LINDEN, NJ - Linden Chief of Police David Hart released a message to residents on Wednesday in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died at the hands of members of the Minneapolis Police Department.

The message, posted on the Linden Police Department Facebook page, addressed not only the tragic death of Floyd, but also addressed the current diversity within the department, its implemented training measures and community policing efforts.

Read the complete statement from Chief Hart below:

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Message from David R. Hart:

The senseless death of George Floyd while in police custody is horrific, tragic and criminal. As a Police Chief, and as a human being, I am appalled by how Mr. Floyd was treated, and I pray for his loved ones who, because of the circumstances of his death, are forced to witness it over and over again.

The video is painful to watch, and many in our community are, understandably, hurt and angry. There is no justification for a Police Officer to act with such callous disregard for human life; the actions of Officer Derek Chauvin, and the inaction of the Officers with him, ignore every value that we, the law enforcement community, believe in and swore to uphold.

George Floyd's death has also brought long-standing issues concerning the relationship between Police Officers and minorities, particularly within the African-American Community, back to the forefront. Every member of our community, regardless of race, creed, or color, should trust that the Police will treat them fairly; that is not the case, and we cannot continue to let that very important issue go unresolved. We welcome the very difficult and very real conversations that must happen to realize progress, but the violence and destruction seen in other cities across our country has no place in them. I ask all of our community to remain focused on the issues and join me in condemning these criminal acts.

Several years ago our own well-publicized failures necessitated a change in our culture; the Linden Police Department of today bears little resemblance to the Department of just a decade ago, and is unrecognizable as the Department I joined in 1985. We are more diverse, more professional, and more accountable than ever before, and I am very proud of the progress we have made.

In the years that followed we have developed one of the most progressive training programs in the state; Officers regularly receive enhanced, scenario-based use-of-force training, and more Linden Police Officers are trained in deescalation and crisis intervention than in any other department in Union County. We were the first department in Union County to implement widespread use of body worn cameras, and our Internal Affairs Unit has been recognized by the Union County Prosecutor's Office as a model across the county. The message is clear; we will not tolerate misconduct.

Community Policing is a cornerstone of our philosophy. Organized programs like our Youth Academy and Chaplain program exemplify that commitment, but the most significant impact is made with smaller, less formal interactions. Every Officer is encouraged to create conditions that foster open communication and partnership with residents, students, businesses, and community and faith-based organizations. We do not exist in a vacuum, and our partners have been instrumental in our ability to identify and respond to issues throughout the City.

As Chief of Police, I vow that the Linden Police Department will always be willing to participate in meaningful dialogue. We will continue to promote equality, tolerance, and empathy in our community through our every action, and I call upon all of our community to report any Officer who acts contrary to these values; you deserve better, and we expect better.

Respectfully,

David R. Hart
Chief of Police.

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