Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams and Chief Deputy Lewis Blanchard recently weighed in on the actions of police and the increased tensions caused by the killing of George Floyd. Their message is below.
There is plenty of good in the world but there is also bad and even some evil. Just as we expect church leaders to call out bad priests and medical professionals to call out bad doctors and dentists, we must call out the bad actions of Police Officers.
Most Police Officers are good and caring persons who are working in challenging times but in this profession we must be held to high accountability standards. Leadership must conduct thorough backgrounds checks, interview friends, utilize polygraphs, interview former co-workers and agencies and conduct physiological exams prior to hiring new personnel to ensure we are hiring good qualified candidates. From there, we must utilize body cams and review a percentage of call engagement in an effort to determine behavior patterns and/or training needs that may need adjustments. We must offer counseling services as Officers go through many traumatic situations over the years. We must greatly increase training and enhance yearly standards (BCSO requires 60 yearly hours vs. the state requirement of 20) but in all honesty it should be closer to 100.)
We must call out and properly deal with bad behavior and deal accordingly with illegal behavior. We must not tolerate excessive force, racism, etc. within our ranks. Agencies at the very minimum should be state certified to ensure minimal standards are being met.
We stand with those who want to end racism and we actively speak up and stand against police brutality. We want all persons treated appropriately. We understand that use of force is necessary and so long as it it appropriate we will always stand behind our Officers. We also understand that using methods that are clearly in violation of training procedures are not acceptable and once a person is under control & handcuffed our methods need to immediately change regarding the situation. We need your help as well….following lawful commands of Officers generally deescalates the situation and ensures you can have your day in court or file a complaint.
Political leaders must make Public Safety a priority & properly fund agencies to allow for increased standards, increased training, body cameras & storage, increased technology, less lethal equipment, etc. as well as salaries that will allow for standards to be raised while not negatively impacting recruitment & retention of the best & brightest to serve and protect.
We are here for you and will always stand for what is right and what is just: