Message from Chief Cherie Harris:
In light of the tragic in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I wanted to speak directly to our community. On Thursday, May 28 I shared a message with all of the officers of the Kirkland Police Department. I encouraged them, as difficult as it might be, to view the video footage of the event. I told them that as police officers we need to see Mr. Floyd’s calls for help and hear him say repeatedly that he cannot breathe, because we must face this tragedy head-on. As law enforcement, we cannot pretend that what happens in Minneapolis doesn’t cast a shadow on all of us.
All officers of the Kirkland Police Department have sworn an oath, “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution and the community I serve…” I was especially disheartened by the officers who stood by and did nothing. I’m proud to say that on numerous instances I’ve heard Kirkland officers holding each other accountable and doing what is right, as they have sworn to do. I promise you that I will continue to foster the culture of accountability that exists within our department.
Each of our officers puts themselves in harm’s way every day, they have a right to go home, unharmed to their loved ones. That also means ensuring that when they use force that “no reasonable alternative to the use of force appeared to exist and that the amount of force used was reasonable to effect the lawful purpose intended”. These aren’t just words we memorize in the Academy, but words we live by. Every officer in our department completes ongoing de-escalation and mental health training. Our officers receive, on average, 20 hours per year of violence de-escalation and mental health training. Annual training consists of two days of skills training in de-escalation, including crisis intervention, verbal de-escalation, and physical de-escalation. These skills are then applied in a full day of live scenario training. However, with all this said, I know that this is not enough. In order to serve our community in the way we are committed to, and the way Kirkland deserves, we must also actively pursue open and honest dialogue with all members of our community, and we must be willing to have difficult conversations in order to build relationships of trust. We must act on what we learn. We know this is hard work, and we are committed.
I am proud of our Kirkland police officers. I grieve for the family and friends of George Floyd. I grieve for the people of Minneapolis. In Kirkland, we are committed to doing our part to heal our nation and to bring honor to our profession. Today that means that we stand together to denounce the actions that led to the death of George Floyd.