Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski posted this message on his department’s Facebook page in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer:
Like all of you, I find myself struggling to find sense in the past week’s events. Having spent 27 years in service of my community, I was stunned and sickened by the actions of an individual who at some point in their lives swore to protect their community and everyone within that community. The oaths we take as law enforcement officers contain no limitations, exceptions or conditions, they are all encompassing and not up for compromise. The oath we take is a non-negotiable contract between ourselves as public servants and those with whom we come into contact with. From the moment we pin that badge to our chest, our every effort and concern is that of care for our fellow human being.
What I saw during that tragic footage was in every sense of the word a violation of that oath. This tragedy was a culmination of failures on many levels. I didn’t just see the brutal mistreatment of a man at the hands of another, but I saw a failure of leadership to provide effective training. I saw a law enforcement administration that failed to establish a culture of compassion and empathy. I saw a department which suffered from the inability of fellow officers to question the actions of another during what was obviously not only a gross violation of proper arrest tactics, but even more importantly the blatant mistreatment of a community member they themselves swore to protect.
As I struggle to process all of this, I am also overcome with a great sense of gratitude and appreciation for the men and women I have had the honor of serving our community alongside of here in Kewaunee County. Our constant vigilance to proper training, updated and prudent policies, and the cultivation of a culture which promotes professionalism and integrity is the benchmark by which we hold ourselves to. We understand that any ounce of authority is derived from those whom we serve. The relationships we have with our community is one of our greatest treasures and a source of our greatest pride.
Alongside the feelings of disgust in the actions which perpetuated the subsequent calls for justice, is the shock in the wholesale high jacking of legitimate civil protests, which are a protected right under our constitution. These subsequent criminal actions leave me filled with anger and disbelief that a society so blessed to have these privileges would so violently and egregiously abuse them.
While there is justification for anger in response to that officers’ actions in Minnesota , what is not justified is the damage of public and private property, the injury of innocent people or the devastation of livelihoods in the destruction of businesses and homes. There is not now nor will there ever be a time when this type of terrorist behavior will be acceptable. We are better than this as ., and I have no doubt that in the end good will prevail. It is my hope that we will look back at this dark chapter in our history and learn from it, a greater capacity for compassion, a renewed pursuit of justice, and an appreciation for the freedoms so many have fought and died for in this great country.
For better or for worse with all that is transpiring before us, we still live in the greatest country on the face of the planet. While not perfect, we each have the opportunity and ability to engage in the many legal and civil processes which are the mechanisms of progress in the pursuit of perfection.
Our future is what we make it, together. Let’s make it a bright future for our children, together!
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