June 4th, 2020
To the Fairfax Community,
I have been struggling with the proper way to express my personal thoughts and feelings of sadness over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota who died at the hands of Police Officers. While I am not familiar with the policies and practices of agencies in Minnesota, I was confident that what I saw officers do was not an approved arrest technique. My assumptions were quickly confirmed when police officials said just that. My condolences go out to the entire Floyd family and all of those who are currently grieving.
I remain disgusted with what I saw. Common sense tells everyone this was wrong. This reflects poorly on all of us within the Law Enforcement Community. Officers in Minnesota restrained Mr. Floyd for upwards of 8 minutes. One officer held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck who pleaded with them repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. None of the officers interceded or changed their tactics. That was wrong. I have been a Police Officer for 37 years, having worked prior for the San Rafael Police and Oakland Police Departments. I have been involved in countless arrests where a person had to be restrained. I have never used such a technique nor seen any other officer do so. This is not how we are trained.
As a police supervisor and now Police Chief, I impart upon my officers to always treat everyone with the utmost respect, even those who may not be cooperative. All police contact, be it positive or negative, should end with all persons treated fairly with dignity and respect. During an arrest, we only use approved and trained tactics. We only use the amount of force necessary to complete that arrest and nothing more. I won’t stand for any mistreatment of anyone we encounter. I can assure you that my officers understand this as well and subscribe to my philosophy. Lieutenant Rico Tabaranza and I are meeting with each officer and having dialog on this topic. These conversations include the re-enforcement of our training tactics and what we expect of them here in the Fairfax community.
I have been asked countless times since this incident if the Fairfax Police Department has Body Worn Cameras. The answer is yes. With our Town Council’s support, these were funded and implemented in January, 2015. They capture all encounters officers have in just about every citizen contact and always capture every aspect of an individual’s arrest.
I understand the outrage and frustration with this and many other incidents and deaths that have occurred at the hands of Law Enforcement officers. I agree that there have been far too many of these incidents. I also know that the vast majority of our Law Enforcement officers across the nation are fine dedicated public servants trying to do the right thing. Tragic events such as this are disheartening. They are damaging to the Law Enforcement Community. Every negative incident sets us all back, and it takes far too much time to re-build trust in our communities.
I stand by all those who are peacefully protesting. Fairfax is a very unique community and I appreciate the opportunity to have worked here for the past 20 years, with the past 10 years as your Police Chief. We have a remarkable group of diverse men and women who are your officers, dispatchers and support staff. They come to work every day and make a positive impact in our community. As always, I thank you for your past and continued support of the entire Fairfax Police Department and me.
Christopher Morin, Chief of Police