‘Justice for one and all’: Shawnee Mission area leaders weigh in on national movement following death of George Floyd

As protests continue following the death of George Floyd last week at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, municipal leaders in Shawnee Mission have joined the national discuss of racial disparities, police brutality and civil rights.

We’ve compiled statements issued by area mayors, law enforcement leaders and other public officials on the situation below.

Johnson County Government

Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden, Board of County Commissioners Chair Ed Eilert and District Attorney Steve Howe issued the following statement Monday night:

Along with all of you, we have been grieving the tragic loss of life of George Floyd. As elected officials of Johnson County we do not tolerate violence of any kind including that which is centered on racism or inequality. Those of us in the criminal justice system demand fair and just treatment of all people. We will work to ensure upholding everyone’s civil rights.

We understand the need for our metro area to have its voice heard on this issue. We encourage public dialogue, debate, and expressing your grief and frustration. Part of our role is to protect your First Amendment rights. However, we implore you to leverage those rights in a peaceful manner. Please, help us protect the community by understanding that violence, destruction and social unrest will not solve the problem. This is not the time for communities to be torn apart; rather, it is the time for us to come together, and continue to create a county, metro area and nation where everyone is protected and treated equally.

Fairway

Fairway Mayor Melanie Hepperly and Police Chief David Brown sent the following statement to residents Tuesday:

The circumstances of George Floyd’s death are deeply troubling, are wrong, and should not have happened. It is important to talk about and to understand what we are doing in Fairway to safeguard against instances like this happening in our community.

This brings up a great question that is in line with our values here in Fairway – the value of human life is immeasurable to us as a community and as a department and what are we doing to maintain it? We seldom have uses of force here in Fairway, but when we do, we take time to thoroughly review what happened. To paraphrase our policy, we use only that force which is necessary to make an arrest and we must treat everyone with as much respect and dignity as the person will allow. When we train, when we talk about use of force instances, and when we review our actual uses of force these values are present. When a threat to others or to us is diminished, we deescalate our control tactics to, again, keep the situation and those involved, safe. In instances where resistance is intense, and even as a struggle is ongoing, we consider the offender’s wellbeing and render aid as quickly as possible.

We also equip our officers with tools that help safely control combative individuals. These tools include leg restraints, electronic control devices, and a restraint system that safely wraps a combative or self-destructive person and is designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of injury. We also have three video sources we use when officers are patrolling, two in-car sources and one body-worn source, which we review on all critical incidents including, uses of force. From these reviews we talk about what happened; if our response is legal, ethical, within policy and, given the circumstances, was the right thing to do; what training needs we might glean from it; and if our systems are working to ensure we are performing the best we can.

Lastly, as a small community department, we know each other well, how we are doing, and whether we need encouragement, assistance or further development both personally and professionally. This interaction occurs not only within the police department but with city administration, our governing body and with our citizens. The importance of this can’t be understated as we, in many cases, are better equipped but also much better in tune with how we are doing individually and organizationally.

Fairway Police Department trains annually on implicit bias and biased based policing, which has been part of the Johnson County and State of Kansas’ policing culture since the mid to early 2000’s and based upon the work of Dr. Lori Fridell. In March of 2016 many area Chiefs of Police and many members of the African American community attended the Fair and Impartial Policing Community Advisory Board Training hosted by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) and the Kansas African American Affairs Commission (KAAAC) in Johnson County. The foundation of this workshop was based upon Dr. Fridell’s work, with Dr. Fridell leading the first day’s discussion. Chief Brown, then a Major with the Lenexa Police Department, working with counterparts from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, KLETC, KAAAC and local NAACP organized and helped facilitate the workshop. The outcomes of the workshop were the forming of new and the strengthening of existing relationships, an increased understanding of implicit bias among all, and action plans on how to improve community relations and accountability around implicit bias and policing. Many community members in attendance saw value of Dr. Fridell’s training in their own work environments, that this message is important to all. (See Page 4.) The values and plans discussed and learned in this workshop have been implemented both in Johnson County and across the State of Kansas. This work is, as it must be, ongoing.

Regarding George Floyd’s death, the behavior we see by Officer Chauvin in the video and that we read about in the charging complaint goes against the core of who we are as a department; the values we aspire to as police officers; the values that form the basis of our policy; of how we equip and train ourselves; of why we were selected as individuals to work here at the Fairway Police Department; and the values to which we hold ourselves that have earned our respect in the eyes of this community. Officer Chauvin’s actions that day, the type, extent and duration of force he used, are to be condemned. Neither he nor any of the other officers present ensured Mr. Floyd was cared for after he stopped resisting, as they should have, as we are required to and, more fundamentally, as was needed to give Mr. Floyd the best opportunity to live.

