June 1, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – From the office of the Washington County Sheriff:
Today I authorized a request from the Milwaukee Police Department to send a portion of our Sheriff’s SWAT team and our armored rescue vehicle to the City of Milwaukee. The request is to assist with the civil unrest while safeguarding constitutional guarantees of citizens. It is not a request that I take lightly.
The catalyst for this particular request affects all of us. The entire sheriff’s office staff has been encouraged to watch the video(s) of the Minneapolis Police interaction with George Floyd. It is incredibly hard to watch. It is also equally important for those of us in law enforcement to watch.
As human beings we all stand united in condemning that atrocity. I still sit in disbelief at how that can happen in modern police work with multiple officers on scene. If only one of those officers would have stood back and tapped the officer on the shoulder and said, “Hey, ease up. We got this.”
This lack of fortitude certainly justifies righteous anger, but certainly not the burning and tearing down of communities across this great country. Your sheriff’s office will fully support any citizen’s 1st amendment right regarding peaceable assembly to have their voice heard. Peaceable assembly.
Law enforcement has worked incredibly hard to build community trust and is it is completely disheartening how this incident, which is not representative of professional policing, can compromise the work of so many good law enforcement officers who are dedicated to their respective communities and the citizens they serve.
You will rarely ever hear me quote former President Obama, but his recent words are powerful and telling. This is not a partisan issue, and I simply can’t express one aspect of this better than he did. He recently publicly stated, “It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done.
But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.”
That is one layer of this complex problem, but there is more. Another layer is allowing poor policing practices within communities, and not properly identifying officers that have no right to wear the badge. In Washington County, that responsibility falls on me and every other police chief. I am proud of all our Washington County law enforcement agencies that put our community first and treat people with dignity and respect. This is earned mutual respect.
We are extremely fortunate in Washington County to be afforded the level of community support we have for every law enforcement agency. I can assure you it is not taken for granted. One of the organizational goals is to identify issues before it ever has a chance to become a problem. My commitment to Washington County is that if your sheriff’s office ever has a problem, we will own it – and correct it. That is what trust is built upon.