The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association released a letter late Friday regarding the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minnesota last week.
The letter was signed by Sgt. Eric Beecher, association president, who wrote that Mr. Floyd’s death was “unacceptable in a peaceful society.”
“The systematic biases that led to the death of George Floyd and too many others before him must end if peace is to prevail,” Sgt. Beecher wrote. “As law enforcement officers we recognize we are held to a higher standard of conduct and must hold each other accountable to achieve the just society we all seek.”
The association supports the First Amendment and said they are committed to protecting free speech and lawful assembly to ensure “the safety of all those who wish to be heard,” Sgt. Beecher wrote.
“The men and women of the Santa Barbara Police Department continue to learn, adapt, and are open to change that will improve the lives of ALL those in our community to live in peace and prosper,” the letter read.
Sgt. Beecher thanked the approximately 3,000 community members involved in the May 31 protest, and said the department shares their anger while being committed to protecting “the sanctity of life, dignity, and liberty of all persons.”
The letter also addressed the violent protests and occasions of looting that have occurred, as officers were dispatched to Los Angeles on May 30 at the request of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Thousands of officers from numerous agencies provided support and were met with glass bottles, bricks, rocks, and bags of human waste thrown at them,” Sgt. Beecher wrote. “We are thankful that a squadron of our officers responded to the request and returned to us safely.”
He explained that the tools utilized by law enforcement, including helmets, protective vests and less-than lethal projectiles, provide protection for officers to safely do their jobs.
“In light of circumstances across the country in which officers have sustained injuries — in some cases, grave — it is the potential transition from peaceful protest to violent riot for which our officers must be prepared to ensure the safety of all,” the letter read. “The Santa Barbara community is a strong and close-knit family. In the days ahead, we hope that everyone will join us in promoting peace by discouraging criminal behavior that damages our beautiful city, affects local businesses, and impacts the quality of life for everyone.
“The Santa Barbara Police Department is committed to serving our community with the professionalism and respect you have the right to expect.”email: firstname.lastname@example.org