Police Chief's Open Letter Regarding the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis

May 30, 2020

Dear Residents of Belmont,

On May 28, 2020, I received an email from a Belmont resident who, in light of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, felt it was necessary to ask me a few questions to proactively ensure the safety of Belmont’s minority citizens.  I immediately answered the resident’s email.  I have since heard from others with similar concerns, so I believe it is necessary for me to write this letter.

I watched the video of George Floyd’s death with dismay.  As a police officer and former use-of-force instructor, I was sickened by the video.  Speaking for the Officers at the Belmont Police Department, I can say that they, too, found the video disturbing. The death of George Floyd runs counter in every way to the values of democracy, justice, and fundamental fairness.  Any officer who is not upset about the death of George Floyd, or seeks to justify the unjustifiable, should leave the profession of law enforcement.

Please know that our officers work very hard to build and maintain trust within our community.  Our number one goal is to provide excellent, fair and impartial police services to the community of Belmont. Over the years, leadership at the BPD has infused an ethos into our Department requiring that all citizens and visitors to Belmont that we encounter receive fair, equal and compassionate treatment. Maintaining and cultivating this culture is our number one priority. 

Our officers are aware of the differences of explicit and implicit biases and have received annual training on how biases can affect their interactions with others.  Belmont Police Officers are trained in de-escalation techniques that include de-escalating incidents involving people in crisis, people living with addiction, and people with autism.

The circumstances of the George Floyd death will and should cause police organizations across the country to take a hard look at their officers and their organizational cultures to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in the future. I can assure you that the Belmont Police Department fully embraces the six pillars of the principals found in President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 

The Belmont Police will continue our partnerships and collaboration with existing and future groups that seek to bring social justice within our community. I have never been more proud of the officers and our team at the BPD. At no time during my career, can I recall us having a group of professional and community minded officers like the ones that fill our ranks today.   I will be attending each roll call in the coming week to discuss the incident in Minneapolis with our officers and to share the concerns that residents have expressed to me.

The most effective way we can build trust between the police and the community is for us to get to know one another. I, and the members of the Belmont Police Department, will always make ourselves available to anyone who has concerns or questions regarding operations, tactics and how we interact with the public. 

As a police officer, it is heartbreaking to me when I learn that there are people in our community who fear the police.  We will make every effort to alleviate that fear and build trust within the Community of Belmont.

Sincerely,

James MacIsaac

Police Chief