HAWTHORNE, NJ - Chief of Police Richard McAuliffe released a video address to the borough of Hawthorne on Thursday. A transcription of his speech is provided here.
Good evening, everyone.
The last few months have been very trying for our community and our country. Since early March, we've seen the onset of coronavirus and what it can do to our families and loved ones. Americans have stood strong and faced it head-on. Businesses were closed, residents were ordered to stay home but they turned to the positive. We watched Americans gather in support of our essential workers.
We were close to coming to the end of the road when a light switch went off on May 25th. George Floyd was unnecessarily killed while in police custody at the hands of a few officers in Minneapolis. Since then, we have seen our country implode with peaceful and, at times, unruly protests. Residents in New Jersey and America want answers. Americans need answers, they want change, but most definitely they demand and deserve justice.
The use of force or being biased to anyone is not tolerated by me or any members of our department. In over ten years I have been in some leadership capability, as a captain overseeing the Internal Affairs Bureau and almost eight years as police chief, this department has had no excessive force complaints or biased incident complaints filed against any officer in this department. We have had no lawsuits alleging any kind of abuse by a police officer to any resident or to any person who has traveled into this borough. That tells you about the integrity, morale, and character of the men and women who work and serve this community.
The best thing you can have are key values and key ideals. The New Jersey Attorney General has had the toughest standards with excellence of policing since his onset. Last year his initiative began with professionalism, accountability, and transparency as his major keys to the best practices of policing and good community relationships.
What else is key, as the mayor said, are training and education. Our officers are not only trained at the highest level of crisis intervention training, how to de-escalate, they're also instructors. More than half of our department has been trained and has been asked to come back to instruct for some kind of crisis intervention, dealing with mental illness, dealing with the public, and how to de-escalate something that might turn ugly down the road.
Our measures in are place to avoid tragedies. We have policies that have to be reviewed, we have what we call "administrative reviews"--any time there is a use of force, a bias incident, a police officer has an accident with a police car--it has to be reviewed by the highest level command staff member and turned over to internal affairs for additional review.
I believe in the Constitution and I especially believe in the First Amendment. The freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government are key factors. I believe the people need to speak and assemble, have their words heard, and be listened to.
If you want to speak, call me. If you want to walk, I'll walk with you. But don't create violent situations where Americans can get hurt and property could get damaged. I've never judged a book by its cover. I look at the material that's inside and the content within. I've never mentioned race or creed during this conversation because it shouldn't matter. Americans are one and we should all stand as one. Don't judge someone by their uniform with the thought of four officers in Minneapolis. Thank you very much.
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