We at the City of Bainbridge Island join with the nation in grieving the loss of Mr. George Floyd. We stand strongly against bias and racism in any form, and we respect and support those who are peacefully speaking out to make their voices known at this time.
On behalf of the City of Bainbridge Island, please see the statement below from Chief of Police Joe Clark who will provide an update to the City Council tonight (June 2) during its remote meeting that begins at 6. You can watch live online or on Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT) (Channel 12 on Comcast and Channel 3 on WAVE).
Dear Bainbridge Islanders:
As you may be aware; I joined with my law enforcement partners throughout Kitsap County to condemn the actions of the officers involved in the death of Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota. Those actions have destroyed years of work to build trust in communities across this nation. It will take years to recover. As I taught my children; trust is hard earned, but easily lost. I am thankful to the police chiefs and sheriff of Kitsap County for inviting me to join in support of our unified commitment to serving our communities in a fair and impartial manner.
Over the last several days I have been asked, “How do we prevent something like this from happening here?” I want you to know that I believe policy and training are two of the most important factors in any professional organization. As an accredited agency, our policies are aligned with best practices and subject to review by an outside entity. This external review also ensures that our policies are indeed the practice of our organization. This is how we hold ourselves accountable; by establishing sound policies and setting clear expectations. I believe this transparency is important to the community and serves the community’s interests.
Officers of the Bainbridge Island Police Department (BIPD) collectively complete many hours of training each year on a wide variety of topics to ensure they carry out their duties in a professional manner, with compassion and fairness for all people. All officers receive training in cultural awareness, implicit bias, crisis intervention, and de-escalation techniques as part of their basic training. An additional 40 hours in these topics are required every three years thereafter. As an agency, we continually search for applicable training to benefit the professional development of our officers to better serve the community. As an example, BIPD officers and civilian employees, along with officers from around the region, attended “Implicit Bias & Cultural Competency” training in November of last year.
Most importantly, I believe in treating all people, regardless of their circumstances, with dignity and respect. This is an expectation that I have for myself and for every member of this department. As a small agency, our officers are well known to the community. We are committed to community policing and will make every effort to continue developing relationships with all members of this community, regardless of who they are or what they look like. Bias and racism have no place in policing.
As the new Chief and a new resident of the island, I have been impressed with the level of professionalism and the commitment to the community shown by every member of this agency, both civilian and sworn. I ask that you watch how we serve this community. I ask that you judge us based on our deeds, not the actions of others. If we miss the mark, I ask that you let me know. I expect to be held accountable, not only for my actions, but for the actions of my officers as well. We remain committed to serving the interests of the entire community in a manner that maintains your trust and support.
Bainbridge Island Police Chief Joe Clark