Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren expressed his sadness and frustration with the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer.
At a Chilmark board of selectmen meeting Tuesday, Klaren said that it is time for police departments everywhere to begin looking at current policies, and what can be done to ensure the safety of the public.
“What is going on in this country starts with the name George Floyd,” Klaren said. “It’s hard putting words to it. Disgust, disappointment, anger, all these emotions are being felt by the law enforcement community all across the country.”
Although Klaren said the officers here are the best trained in the country, “it’s not enough right now. We need to really dig and make what is already good better.”
Klaren said he reached out to the entire staff, and asked them to reflect on the recent tragedies in America perpetrated on marginalized communities. “We want to try and find a way that all our encounters with the public stay positive,” Klaren said.
He mentioned peer intervention as one element of law enforcement policy that should be a central focus. He said Chilmark Police are aligning with the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, which is a national campaign that seeks to bring immediate, drastic reform to police departments.
Klaren said the Chilmark Police Department will be reviewing its use of force policy, and possibly implementing peer intervention training for officers. Peer intervention training reinforces ethics in policing, and involves officers intervening when they see misconduct. “This is one area that is glaringly missing, is that peer duty to intervene. It hasn’t been in writing, and you hope that it didn’t have to be in writing. But it’s going to be in our policy, and it’s going to have legs,” Klaren said.
Klaren said that if peer intervention training had been implemented by the Minneapolis department in the case of George Floyd, “perhaps it could have had a different outcome.”