I don’t know the chief in Eureka. I don’t know if Chief Andy Mills in Eureka, Calif. reads my blog. But what I do know is that he gets it.
Now I am talking to police: If you are wondering what to do in the present crisis, to start to rebuild trust, to move forward, Chief Mills gives a good example.
The chief was a captain on the San Diego Police Department before he took the job in Eureka two years ago. This is some of what he wrote on his April 19th blog. More departments shouldbe doing just this:
“When the police are wrong, we in policing must admit it, learn from it and change. Policing was wrong in the North Charleston shooting and the recent San Bernardino beating. Policing must change and do so quickly or our credibility will erode even further…
“EPD has a document penned by Sir Robert Peel in 1829 on the founding principles of law enforcement… The Peelian Principles must be a guiding light for EPD and American law enforcement. EPD is re-examining these principles anew and are intent to model ourselves after them…
“To change EPD must:
• “Ensure greater transparency and accountability. This is why the Chief’s Advisory Panel is vital to sustainable transformation.
• “Focus on Problem Oriented Policing and Community Policing. Policing that places officers side by side with community members and focuses on effectiveness, not merely incarceration. When we work together, shoulder to shoulder, to prevent crime it builds rather than breaks the fabric of society. Let’s be clear, there are some who must be removed from society for the sake of safety and public order.
• “Change our views on the use of force. EPD is training to de-escalate incidents. Through time, talk and tactics we can resolve many incidents. We have also expanded the use of less lethal munitions.
• “Understand that the police must only use force as a last resort. Policing needs to change its thinking from a standard of legal justification to, a process of legal and moral justification. I do not however expect our officers to take foolish risk.
• “Work with you in crime control. Residents of Eureka and Humboldt County need to participate in crime prevention and the maintenance of social order.
• “Break the silence. EPD’s mantra is “If you see it, you own it.” There can be no code of blue silence nor can the community be silent. We must all speak up.