Manheim Borough Police Open Letter to those we serve
It has taken me some time to process the events that unfolded in Minneapolis, Minnesota and this statement is overdue.
I wish to express my sincerest condolences to the family of George Floyd and to his community. Acts of police brutality, negligence, and failure to render aid are unacceptable. I believe I speak not only for our MBPD officers and their families, but all of the officers of Lancaster County condemning not only the use of force by one officer, but the omission of the three other officers on scene who should have acted on behalf of Mr. Floyd’s life. When the officers of Manheim Borough viewed the video of this incident, everyone agreed that the use of force was not only untrained policing, but criminal.
I felt compelled as a police leader to recognize that there are officers in our Country that do not live up to our oath. These officers have no right to wear a badge that others have paid the ultimate sacrifice for, while upholding their oath. These officers tarnish all of the hard work and sacrifices that our officers make every day. Our officers have been and continue to be guardians of life who are bound by oath and moral obligation to preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee. Our officers respond to calls and help victims regardless of their color, religion, age, mental health status or their “standing” in the community. Our officers have been assaulted and injured defending the victims of our community, some of whom were strangers we never met. We do not stand idle while our residents fall victim. Our officers are all leaders and we will refuse to allow another officer, our own, or another department’s, to tarnish our reputation.
This past week, I met with fellow police officers, police leaders, members of the community and members of the NAACP Lancaster Chapter. We are all hurting and seeking open communication and mutual trust.
Trust must be earned, not given. I have served as a police officer for 25 years; and have always been committed to providing Manheim Borough and Rapho Township with constitutional policing with community policing activities and engagement. When I was a city officer, we held the same core values.
Years before May 25th, 2020 we took numerous steps to ensure that our values are in-line with the will of the people. These steps were to encourage impartial law enforcement efforts that preserve the quality of life and the preservation of property and individual rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. Some of these initiatives include community policing models and policy, bias-free policing, use of force reviews and early warning systems, positive leadership and culture and recruitment of qualified applicants through exhaustive background procedures and vetting. Our officers have all received Crisis Intervention training which has assisted us in dealing with numerous incidents involving individuals who have been in mental health crisis.
Recently, in March of 2020 we implemented body worn cameras. We wanted to add a layer of transparency to our interactions with the public. These body cams record ALL contacts with officers and our residents. It was our desire to protect the public as well as our officers. These body cameras record the unfiltered, indisputable truth.
As an agency we constantly look to change and improve our service. We will continue to ensure our officers are trained and equipped to be the professionals that you and your families deserve. I will continue to base our policies and procedures to ensure our officers are following the law while keeping the citizens we serve stay safe.
It is my professional commitment to empower the officers of this agency to be leaders and not only call out each other but, our leaders, myself included.
I do not tolerate unprofessional conduct in this agency. Our mission is to continue to build the trust of our community and those we serve.
Chief Joseph C. Stauffer