Edit: Added links at the bottom to information about Rochester Police Policies.
This post is largely to serve as an acknowledgement that I don’t have the answers, nor do I have a plan. I have seen far too many people of color murdered by privileged whites and police. People are right to be angry. The Minneapolis Police Department is particularly bad. I have said for years that any organization that would elect a racist like Bob Kroll to represent them; should not continue to exist. Looks like that will finally happen. I will leave the comments section open below.
I see concerns in our community. I could tell story after story of good work and genuine caring for the community that have come from local officers. I personally know many of our officers and they have a deep love for Rochester and the people who live here. I have also seen some ugly things that were handled to varying degrees of what I thought was appropriate.
I also need to be honest with the community and acknowledge that I am not an expert on public safety. I have often looked to Mark Bilderback on these issue. He taught me about community led policing and crime prevention through environmental design. I have some particular skill in finance & infrastructure. That is where I spend most of my time.
Ultimately I want the community to decide what our Police Department looks like. I am open to suggestions. I encourage people to send me your ideas.
In Rochester, the Police Chief answers to the Mayor directly. The Council must approve the annual budget. I do want to let you know that I continue to try to read and respond to every note and call I receive.
We did create a police policy oversight commission. If there are policies that we need to change, I think this is a time for review.
We have changed our hiring practices. While change will take time, newer classes are far more reflective of the community.
I want to acknowledge that these issues also exist in Rochester. I also want to acknowledge that the previous mayor used “pulling a Kaepernick” as a derogatory phrase aimed and Nick Campion & I for trying to end the practice of unrecorded dinner meetings. He went on to sit on a jury that acquitted a white man who retrieved a gun from a car and killed a black man at point blank range. He was the head of our Police Department for 16 years. I want to acknowledge that many in law enforcement, including our sheriff, can’t bring themselves to acknowledge that George Floyd was murdered by 4 police officers. Edit: I will update this to say our Sheriff is now rightfully referring to George Floyd’s death as a murder.
So I am listening, I am angry too, I will continue to march, I will be accessible, I am open to rebuilding our systems for the benefit of all in our community.
I believe that #BlackLivesMatter and I want #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.