U.S. Attorney's Office Recognizes National Police Week, Sacrifice and Dedication of Fallen Central Illinois Officers
Five police officers (Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarriga and two others), killed in Dallas. Alton Sterling, killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Philando Castile, killed in St. Anthony, Minnesota. We are losing too many lives, too many people. We hurt. And we ask, “Have we lost our way?”
The five police officers—and others--were protecting a public protest that arose because other lives were lost. Somehow, this makes it feel even worse. If we hurt from the loss of life, and we express our grief in public protest—peaceful, lawful public protest--and officers come out to protect that peaceful protest, how can we then have an attack on those officers? How can we have and express our pain, if we cannot find a safe place, for ourselves, our expression and our peace officers?
I have some doubt and despair, but I will not give in. We have too much to do, and cannot give in to doubt or despair.
First, we must mourn these lives, and all the lives that have been lost. Then, we must reflect—and act wisely.
Reflection begins with investigations. These investigations must be prompt, honest and open, and they will be. After investigation, then we can make judgments, wise judgments.
Our officers have to be safe, if we are to be safe. If we ask our officers to go toward trouble, at our request and on our behalf, then we must assure their safety. When officers approach us on the street, we must assure their safety. When officers come to protect us, we must assure their safety. We must teach and reteach the ways to do this, beginning with respect.
And officers are relearning respect for our people. There is more training, with more emphasis on “community policing,” working more closely with the community that is served.
I could write in detail about the use of force and community policing and how people should approach the police, but the present question is more basic: “Can we find a way forward?” The answer is yes, we have to find our way. We do want a safe place, for ourselves, for our officers, for our children, for our future, and we are willing to work together—peacefully—to go forward.