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Police Chief on the Shooting of Philando Castile: “I’m not going to hide behind the law.”

Charlotte City, NC (VN) – Council members, commissioners and the police chief gathered Friday afternoon to talk about recent tragedies across the nation, including the fatal shootings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana as well as the deadly shooting at a peaceful protest that left five officers dead.

 

Here is an excerpt of Police Chief Kerr Putney’s speech during the meeting (July 8, 2016):

“Our experiences are all different too, just as different as we are as individuals, but what brings us together is we swear to an oath – an oath to protect the freedoms and liberties of all of our citizens and all of our community members. This oath supersedes everything else in our lives when we put our uniforms on.

Personally, the only reason I’m standing before you is because there was a cop– there is a cop down in Dallas, Texas who convinced me in college that this was a noble profession. My experience was different. History shows us different. In this profession, we do have a racist, bigoted history. And that hurts me.

The reason we are here today is because one of the viral videos from Minnesota hurts me. It hurt our profession. We hide behind ‘Well, we don’t know all the facts.’ Well, I don’t need to know the facts to see another dead, black body in the street and say, ‘That hurts me. That disappoints me. We have more work to do.’

I’m not going hide behind the law, because I told you what I think about the ‘legal standard’. I’m talking about a moral and ethical standard that all 1,849 sworn CMPD officers aspire to achieve, regardless of their race. My experience is a little different because of my distrust of police, and even now when I see blue lights it hits me in the stomach. I had that reaction since I was 8-years-old.

But what you don’t know is, I am sometimes more fearful when I put this uniform on; because I’m going to tell you a secret, I was always black. I was born that way, I’m going to die that way, but I chose to put myself in harms way with the honorable people who wear these uniforms to protect the people who need us most.

Now, people talk about unconscious bias, and we’re embracing that. I think I was the hard-headed one who was in denial for the longest time, but what I can tell you is yes, we all have unconscious implicit biases. And your police department is hitting that head on.”

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