Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll issued a long statement today, decrying the recent apparent police brutality in Minneapolis, where a man died after having his neck sadistically crushed by an officer of the law. Police Chief Justin Doll issued this statement:
The events of this last week demonstrate there is still much to discuss about the relationships between communities and their police departments. I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out and connect with you about your police department.
First, I think it is important to state unequivocally that every law enforcement professional I know was left speechless by the event in Minneapolis. It is simply unfathomable conduct by a police officer.
There are very real and complicated issues in the relationship between many police departments and their communities. The unrest that many cities are experiencing stems from a lack of trust in their police force, as a result of current and historical injustices that have occurred in those communities. Trust is not something that can be established overnight, it must be earned.
Community trust is something we talk about frequently at APD, at every level, and take very seriously. The relationship we have built with the community we serve has taken decades to earn, and we believe very strongly that it is our duty to maintain and improve it every day, on every call for service. APD has a clear track record of holding our officers accountable for misconduct, and being transparent about it. We have experienced officer misconduct in the past, and I cannot promise that we will never have a problem here again. What I can absolutely guarantee is that if we do, the department leadership will react swiftly to take the appropriate criminal and administrative steps to hold the involved officer accountable for his or her actions. We also take preemptive action by thoroughly training our officers.
We know that we all come from different backgrounds, walks of life, experiences, and places. It’s our responsibility to ensure our officers have the tools to navigate these differences. From the very beginning as recruits, and throughout their careers, APD officers are given extensive training in areas like:
- Developing an awareness of personal bias and understanding hidden bias
- Understanding how culture impacts behavior
- How cultural awareness can actually help them do their jobs more effectively
- Discussing the diverse and unique cultures found in our community
- De-escalation techniques
These subjects and others are important tools for an officer to understand how to successfully interact with all members of our community. This personal interaction is the baseline of everything we do, so it is imperative that our officers become expert communicators in any situation.
APD conducts significant training in both de-escalation and cultural sensitivity. Even more importantly we train our people and have a fundamental expectation that every person we contact is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other group they may identify with. When you are committed to treating everyone with respect, you can overcome any implicit or unconscious bias you may have. It doesn’t matter if you are a victim, witness, or a suspect. You are all human beings and your lives matter to us. This is a cornerstone of our culture at APD – compassionate professionalism and respect in all that we do.
I hope that some of this information is useful and helps you understand how committed our police department is to serving every individual in our city while upholding the rule of law. Our relationship with you means everything to us, and we will continue to work hard to earn your trust every day. I am very thankful for the men and women serving at the Anchorage Police Department, and I hope you are as proud of them as I am. We are here for you, and we can accomplish anything when we work together.
With the deepest respect,