The following is a message from Chief of Police, Mark A. DiLuzio of the Bethlehem Police Department, Bethlehem, PA . The message was posted on their facebook page today.
George Floyd’s death & Policing in America
Last Tuesday, when the video of George Floyd’s death was aired, I was horrified at what I saw. Like all Americans across this nation, I was outraged at the callous actions of the Police Officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck. I was also shocked at the actions of the three other officers who stood idly by and did not attempt to intervene even though it was their duty to do so.
Since last week, many police officers across this country have watched the video of George Floyd’s death. We as police officers condemn what happened to Mr. Floyd. I have not met one police officer, either BPD, or other agency, who viewed this video and justified the actions of ex-officer Derek Chauvin. I have heard from officers comments of “disgust,” “this is not what we stand for” and “this is plain wrong.”
Every police officer I have spoken with has said that ex-officer Chauvin should have been fired and arrested for what he did and that the other officers should have been fired. Many officers indicated that the other three should be investigated and charged if appropriate. They failed to stop what was taking place. Just like our citizens, our police officers are rightfully outraged at what happened and also at what is happening now across this country with the violence, rioting and looting by certain radical criminal groups using this incident to further their agenda of violence, destruction and hate.
On Saturday, in Bethlehem, a rally and March was held to protest George Floyd’s murder, to condemn racism and ask for justice. My Deputy Chief and I were there. BPD Officers were present to assist with the large protest and march from the Rose Garden on 8th and Broad, down Broad Street, to New Street to City Hall on Church Street, and back. The march was peaceful. The protester’s message about what happened in Minneapolis, the injustice that took place, was loudly heard. Unlike other cities across our nation, our protest was peaceful, not marred by violence, rioting and looting.
Over the weekend, as I watched media and social media accounts of what was transpiring nationwide, I saw a photo of a black woman holding a large sign that read “Not All Blacks are Criminals. Not All Whites are Racist. Not All Cops are Bad. Ignorance comes in All Colors.” After reading the sign, I said to myself “It’s so very true.” Human beings are an imperfect species. We are all different is some ways but all the same in other ways. There is good and bad in all groups of people. We should not group people into certain broad categories. To do so is plain wrong.
Police Officers are no different. What occurred in Minneapolis was 100% wrong. What the four Officers did was wrong. What Officer Derek Chauvin did was criminal. The horrific events of that day that lead to Mr. Floyd’s death should be investigated thoroughly and if additional criminal charges are needed, they should be filed accordingly immediately.
The type of force used ex-officer Chauvin is never an acceptable use of force by any properly trained officer. In my 40 years of law enforcement experience and training, I have never had anyone ever advocate this type of use of force. I know many officers and from talking with them, they too from their experience and training, agree that a properly trained officer would never use this type of force under the circumstances. Police departments across the country this weekend joined with protesters. In Los Angeles, Flint, Michigan, Orlando, Miami and other place, police departments engaged and even marched with protesters to state together what happened to Mr. Floyd was wrong and criminal.
We are currently at a serious set of crossroads in our country. We can peacefully protest for change, to stop the violence, work together in our communities like many police departments are, or we can riot, loot, create anarchy and create more pain and suffering for many innocent people. About 200 years ago, Edmund Burke stated “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That quote is so very true today, especially now.
All Police are not the same. All people are not the same and all protesters are not the same. We must come together under our common belief that what transpired in Minneapolis that resulted in the death of George Floyd was 100% wrong. We also must state together that the violence, the looting and rioting by some groups and individuals is also wrong and has no place in a civilized society. Only when we work together towards common ideas, communicate peacefully, and work out of differences without violence, can we achieve overall mutual change. And in that change, due justice for George Floyd and his family.
Mark A. DiLuzio
Chief of Police
Bethlehem Police Department