Leawood

Mayor Peggy Dunn and Police Chief Troy Rettig issued the following statement:

Like others, we were saddened and deeply disturbed to see the actions of the now former Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd. We were also disappointed to see the inaction of the other officers who were present in not coming to Mr. Floyd’s aid. We stand firmly behind the decision to terminate the involved officers. One life lost is one too many, and we will learn from this and not allow Mr. Floyd’s death to be in vain. As difficult a scene as that was to witness, we would ask our residents to try and not view it as being indicative of the actions of the nearly 700,000 men and women in the United States who have taken an oath to protect the citizens they serve. We support those who engage in peaceful protest, but not those who engage in violence.

The City of Leawood and the Leawood Police Department have long prided ourselves as being professional organizations with an emphasis on fairness, service, dedication and transparency to the public and community we are fortunate to serve. We were among the first metro-agencies to issue body cameras to all of our front line officers five years ago. We did this to ensure the actions of our officers were reviewable and available as needed.

Our police department focuses on productive communication first and foremost in any contact, knowing that it is at the heart of any positive interaction we have at a personal or organizational level. Along with our police department, all of our elected officials and professional staff are firmly committed to inclusivity and to justice for one and all.

As we move forward, we invite anyone with questions about our City and police department to please feel free to contact us. It is only by having an open and honest dialogue that we can learn from each other, discuss concerns and move forward to a brighter future.

Lenexa

Police Chief Tom Hongslo sent the following message to his officers last week. The message was then shared with the community:

Most of you have already heard of and watching the incident in Minneapolis where George Floyd died after the officer kneeled on his neck for a prolonged period of time. In my opinion, the Minneapolis Police Chief’s firing of the officer and the officers that did not intervene was the absolute right decision.

We all have the obligation to strictly adhere to the use of force policy and intervene when witnessing an incident that is obviously out of policy and morally wrong. After using the minimal force necessary to effect an arrest, all police officers must control their emotions and switch to a caretaking mode to ascertain if the suspect needs medical attention and is not in danger of injury. Restricting a suspect’s breathing has caused many unnecessary deaths throughout the United States. At Lenexa PD, we have always set the standard high on use of force training and the review of use of force incidents.

Many of us have seen these incidents play out throughout the United States with serious detrimental effects to those communities. Unfortunately, we are in a profession where many judge all of us on one person’s actions. We have already had phone calls from our community asking specific questions on training, de-escalation, use of force, etc. They are questions we can confidently answer due to our training, reviews and quality of professional employees.

You most likely will also hear comments regarding this incident while working. If possible, take the time to listen to their concerns and answer their questions. We all greatly appreciate the high level of support we get from our community.

Thank you for your professionalism and working to always positively represent Lenexa PD and our profession.

Merriam

Mayor Ken Sissom, who was previously the chief of police in the city, issued the following statement on behalf of both the city administration and the police department:

It is hard to find the right adjective to describe feelings, as they relate to the death of George Floyd. Having a video that shows the manner of his death leave little doubt about what happened. While the circumstance leading up to the incident are less clear, it is apparent that he was suspected of violating a law and was taken into custody. He may have resisted, but it looks to me that the officer had him under control and any resistance was overcome by an officer trained in proper restraint. At this point, the facts leading up the arrest seam less important because the true tragedy began after the handcuffs were applied.

I have a unique perspective on this incident that goes well beyond being the Mayor of Merriam. I was a police officer in this area for 31 years. For the past 6+ years I have directed police training operations at the Johnson County Regional Police Academy.

Once a police officer places anyone under arrest, the health and safety of the arrested person is the responsibility of the police officers present. If a person received unreasonable injury or death, as in this case, the officers must be held responsible. It the case of George Floyd, his death was directly caused by abuse. It was unnecessary and unreasonable. There is no doubt about it — the video does not lie.

When I see serious police abuse on display, I am saddened, frustrated and angered, not only for the unfortunate victims, but because these acts hurts the profession of law enforcement. Acts such as these breaks trust, it breaks hearts, and it tears down community connections that are often years in the making.

