We are deeply troubled by the events in Minneapolis and the death of George Floyd. The behaviors displayed by the ex-police officers involved in his death are inexcusable. The Bowling Green Police Division and the Bowling Green City Administration strongly condemn the action and inaction of the ex-officers that were present. Bowling Green Police Officers hold the protection of life as their primary responsibility. In Minneapolis, the ex-officers failed in that responsibility and their leadership failed in its responsibility to properly discipline, train and supervise the officers. Humanity, a heart for service, protecting individual rights and justice were so blatantly absent in the death of George Floyd that any meaningful statement seems inadequate. As leaders in the Bowling Green community, it is incumbent upon us to remember George Floyd and to make certain that we are doing everything in our power to protect the rights of all persons in our community.
Outlining the training, policy and procedures that the Bowling Green Police Division follows and maintains to ensure that something like this never happens in Bowling Green could certainly be done; however, doing so is likely not enough to comfort or assuage citizens’ concerns over the state of policing in our nation. The Bowling Green Police Division and the City Administration have had an ongoing dialogue as a staff regarding policing polices and commit ourselves to actively engage in community conversations with a willingness and an interest in identifying ways that we can make Bowling Green better.
The Bowling Green Police Division is an internationally accredited law enforcement agency. The BGPD has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 1993. The Police Division will undergo an onsite assessment by the commission this July and there will be an opportunity for community input during a scheduled public hearing and call in session. As an accredited agency, the BGPD is required to establish policy and procedures addressing issues such as implicit bias, ethics, victim advocacy, and verbal de-escalation among others as well as adhere to rigorous training standards to ensure officers meet those standards on an on-going basis. The Police Division is also required to continually review policies and procedures to ensure they continue to meet the high standards of our community. As part of this, citizens may voice concerns and offer recommendations through an ongoing survey process established online at http://www.bowlinggreenpolice.org/?page_id=108.
The City of Bowling Green – including our Police Division – fully support peaceful protest and the constitutional rights of citizens to openly express their concerns. This stance was demonstrated and reinforced by our actions in supporting and helping the organizers of the protest that occurred on May 31. The two of us along with the Municipal Administrator, Lori Tretter, spent the weekend leading up to the protest talking with the organizer to ensure the City could support their efforts and that the demonstration was peaceful and safe. A large measure of credit should be given to the organizers of the event, who demonstrated an interest in, and a commitment to, bringing people together in a safe way.
Now is the time for us as a nation, as a community, and for all of us as individuals to follow our conscience and live up to our values and to defend our constitution that guarantees equal rights for ALL people. We must speak with one voice, that hate and prejudice of any kind have no place here. This sentiment and our character as a community was demonstrated during the protest on May 31.