Public confidence is up in spite of the seeming rift between police and community in other cities. This too is due to the work you do and manner in which you do it. You are a unique group and I believe events that unfold in 2015 will highlight how special and different you are in comparison to other police services.
I have closely followed the troubles in Fergusson, Brooklyn, and Cleveland, as you no doubt have. I heard President Obama call for change in the way police interact with the public. I heard Attorney General Holder call for “wholesale change” in a direct reference to the Fergusson Police Department. Many police administrators, supervisors and police officers are looking at 2015 with trepidation. Many will need to make significant changes in their policies and the manner in which they hire, train and go about their mission. Many departments will be forced to deal with the frustrations concomitant to wholesale change, but not you.
The Pine Bluff Police Department already reflects the community it polices in racial make-up. We will not need to spend time, money or effort to change the “appearance” of our cadre. We have had and will continue good practices in recruitment and hiring.
Our quantity and content of training is far above average. Our policy is current and more comprehensive than that of most police departments. You have more useful and realistic use of force options than your counterpart officers in Fergusson Missouri and you are better equipped. You do not have a reputation for abuse of civil rights or racial profiling because, in part, I refuse to send you on short sighted missions such as neighborhood saturation patrols, roadblocks, or sobriety checkpoints. I believe that misguided Police Chiefs are a more persistent problem than are bad police officers.
Check out the NPR/Georgia Public Radio show link on our web page in which I explain where I believe the real problem exists.
Lastly, you do your jobs very well in a trying environment. The majority of you are focused professionals with common sense and compassion. Count on my unfailing support in the coming year.
I am still reviewing the 5675 page Fergusson Missouri grand jury file as well as the FPD policy. From this incident and others we will develop appropriate training for you with the goal of increasing your situational awareness and making your use of force options more instinctive and accessible.
As a group you are doing well. Stay the course.