George Floyd did not deserve to die. The officers involved were directly responsible for his death and must pay the legal price. There is no way to justify these acts. I can assure you that these officers were trained better than that.

I believe in the American principals of peaceful demonstration and we have seen several examples occur across this country. Changes will occur, when enough people rise up and demand them. What I do not agree with is civil disobedience, vandalism and destruction of personal property, assault of police officers. This has to stop.

For those in Johnson County to worry if officers like this exist among the ranks of the various police departments. I am confident in saying that they do not. I was police chief for 13 years. I can not imagine any Johnson County law enforcement agency allowing an officer to stay on the job, with the shocking record that Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin apparently has. It is the departments duty to get rid of officers like Officer Chauvin.

The Merriam Police Department strives each day to build sincere and lasting relationships with our residents through our National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop and other community events. This is what the City of Merriam is all about. We believe that black lives matter and that racism has no place in our city. Our mantra is, “Wherever you’re from, whatever you do, whomever you love, Merriam is just right for you.” This is our truth and their is our promise.

Mission

Mayor Ron Appletoft and Police Chief Ben Hadley issued the following joint statement:

The tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd last week has been a painful reminder that fighting against racial inequity and social injustice in our communities must continually be a high priority. As local government leaders and public safety professionals, we have a responsibility to the people in our city, not only to keep them safe, but also to keep the lines of communication open so that concerns and issues can be addressed in ways where all voices are heard and understood.

Chief Ben Hadley and our entire Mission Police Department have acknowledged that there is no justification for the actions of the officers in Minneapolis — whether the officer kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, or those who did nothing to intervene. The family of George Floyd deserves the truth and justice.

I know I speak on behalf of the entire Mission City Council in expressing our support for the professionalism and commitment of the men and women of Mission’s Police Department. That support is garnered through mutual respect and a culture of accountability. Our officers are recruited, supported and trained in alignment with the Department’s values of respect, integrity, and professionalism. Each and every citizen and visitor in our community should expect transparency as we seek to build and maintain trust.

Mission’s officers undergo extensive training annually on ethics, appropriate use of force, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to aid in de-escalation, and fair and impartial policing. Mission was one of the first cities in Johnson County to equip all of our officers with body cameras to supplement the in-car audio and video recording, and these systems were recently upgraded. Training and equipment become just the outward manifestation of the Departmental and City values that we work to demonstrate in our thoughts, words and actions each and every day.

The events of the past week underscore that the unconscionable actions of a few can reflect loudly on an entire profession. They also emphasize that it is incumbent upon us to actively maintain an open dialogue within Mission to combat racism and the threats it poses to some of our residents, in order to become the community we want to be. The community that we must be.

Olathe

Mayor Michael Copeland and Police Chief Mike Butaud issued the following joint statement:

In the shadow of the tragic event in Minneapolis and in the face of pain being felt in Olathe and cities across the country, we stand more resolved and united than ever to our approach to both law enforcement and community building. We not only a focus on professionalism and exceptional and most current training but also empathy and building relationships.

While we take great pride in our partnership with the Olathe NAACP, our Human Relations Commission and Citizens Police Advisory Council, and our officer training and tools such as body cameras, it is our commitment to community that must continue and flourish. That commitment is about fostering strong and lasting relationships based on trust, compassion, respect and empathy. It is making sure our officers are a part of every aspect of our community…that they are on a first name basis with people in every neighborhood and of every background. It is about listening to understand, a willingness to learn and grow from others’ perspectives and life experiences. It is about creating a safe place to have difficult community conversations.

Are we perfect? Absolutely not. But, we have a steadfast commitment to a culture in our police department based on our values and our community. As always, we remind anyone who feels they may have been somehow mistreated or marginalized to please contact our police department directly. It is a critical conversation we want to and need to have. And as always, should anyone have any reservation about working directly with the police department, please reach out to a third party such as the NAACP or the ACLU. We can only strengthen our culture by learning and growing together. That is our commitment.

Overland Park

Mayor Carl Gerlach issued the following statement in conjunction with Police Chief Frank Donchez:

Over the past week across this great nation we have seen a diverse gathering of compassionate citizens rightfully demanding justice and equal treatment for all.

Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez and I, as Mayor of Overland Park, want to add our voices and express our grief over the tragic and indefensible death of Mr. George Floyd.

We respect those who wish to lawfully express their opinion and thoughts through peaceful public demonstrations, the type of expression that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for and proudly and effectively showed us how.

