“After a year of trauma, pain, and unrest, justice has finally been served in the murder of George Floyd. Today, a jury of his peers found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts – guilty for his actions which shocked and angered people across the world when they were captured on video last June.
It is important to acknowledge that the verdict rendered in this trial does not alleviate the pain caused to George Floyd’s family, friends, or community, nor does it bring him back to this Earth to be with them again. Still, the administration of justice is a vitally important component of American life and civil society, one which for far too long has favored some and systematically disadvantaged others. This verdict created sunshine where there was none and was a transparent display that no one is above the law.
That said, we share the nation’s feeling of gratification that Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for the murder of George Floyd. For nine minutes he knelt on the neck of unarmed Black man, an act which we watched in horror as it was posted online and repeatedly played on television. The trauma caused to the African American community by that video, by Derek Chauvin’s actions, can never be fully healed. Still, perhaps his being held to account will help to bring closure to this horrific event.
After George Floyd’s murder last year, we felt the all too familiar pain that comes from watching another in a seemingly unending line of tragedies, tragedies that continue to occur while little is done to address them.
In Camden County, we have worked to build a police department, and a culture within the agency, anchored in the sanctity of human life – no one person’s wellbeing or life is more important than another and all life is important. We train officers to ensure that the use of force is always a last resort and if force is used it will immediately be reviewed by a supervisor during the officer’s shift. Furthermore, we have officers that travel around the nation teaching de-escalation tactics to other departments and we know that time and space is imperative to resolving issues peacefully. In addition, in 2019, we codified the duty to intervene in our use of force policy, meaning if an officer is not following protocols and procedures their colleagues need to step in to stop it or accept culpability for the other officer’s actions. These progressive policies ensure we will never put someone’s life in danger the way Chauvin did. In short, our officers are guardians and not warriors.
It is our hope that today’s verdict finally begins the process of holding individuals accountable and brings us closer to the reforms necessary to make policing in America work for all Americans.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Floyd family, the Minneapolis community, and Americans across the country who have been forced to relive this tragic piece of history over the course of this trial.”