County agencies acknowledge more work is needed

Law enforcement leaders throughout Kenosha County reaffirmed their commitment to public safety while acknowledging a need for evaluating policies amid national and local calls for police reform.

The joint community message issued last week, meanwhile, come after law enforcement officials across the nation have come under intense scrutiny about racial bias in policing.

“We hear you and we see. We are dedicated to evaluating policies and practices to address the issue of bias in policing,” the joint statement signed by four police chiefs and Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth stated.

In addition to Beth, the message saw endorsement chiefs Daniel Miskinis, City of Kenosha; David Smetana, Village of Pleasant Prairie; Adam Grosz, Village of Twin Lakes; and James Heller, University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

“We commit to doing our part, while working with the communities we each serve, to usher in change.”

The law enforcement leaders condemned excessive force by officers elsewhere, some of which caused fatalities, including George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd, a Black man, died after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck even as he continually shouted “I can’t breathe!”

Chauvin, charged with murder, was recorded on video while three other officers stood by without intervention. The three officers have also been charged.

Shortly after, in Atlanta, a white officer shot Rayshard Brooks, who is black, from behind after Brooks fled from officers.

Brooks death, like Floyd, was also recorded and later circulated on social media.

“We condemn excessive force and will hold our officers and each other accountable. We strongly support legitimate police action but are disgusted by any instance of police misconduct, especially those where racist ideology may be a contributing factor,” the joint message stated.

“We are proud professionals and do not support those who do not serve with fairness, compassion, honor and integrity.”

Meanwhile, Kenosha County law enforcement agencies are working to restore trust, including increased trainings on de-escalation and improved awareness/avoidance of bias.

The five agencies, according to the statement, indicated they are looking to bolster communication with each of their communities.

“We are working together to assure fair and appropriate policing in our communities. We are increasing dialog with our communities to gain perspective and foster trust. Those who live, work, recreate or seek education here have every right to expect that their life is respected and valued,” the message stated.

“We remain strongly committed to our oaths and to keeping our communities safe. Our goal is to reaffirm and strengthen our resolve to see that everyone is and feels safe.”

 
 

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