Tragic events across the country over the past year have placed an ever-growing spotlight on law enforcement. These events have played out across our television screens and on the front page of our morning newspaper. They were horrific and tragic and go against the mission of law enforcement to protect and serve all citizens justly and fairly.
These tragedies have drawn increased scrutiny from the public, but they have also caused many departments to look inwardly. Law enforcement organizations are rightly taking a hard look at their departments, their protocols, and their training methods, so they can prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in their community.
Here in Gwinnett County, we are no different.
As a 30-year member of this department, I want you to know building and maintaining trust and respect in this community is a priority of every officer at the Gwinnett County Police Department. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to officer misconduct, and we have the leaders, training, policies and practices in place to ensure compliance with not only departmental policies but also the values of our agency. Those values are front and center in all we do:
♦ Integrity: We are committed to achieving the public’s trust by holding ourselves accountable to the highest standards of professionalism and ethics.
♦ Courtesy: We will conduct ourselves in a manner that promotes mutual respect with the community and our peers.
♦ Pride: We are committed to conducting ourselves in a manner that brings honor to ourselves, our department, and the community we serve.
♦ Professional growth: We are committed to developing future leaders through training and education.
Because of those values, we work hard to create a culture and expectation that everyone who interacts with law enforcement in our county receives fair and equal treatment. Our mission is to deliver “professional law enforcement services in an unbiased and compassionate manner in order to protect the lives and property of the citizens” of Gwinnett County. It is why the Gwinnett County Police Department is widely known and respected as one of the leading law enforcement agencies in the nation.
There will be times when we don’t live up to our mission and values. Our leadership will work hard to ensure those are few and far between. When we fall short, we will take proper action with transparency.
If there is anything this past year has taught us, it is that trouble arises when anyone is judged based on a broad generalization, removing their humanity and dignity, breaking a trust forged over a long period of time. When a member of law enforcement does this to someone in their community, it can lead to tragic consequences, as we have seen far too many times in recent months.
I understand that these events have caused hurt and pain to so many, and I hope the actions of our team locally can help rebuild what was broken by these tragic events around the nation.
In addition, it is concerning when some in the community judge members of our local law enforcement based on what they see depicted on the evening news. These public servants in our community are not editorial cartoons or Internet memes, rather they are women and men committed to risking their lives for others.
They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and friends and neighbors. They wake up every day, go to work, serve their communities, and, God-willing, return home when their shift is complete. They are here to serve you, to protect you, and to help you.
Every employee from the Gwinnett County Police Department takes pride in and is honored to serve this strong and diverse community, where our differences can be our greatest strength. Good relationships take work, and the strongest ones are built upon the foundation of trust and open communication.
In Gwinnett County, we’ve built that strong foundation, and we remain whole-heartedly committed to the partnership we’ve formed with the community we love and are proud to serve.