SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Ted Conley, Chief of Scotch Plains Police Department, and Chief Richard Trigo of the Fanwood Police Department have issued a joint statement to condemn the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
We are writing this statement to the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood to announce our official condemnation of the actions of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and watched while Chauvin knelt on Mr. George Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness and ultimately died. We have watched that video from multiple angles, and cannot find one single justification for why any individual, in handcuffs, not resisting, is put in the prone position with an officer kneeling with his full weight on his neck, for nearly 9 minutes!
Neither of us have ever been part of, been witness too, nor given approval for any kind of training that would authorize a tactic such as this to be used by any of our officers. We fully agree with the arrest and charges that were put on Derek Chauvin, and anticipate that the other officers who stood by and did nothing to offer assistance to Mr. Floyd, will also find themselves being charged, as they should be.
The members of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments have made many strides in an effort to build a trusting relationship between the residents and visitors to our towns. We, along with every other police department in Union County, under the direction of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, have implemented a body-worn camera program where all of our patrol officers and other officers who are in contact with the public must wear a body worn camera and record all encounters with members of the public.
For every incident that involves a use of force, the video and reports are reviewed by the Platoon Commander and then by the Division Commander to make sure that the proper use of force was used and that no more force than that which was necessary was used. We also have our commanding officers randomly review videos for every one of the officers that serve in their command. We have used this to make sure that the Commanding Officers know what their officers are doing on a daily basis and also use several of the videos as training tools if we find an officer doing something contrary to the accepted practices of either of our departments. This program offers even more transparency between our officers and the members of the public that we serve.
All of the officers in New Jersey also must have Use of Force, Biased Incident, and Racially Influenced Policing training on an annual basis. Over the last three years, Fair and Impartial Policing was implemented and all officers in Union County have had to participate in this training to make sure that policing is done on an even and fair basis for all.
We both meet with the members of the Ministerium on a monthly basis to keep open lines of communication at all times with the leaders of the Houses of Worship in our communities as well as other township leaders. We also meet with the group Social Justice Matters in an effort to improve the race relations between members of our communities and members of our police departments. We have improved upon our community policing efforts by implementing the Cops and Kids program where officers from both Scotch Plains and Fanwood and the school children from both communities get to interact on a fun level and build relationships that last a lifetime with our officers. We also have a very strong LEAD program, (that took the place of DARE), to keep building on the positive relationships between the young members of our communities and our officers.
These, along with several other programs and activities that our officers have participated in over the last several years, are a great foundation for a very strong relationship that we have built with the members of our communities. We hope that the horrific actions taken by Derek Chauvin and the other Minneapolis officers do not destroy the relationship that has taken us years to build. We feel that we have to let the Justice System take its course and that ultimately justice will be served to the Floyd family and to all who have felt betrayed and let down by incidents such as these.
We are asking all of the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood to not let the strong relationship that we have built over several years to be destroyed by the completely horrific and inexcusable actions of Minneapolis police officer Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and watched without having the common human decency, not to mention the official duty to act, to come to the aid of Mr. George Floyd and save his life, which they and all law enforcement officers have taken an oath to do. We truly understand the pain that many members of our communities feel after bearing witness to the horrible way that Mr. George Floyd’s life was taken from him.
We, and the members of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments, completely and wholeheartedly condemn the actions of Derek Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and did nothing. We welcome the opportunity to meet with the public to continue to foster relationships between the police and public we serve.
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