at its worst. The behavior of these officers and others like them has eroded the hard-won trust and relationships that many police officers and communities around the country have worked together for years to build. The truth is most police officers are honest and caring people, sworn to protect and serve. Likewise, it is disheartening to see the peaceful protest to honor Mr. Floyd evolve into mayhem and lawlessness with innocent people being injured and substantial property loss.
University Park is a very warm and welcoming community and the residents are an equal partner in all our community policing activities. I am glad to be part of a community that embraces and promotes diversity, fairness, and equality with open arms. The entire University Park Police Department is encouraged by your support and does not take it lightly. The men and women that make up the University Park Police are committed to professionalism and do not use, encourage, or condone the tactics displayed in the video from Minneapolis. We join the Town of University Park in treating everyone with dignity, respect, and civility and are committed to working with the community to provide compassionate policing. Our commitment to constitutional policing will not waiver and we will continue to employ de-escalation, implicit bias training, and the use of technology to improve transparency, accountability, and professional police service delivery. We will also continue to use our mission and the pillars of the report on 21st Century Policing as guiding principles to lead our department forward.
During the next month or so Mayor Carey and I will participate in Walking Wednesday, where we will walk around the town and meet with residents to have casual conversations about policing in today’s environment, the incident in Minneapolis or any other topic that you would like to talk about. So, if you happened to see us walking around the town, please feel free to join us.
These are very trying and turbulent times, but I am confident we will get through them by working together.
As always, I remain humble to serve.
Chief Harvey R. Baker