Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Vergennes chief says police cultivate trust

On behalf of the Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police and the Vermont Police Association, I express both outrage and sadness surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. The actions of one maligned officer with his unwarranted use of force and complete disregard of human life, as well as the inaction of other witnessing officers to intercede and protect, has left the law enforcement community of Vermont stunned and outraged. This incident has once again created a chasm of mistrust, fear and anger between law enforcement and the people we serve that has spread across the nation. 
There was no reason for the death of George Floyd to occur and the people involved must be held accountable and will be held accountable. 
In a matter of minutes, the horrific actions or negligent inaction of these officers have obscured all the tremendously good deeds of compassion and kindness which go unnoticed or unspoken by police officers across the nation each and every day. 
Here in Vermont, law enforcement has diligently worked hand in hand with people of all communities to develop the trust and respect which should exist between law enforcement and the people that they serve. These efforts will continue. Our goal is to have all people who may feel marginalized to feel safe and secure wherever they may be in Vermont and to continue to build trust for law enforcement. We have been resolute in our pursuit of these goals in the past and we will be even more so in the future.
We urge people across our nation to act with respect and courtesy for one another and to use restraint during these most difficult times. Violence is not the answer. Critical communication and dialogue are stifled when emotions are not controlled. At this time, clear thought, control and determination are key to resolving these issues. We ask all our leaders to renounce violence and to be voices of calmness, reason and unity toward a common goal of respect and compassion for all human lives.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of George Floyd and the community of Minneapolis. We ask everyone to remember them as well, and to work together to make sure mutual respect and dignity for everyone are commonplace commodities in our wonderful state of Vermont.
Chief George P. Merkel
Vergennes Police Department
President, Vermont Association of Chiefs of Police
Vermont Police Association

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