Mayor David Anderson, City Manager Jim Ritsema, and Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas have released the following statement regarding the death of George Floyd and the events that have followed in Minneapolis:
"The heartbreaking use of force incident in Minneapolis by those sworn to protect and serve has shocked the conscience. There may be more information yet available, but the videos we have seen make it clear the actions and inactions of the officers involved were unacceptable. We must be willing to denounce actions that are wrong to continue to build trust within our communities and create a more equitable and just future.
This latest tragedy, and other recent events nationally, have caused many to question the commitment, training and dedication of our local law enforcement. Kalamazoo’s Public Safety Officers are trained to treat all individuals, whether suspect, witness or complainant, with dignity and respect. It is a core principle of police legitimacy and procedural justice, areas in which we continually train our officers. Utilizing ideologies of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Program (EDIP), Kalamazoo Public Safety is committed to promoting positive police-citizen interactions. Their service to our community is purpose-driven to developing mutual trust, respect and understanding both internally and externally. We know that policing in Kalamazoo requires a partnership between the community and its officers.
Kalamazoo Public Safety strives to employ officers who are compassionate, empathetic and brave enough to tackle the enormous challenges they face daily. They are trained in de-escalation techniques to have the safest outcomes, for citizens and officers, to resolve situations. The oversight and systems in place allow for the tracking and monitoring to address issues, whether through training or discipline. Kalamazoo Public Safety is currently in the process of Police Accreditation to ensure national best practices and up-to-date policies.
We are proud of the work and improvements we’ve made here in Kalamazoo through a commitment to working together. We also know that there is much more work to do.
We understand the need and the right to protest and urge for those voices to be heard in a peaceful manner. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and all that have been impacted by this tragic event."