To my friends and my community: I am shocked at the conduct of the officers involved in the death of George Floyd, and I am embarrassed for our profession. I share in your anger and frustration, but please do not let this situation influence your perception of those of us who wear a uniform. What the officers did in that case does not represent the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers involved in millions of contacts each and every day throughout this country.
In reality, police use of force is a very rare occurrence. Rarer still when it results in death. And extremely rare when death is the result of inappropriate conduct. It's just that every time it happens, given today’s commercial and social media environment, the news spreads fast and far.
Take Gulfport for example. Over the past five years, officers have used force 171 times. That may seem like a lot, but consider that in that same time, we made 2,163 arrests while responding to 137,714 calls for service. Every one of these cases is documented and investigated for compliance with law and policy. Of the 171 incidents, there were no complaints of excessive force, and only one investigation revealed a policy violation. These ratios are typical and demonstrate how extremely unlikely it is that an individual will be involved in a use of force situation, let alone one that involves police misconduct.
And it’s not just internal reviews that hold officers accountable. Everything we do is subject to oversight by multiple levels, including the local prosecutor, state police standards board, and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
I encourage anyone who would like a closer look at how law enforcement operates on a day to day basis to participate in your local citizens’ police academy. Most agencies, including state and federal, make these programs available multiple times per year.
Or better yet, come join us and earn a badge of your own. We are always looking for the best and brightest.