We all should be civilly engaged in these conversations to find ways to remove systemic discrimination in our society.

Whether in Overland Park, or in any city in the metropolitan Kansas City area and across this nation, we must strive to build strong community relationships between our law enforcement organizations and the citizens they are sworn to protect.

Police Chief Donchez and his department have taken a strong stance against biased behavior. The department has a strong relationship with many diverse community groups.

If for any reason someone believes they have been mistreated by an Overland Park police officer, please let us know immediately. The city will fully investigate all complaints and take appropriate action.

Police Chief Donchez and I will continue to work with our community partners and the City Council to guarantee we work closely together to prevent any kind of injustice and ensure equal treatment for all.

Prairie Village

Mayor Eric Mikkelson read the following statement at Monday’s city council meeting:

The Chief and I, and I dare say everyone here at the City, are deeply concerned about the tragic, senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and what has ensued. Over the last several days we’ve been in contact with the local NAACP, Mayor [Quinton] Lucas, and area Chiefs to express support and offer assistance. For decades we have proactively been implementing training (including anti-bias and cultural diversity training), supervision, hiring practices and many more measures in our Police Department to reduce the risk of such incidents here and to ensure our justice in Prairie Village is fair and impartial. As of earlier this year, we deployed Body Worn Cameras in PV. We use de-escalation techniques to ensure force is only used when necessary, and only appropriately.

Needless to say what we saw on that video was wrong and would have been fundamentally inconsistent with how we train and operate in Prairie Village on many levels. But like most American cities, Prairie Village has racism in its past (such as in our historic deed restriction covenants) and thus, in my view, we have an obligation to be vigilant and proactive to stamp out racism everywhere it might emerge.

While we all condemn the riotous destructive behavior we’ve seen by a few, including in our good neighbor KCMO, it would be wrong to condemn the criminal riots without acknowledging and recommitting to address the injustice that precipitated it. Martin Luther King Jr. may have addressed this paradox best in his address to Grosse Pointe High School on March 14, 1968, shortly before his death, when he said:

I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non­-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.

It is poignant and sad that that message, 50 years later, is a message we still need to communicate today. My belief, widely shared throughout our organization, is that we are better together…listening civilly and insisting on justice.

We celebrate and encourage diversity in Prairie Village, racial and otherwise, and remain actively committed every day to fair, impartial justice.

Roeland Park

Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly issued this statement on behalf of the city.

Roeland Park condemns the murder of George Floyd. We are saddened that his name is added to a growing list of lives cut unnecessarily short. We are using this moment in history as an opportunity for true reflection on our actions and how they affect black and brown residents of our community. The murder of George Floyd and resulting protests reminds us that, for some, a return to ‘normal’ after the pandemic would mean a return to being treated unfairly based on the color of one’s skin. It is maddening that in 2020, we still live in a society where those of color are unjustly profiled, mistreated, and have their civil rights violated at the hands of those in positions of trust. In Roeland Park, we’ll never be afraid to blaze a path of change.

More often than not, our first line of interaction with residents, and consistently our most visual, is our police department. For myriad reasons, we are proud of their work. From their kindness to strangers to their earnest desire to better our city, RPPD continues to make us proud. We appreciate RPPD’s continued desire to improve relations and build bonds of trust with our residents and visitors of color. While we have not received complaints against our officers for anything related to racial issues, we strive to improve ourselves as we treat all citizens with respect and compassion. Our officers wear body cameras and have done so for many years. We also have in-car cameras. Further, our officers receive extensive training on contemporary cultural issues, diversity awareness, use of force, community policing, and ethics. Chief Morris is a wealth of knowledge: He represents region 7 of Kansas (Leavenworth, Wyandotte, and Johnson counties) for the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police and ensures our officers are informed of current best practices through the association for community policing in law enforcement. He is also a “Racial Profiling Prevention Instructor” through KLETC and adheres to very strict professional standards the use of force.

We know, though, that we can do more. We look forward to listening, learning, and working with all partners to build a thriving, equitable community.

Shawnee

Mayor Michelle Distler posted the following message on Facebook:

My sweet friend Henry that leads the local chapter of the NAACP sent this message to the mayors and gave me permission to share it. Only love can drive out hate.

To The Mayors

Our unit of the NAACP has no problem with Americans exercising their right to protest, however, we do not support hurting people and destroying property and businesses in doing so. We believe your cities will avoid such problems. However, if something does arise we are here to assist you. We strongly suggest that if trouble seems to be going to happen that you act strongly and decisively in stopping it.

