Body cameras will be in use at the Frankfort Police Department by the end of the month.
Police Chief Charles Adams made the announcement during a Frankfort City Commission meeting Monday night.
Adams was asked to share what policies and training initiatives are already in place regarding use of force and anti-bias training in light of the recent Black Lives Matter march in Frankfort on Friday and other marches around the state and country.
“We want the community to know that we are continuously working to serve our whole community,” Adams said. “I watched all the videos I could find on the George Floyd murder. And that’s what it was. Just trying to figure out why. Why did that officer act that way? Why did those other officers not do something? There’s no excuse for it.”
On May 25, George Floyd, of Minneapolis, died in police custody after being accused of passing a $20 counterfeit bill at a grocery store.
The video of a white police officer pinning Floyd, who was handcuffed, to the ground with his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck went viral. For nearly nine minutes, Floyd told the officer, “I can’t breathe,” until he eventually lost consciousness and died.
The death sparked protests all over the world last week as supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement advocated for justice for black Americans unlawfully killed by police while raising awareness about racism. Frankfort held its own Black Lives Matter march on Friday.
“I want our community to know that these incidents and these things that have happened in other places don’t represent our department,” Adams said.
The police chief said he and his officers have been working hard to improve their relationship with the community.
“It’s been a focus of mine to continue building on these relationships and personally to have a better understanding of what minority communities go through,” Adams said. “I’ll admit, I don’t understand. I don’t know.”
Adams said within the last year while teaching a course at Kentucky State University, he learned through discussions with his students about the distrust many of them feel toward law enforcement, the court system and the prison system.
Training-wise, Adams said the police department has been participating in implicit bias training at KSU.
“It’s eye-opening,” Adams said.
The police department also trains officers on de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention to avoid possibly deadly outcomes. Adams said he and others at the department and the city look at policies regularly to make sure they’re up to date.
“Honestly, I look at the states that say they’re enacting new laws or new policies and I’m confused on why those aren’t already in place,” Adams said. “I don’t understand it. Each use of force is documented and it’s reviewed. It goes all the way up to me so we can identify problems if there are any.”
According to Adams, the police department is participating in a program at KSU called “Please Call me Mister,” which works with at-risk and minority youth.
Adams said he hopes to have a police force that represents what the community looks like. He said he is working with City Solicitor Laura Ross to make the application process to become a police officer more accessible.