Like many of you, I watched the videos that captured the murder of George Floyd and I asked myself repeatedly why this officer did this.
There was no excusing his actions and the lack of action from the other officers. All the different angles from the different footage pointed to that officer being completely in the wrong.
I want our community to know the incidents that occurred in these other cities do not represent our department. The Frankfort Police Department has been working with our community for several years trying to build better relationships. It has been my focus to continue building on those relationships, and personally to have a better understanding of what minority communities go through.
This past semester I had the opportunity to teach my first course for Kentucky State University and I saw in my discussions with my students the distrust that they have in the criminal justice system, not just the police, but the courts and corrections too. We have to work to find solutions.
Speaking of KSU, last month we renewed an Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the University to participate in an after-school program that they host called “Please Call Me Mister” for minority youth.
Here are some of the things that we are already doing and will be implementing. The police department has been taking part in the Implicit Bias training when offered by KSU the last couple of years. We have also been involved in discussions hosted by FORR (Focus on Race Relations) with Ed Powe. This has all been eye-opening. We continue to train on communication, de-escalation and crisis intervention.
Our policies (including our use of force policy) are reviewed regularly to make sure they are considered best practices, and to make sure people are being treated fairly and with respect. Each use of force is documented and reviewed up the chain of command. We just recently started participating in the FBI’s newly created national database for police use of force.
The issuance of body cameras will continue over the next month. I hope that this will continue to build trust with our community. The policies are clear when officers must use them, taking into account privacy when necessary.
One of my primary focuses since being hired is in the recruitment, hiring and retention of minority members of our community. We have only had one hiring process since my promotion to police chief. I have asked for changes in our hiring process in an attempt to not let good applicants sit waiting for the next hiring process, only for them to find jobs somewhere else. Those ordinance changes should be in place in the next couple of months. Along with this, we also offer internships to students from KSU.
We are working to host our next Citizen’s Police Academy in the fall. The CPA allows citizens to see the internal workings of the police department and meet several of our officers.
This is just some of the ways that we are trying to work with all of our community to build relationships and an understanding of where the problems are. I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to have the tough discussions to find solutions.
Chuck Adams is police chief of the Frankfort Police Department. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org