Our nation’s police men and women certainly have taken it on the chin with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His death was horrific and hard for anyone to watch. Mr. Floyd was not a perfect person, in fact he was sentenced to jail terms eight times in his life for drug possession, theft, trespass and armed robbery. But no American, regardless of their criminal history, should die the way that he did. Even the most hardened criminal has constitutional rights that need to be protected.
I do think that it is very unfortunate though that all law enforcement got painted with the same brush as the police officer who killed Mr. Floyd. Personally, I don’t believe that police brutality is systemic as some claim. If this were true, then each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns would be mired in police brutality lawsuits, which is not the case. There are lawyers just waiting for these cases, as they are worth millions of dollars in settlements. In effect, it is the legal community that polices the police.
Here in Westerly, we have an outstanding police department. Our police force is made up of solid professionals who do their job well and keep our town a safe and nice place to live. Chief Lacey is superb and is doing an excellent job. He has my 100% support. There are very few problems within our police department, as it is well-managed by the chief and Town Manager Rooney. (Mr. Rooney was a great hire by the 2016-18 town council. I was pleased to have been instrumental in bringing him to Westerly.)
As I have in the past, I will vote to fully fund our police department and give them the resources that they need to do their job well. If you want to live in a nice community, then you need to fully fund and support your local law enforcement. If you don’t, then the criminal element that exists in every society will just take over. The ideas of defunding or abolishing police departments, to put it kindly, are not very bright ideas.
The writer is a former member of the Westerly Town Council.