Police Chiefs in New Bedford and Somerset Condemn George Floyd Killing
New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said Monday that he has serious problems with the way Minneapolis police officers acted in the moments leading up to the death of George Floyd, the black man who died beneath the knee of a white police officer on May 25, sparking intense protests across the country.
“We continue to condemn the horrific action and inaction of police officers in Minneapolis that lead to the death of George Floyd," Cordeiro said in a statement. He said the New Bedford Police Department "strive(s) to live a philosophy of community policing that supports the many diverse communities" within the city.
Cordeiro added that he and Mayor Jon Mitchell took a "collaborative approach" during the largely peaceful protests in New Bedford over the weekend. The two joined protesters on Saturday, and Cordeiro also joined protestors on Monday.
The protesters "were calling attention to the injustice that infects so much of American public life today," Cordeiro said in his prepared statement.
The comments come as some city residents say the city's police department still has work to do. Some New Bedford protestors on Monday emphasized the 2012 shooting death by city police of 15-year-old Malcolm Gracia, who was black. Cordeiro took a knee with the group and marched with them from Union Street to Temple Landing, where Gracia was killed. The city in recent months settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Gracia's family for $500,000 and admitted to no wrongdoing. Since then, the police department has revised its training and various protocols, Cordeiro has said.
Somerset Police Chief George M. McNeil said Monday the methods used in Minneapolis that killed George Floyd are not part of any police training program in Massachusetts. He said police are never trained to place a prone suspect on their face or to put pressure on the neck or throat of a person being detained. He said in Somerset, officers are trained only to use the amount of force necessary to ensure safety for the suspect, the officers, and civilians in the area.
"Police officers everywhere take an oath when they start their careers to protect all citizens without bias or prejudice," McNeil said in a press statement. "This is the most basic of all responsibilities for a police officer, and it is what each member of the Somerset Police Department strives for each and every day."
McNeil said his department believes in the equal treatment of all and "stands with officers across the state, nation, and world in condemning any action that violates this most basic of public safety principles.”