Newly appointed Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Terry is re-emphasizing local police protocols surrounding excessive force in light of the public outrage over the death of George Floyd. 23ABC’s Tori Cooper spoke with him Friday about how he intends to continue to build community trust.
Police Chief Greg Terry made it very clear that he feels the behavior of the Minneapolis police officers was completely unacceptable and he said he wants to ensure the community knows that, as well as his officers.
On Monday, officers were called to a Minneapolis grocery store when an employee called to report someone trying to pass a counterfeit bill. In a video shot by a bystander, Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin is seen pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck while the man gasps for air with his face against the pavement. Floyd then lost consciousness and was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
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The moment captured with cell phone video has people across America outraged, leading to protests across the country.
“What we saw on that video was horrific and unacceptable for law enforcement in America,” said Terry.
Terry said his officers endure vigorous training on how to correctly subdue a subject with the correct use of force to avoid situations like the one in Minneapolis.
“There are times when force has to be used to take someone into custody and we train very hard to do that in the most appropriate way so that people are not injured.”
Terry said he also made all of his officers watch this video to help reinforce that this behavior was not acceptable. Terry explained how horrendous acts like the one in Minneapolis impact community trust in law enforcement nationwide.
"Trust is an emotional thing. It is a relationship and that’s how I view it. A relationship that we have with our community. And it takes work every day.”
One member of the community, Lionel Washington, explained how he believes the Bakersfield Police Department can strengthen that trust.
“Come out more in the community. Look the hood is right there. They could be right there coming out in the community delivering things, whatever, just helping out.”
And in light of the violent protests we have seen around the country, Terry is also sending a message to protesters about acceptable behavior.
"They have every right to peacefully assemble and express their views. And as I said earlier we will work to facilitate that. Illegal and destructive acts are not part of a protest or a peaceful protest and certainly not First Amendment activity. It does nothing to help the issue or further the conversation. So illegal and criminal acts will be treated as such.”
Terry said his officers are ready to handle protesters with the current measures in place.
Earlier Friday, Terry posted on social media a response to the situation.