The following letter was written by UWPD Chief Kristen Roman, on behalf of the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association:
Dane County Community Members,
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. 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. Regardless of further information that may be discovered in this case, nothing can justify the actions or inactions of these officers. 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 our law enforcement community in Dane County or the vast majority of the 600,000 or so officers in this country. Simply put, their actions were reprehensible and inexcusable. Incidents like these undermine both public trust in police and can shake our own faith and belief that those who have taken our oath will uphold their promise – our promise. As leaders of law enforcement agencies throughout Dane County, the members of the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association share in your dismay and grief.
We have worked hard here in Dane County for many years to build trust with our communities of color. In the aftermath of Ferguson, 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.
We’re proud of the work we’ve done and the improvements we’ve made here in Dane County. But as we take steps forward locally with our efforts, we see incidents like the one in Minneapolis set us 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.
We the members of the Dane County Chiefs of Police Association rededicate ourselves to this work and together with our community we mourn the death of George Floyd. Our thoughts are with his family and everyone else who has been impacted by this horrific incident.
President, Dane County Chiefs of Police Association
Chief of Police, UW-Madison Police Department