Official Statement Condemning the Killing of George Floyd
Written by Chief Theodore D. Conley, Scotch Plains Police Department and Richard Trigo, Fanwood Police Department
We are writing this statement to the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood to announce our official condemnation of the actions of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and watched while Chauvin knelt on Mr. George Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness and ultimately died. We have watched that video from multiple angles, and cannot find one single justification for why any individual, in handcuffs, not resisting, is put in the prone position with an officer kneeling with his full weight on his neck, for over 9 minutes! Neither of us have ever been part of, been witness too, nor given approval for any kind of training that would authorize a tactic such as this to be used by any of our officers. We fully agree with the arrest and charges that were put on Derek Chauvin, and anticipate that the other officers who stood by and did nothing to offer assistance to Mr. Floyd, will also find themselves being charged, as they should be.
The members of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments have made many strides in an effort to build a trusting relationship between the residents and visitors to our towns. We, along with every other police department in Union County, under the direction of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, have implemented a body worn camera program where all of our patrol officers and other officers who are in contact with the public must wear a body worn camera and record all encounters with members of the public. For every incident that involves a use of force, the video and reports are reviewed by the Platoon Commander and then by the Division Commander to make sure that the proper use of force was used and that no more force than that which was necessary was used. We also have our commanding officers randomly review videos for every one of the officers that serve in their command. We have used this to make sure that the Commanding Officers know what their officers are doing on a daily basis and also use several of the videos as training tools if we find an officer doing something contrary to the accepted practices of either of our departments. This program offers even more transparency between our officers and the members of the public that we serve. All of the officers in New Jersey also must have Use of Force, Biased Incident, and Racially Influenced Policing training on an annual basis. Over the last three years, Fair and Impartial Policing was implemented and all officers in Union County have had to participate in this training to make sure that policing is done on an even and fair basis for all. We both meet with the members of the Ministerium on a monthly basis to keep open lines of communication at all times with the leaders of the Houses of Worship in our communities as well as other township leaders. We also meet with the group Social Justice Matters in an effort to improve the race relations between members of our communities and members of our police departments. We have improved upon our community policing efforts by implementing the Cops and Kids program where officers from both Scotch Plains and Fanwood and the school children from both communities get to interact on a fun level and build relationships that last a lifetime with our officers. We also have a very strong LEAD program, (that took the place of DARE), to keep building on the positive relationships between the young members of our communities and our officers. These, along with several other programs and activities that our officers have participated in over the last several years, are a great foundation for a very strong relationship that we have built with the members of our communities. We hope that the horrific actions taken by Derek Chauvin and the other Minneapolis officers do not destroy the relationship that has taken us years to build. We feel that we have to let the Justice System take its course and that ultimately justice will be ser ved to the Floyd family and to all who have felt betrayed and let down by incidents such as these.
We are asking all of the residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood to not let the strong relationship that we have built over several years to be destroyed by the completely horrific and inexcusable actions of Minneapolis police officer Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and watched without having the common human decency, not to mention the official duty to act, to come to the aid of Mr. George Floyd and save his life, which they and all law enforcement officers have taken an oath to do. We truly understand the pain that many members of our communities feel after bearing witness to the horrible way that Mr. George Floyd’s life was taken from him. We, and the members of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments, completely and whole heartedly condemn the actions of Derek Chauvin and the other officers who stood by and did nothing. We welcome the opportunity to meet with the public to continue to foster relationships between the police and public we serve.
We have received several emails asking if the Scotch Plains Police Department would partake in the #8CantWait campaign that is a growing trend on Twitter, I'd like to offer the following in response:
Thank you for contacting us and bringing to our attention the #8cantwait campaign. I would like to go through each of the 8 categories, I think that you will be happy to know that here in New Jersey, we already have been doing this.
2. The only time that it would be acceptable for an officer to use one of these techniques is if they were fighting for their life and this was a last resort, or if they were trying to protect a person who was having deadly force used against them and they needed to use it to protect them. It would have to be a lethal force situation.
6. Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
1. Officers are prohibited from shooting at any moving vehicles.
2. The only exception is if they have to shoot at the vehicle because it is posing a deadly threat to themselves or an innocent bystander (i.e. the vehicle is heading right for them and they have nowhere to go to get out of the way).
7. Require Use of Force Continuum-There is a use of force continuum that is used to teach every officer in NJ.
1. Constructive Authority
- No physical contact; verbal gestures, etc.
2. Physical Contact
- Guiding a suspect to a vehicle
- Putting hands on to put handcuffs on
3. Physical Force
- Wrestling a non-cooperating suspect to the ground
- Wrist locks, arm locks, etc.
4. Mechanical Force
- The use of baton, chemical agent or canine.
5. Less than Lethal Force
- Firing of bean bags or rubber bullets, etc.
6. Lethal / Deadly Force
- The use of a firearm or any other device that is being intention of causing death or serious bodily harm.
8. Require Comprehensive Reporting
1. All NJ officers must fill out a use of force report every time any of the above named categories are utilized.
2. Seeing that Scotch Plains is an Accredited Agency in NJ, for every use of force incident, the Platoon Commander must review every report as well as watch all of the body worn camera video footage that is recorded of the incident for every officer that is in attendance at the event.
3. The Union County Prosecutor’s Office also does an independent comprehensive review of use of force incidents in Union County.
Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the use of force pertaining to police officers today, I assure you that there will be some changes in the future as far as how officers handle situations, and that the best way for us to know what the public is looking for is by having an open dialogue with them. Please feel free to contact my office or stop by at any time if you’d like to discuss this matter or anything else involving the Scotch Plains Police Department that you want to discuss.
Chief Theodore D. Conley
Scotch Plains Police Department
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Being promoted to the rank of Chief of Police of the Scotch Plains Police Department was one of the most humbling accomplishments in my career. It is truly a pleasure working with the men and women of the Scotch Plains Police Department, I have never met a group of more committed individuals who take the safety and security of the citizens and visitors to our Township more than them. We strive on a daily basis to make everyone feel comfortable in their daily lives while at the same time letting them know that we are constantly on guard protecting them and their families as if they were our own.
Please contact the Chief's Administrative Assistant if you have any questions or concerns that you have for Chief Conley or another matter that concerns the Administrative Division, she can be reached at (908) 322-7100 x102.
“To deliver effective police services through the deployment of dedicated, ethical officers who are provided with sufficient guidance and discipline, and to balance the responsibility of protection and enforcement with the limits necessarily placed upon policing in a free society.”
Currently the Department currently has (48) sworn law enforcement officers and (4) civilian personnel and has several divisions that handle the wide variety of services it provides.
The Scotch Plains Police Department has achieved the: Police Agency Re-Accreditation Status, from the NJ State Association of Chiefs of Police as of October 10, 2019. We are very proud of this honor and look forward to receiving
our certificate soon.
Only about one-third of the law enforcement departments in the State of New Jersey have achieved the status of accreditation, which gets renewed every three
The Scotch Plains Police Department has deployed body-worn cameras to its patrol officers. The public should be aware that anything said to an officer equipped with a Body Worn Camera (BWC) could be recorded.
The audio and video of the police-civilian encounter will be accessible for future law enforcement use in accordance with the provisions of the State Attorney General Directive 2015-1 regarding the use of BWCs.
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