Chatham’s law enforcement leaders respond to Minnesota man’s death

Posted 6/5/20

The leaders of Chatham’s three major law enforcement agencies — the Pittsboro Police Department, Siler City Police Department and Chatham County Sheriff’s Office — followed other …

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Chatham’s law enforcement leaders respond to Minnesota man’s death

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The leaders of Chatham’s three major law enforcement agencies — the Pittsboro Police Department, Siler City Police Department and Chatham County Sheriff’s Office — followed other organizations across the country in releasing statements in response to the death last week of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Derek Chauvin, an 18-year veteran of the Minnesota Police Department, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, an incident which has sparked protests across the nation.

Several video recordings show Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old lay pinned to the ground in handcuffs during his May 25 arrest. Many of those protests — including those in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte — have turned violent.

Pittsboro’s interim police chief, Clarence “Shorty” Johnson, released a statement to the department’s Facebook page on Friday, condemning Chauvin’s actions.

“We believe that when incidents like the one involving Mr. George Floyd of Minnesota occur, the law enforcement officer should be held accountable and subjected to the same due process of law as every other citizen of the United States,” Johnson’s statement read. “If anything, we should be held to a higher standard. It is imperative that our community trusts us and each officer should be able to depend on one another to do what is right and just.”

A statement from Chatham Sheriff Mike Roberson echoed that sentiment.

“We, at the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, are deeply troubled and saddened by the death of George Floyd and want to acknowledge that we do not condone the actions of police officers who act unlawfully,” Roberson’s statement said. “Everyone in America should have the ability to live in safety and no one should fear the ability to be treated justly under the law.”

Siler City Police Chief Mike Wagner also condemned the actions of Chauvin in a release.

“The untimely death of Mr. George Floyd of Minnesota is deeply disturbing to the Siler City Police Department and is of great concern to every citizen across this nation,” Wagner wrote. “The actions of the officers involved lacked the basic respect for human life, dignity and were without merit.”

Each of the local statements noted the value of community trust between local law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. Johnson said he wanted the “community to know that we constantly work to uphold” the department’s vision, which includes earning “the respect of all members of our community” and striving to ensure its “officers are well trained and held accountable for their actions.”

Roberson said his department remains “active in the community as servant leaders and we are dedicated to lending our skills and abilities toward the common good of everyone in Chatham County” through “teamwork, leadership and community,” and encourages its employees to “treat everyone, both inside and outside the agency, like family.”

Wagner said his department “works tirelessly to foster relationships in all communities in which we serve” while keeping with its mission to “improve quality of life issues, reduce crime and serve our diverse citizens with compassion, dignity and respect.”

Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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