Henry E. Lyons

I am proud to work closely with Henry. I am proud of our community and our Shawnee PD. It is unfortunate for everyone that there have been some bad seeds in this profession of authority. We need to be able to trust and have faith in our law enforcement officers to do the right thing, to be kind, to be professional. What happened was wrong and every one of our officers will tell you that because we have good people and it sickens and hurts them every time the badge is tarnished by a bad individual.

We are an accredited agency by CALEA (Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies). We are only 1 of 10 in the state of Kansas. As such, we have very high standards and this requires us to review and adjust our Policies often. Our Policies are reviewed annually by an outside entity (CALEA) with 1/3 of policies being reviewed every year to ensure that we are following the standard provided by CALEA.

Every one of our response to resistance incidents are reviewed by several supervisory layers in the Police Department. For the amount of people we contact annually our incidents that require this are very low. We do everything within our control to avoid these. In addition, every one of our patrol cars is equipped with an in car video system and we have had body worn cameras in service for a few years now. Both of these are required to be used anytime we make contact with a citizen on a call or self initiated activity.

The state of Kansas requires 40 hours of continuing training for all law enforcement officers annually. Our average training per officer is closer to 100 hours per officer.

We strive to not only be a model in the Johnson County and Kansas City area, but also across the Country. We always strive to improve ourselves and will look to every opportunity to do so.

My heart hurts, as I am sure your does. We must all come together and work together.

Police Chief Sam Larson issued the following statement:

The Shawnee Police Department extends its condolences to George Floyd’s family. His death was unnecessary and wrong. That is clear.

Our mission is to serve our community with purpose and care. That is something our entire Department takes very seriously and it guides our actions every single day. Over the years, we have had great community support for the Police Department and our officers. I believe we will continue to get that great community support and that starts with all of us.

We have understandably received questions and comments about our policies including use of force. We are a Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA)
accredited agency with many detailed policies in place for officers to follow. We deploy in-car video cameras in every police car and body cameras on every officer. We expect our officers to make good decisions, to support good decision-making by other officers, and to intervene should they see poor decision-making by other people or officers.

I am confident our Police Department will continue to do what we have done for many years and set the standard for excellence for all things, but especially when it comes to the way we treat people. We continue to train our officers on several topics to prevent an incident like this from occurring. We have many community partnerships in place with stakeholders in our city that help build relationships with our citizens.

Whether we are dealing with someone in person, on a phone call, in the police station, or out in the field on a critical incident, our officers strive to always be professional and serve our community with purpose and care. We aim to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Let’s continue to focus on being part of the solution by working in cooperation with the citizens of our community. Let’s help lead our community by example as we all move forward to become better. Our officers do an outstanding job day in and day out and we will continue to keep our community safe.

Westwood

Westwood Mayor David Waters issued the following statement to residents:

As I write this, our city and our country have been in the midst of turmoil.  From the continuing threats to our health from the COVID-19 pandemic; to the challenges as our economy and places of business attempt to reopen (but with so many people being left behind as their jobs or businesses have not been lost); to the killing of Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota, and the following protests, our communities may feel broken.  This is especially true for our African-American brothers and sisters, and allies.  In recent weeks—and on top of our health and economic concerns—the killing of Mr. Floyd, the recorded racist incident in Central Park, and the apparent murder of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery as he simply went for a jog, have added so much to their rightful fears and anguish.

I recently shared the following lyrics from Bruce Springsteen’s song, “American Skin (41 Shots)”, with Westwood residents:  “It ain’t no secret, my friend; You can get killed just for living in your American Skin.”  This song, written 20 years ago, was inspired by the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo in New York City, in which Mr. Diallo—reaching for his wallet and identification—was shot 19 times (out of 41 total shots) by New York City plain-clothes police officers.  During this pandemic, as we speak about life returning to normal, we must see and understand that, (especially) for our African-American neighbors, friends, and colleagues, the pervasive threat to their lives, their personhoods, and livelihoods—simply because of the color of their skin, their American Skin—is their normal.  It is “our” normal in America, and it is our responsibility to help change that.

One way the City of Westwood can start is by making sure we keep and maintain a well-trained and professional police department, responsive to all that we serve.  Our police department—either through mutual aid agreements or otherwise—provides police services throughout the metropolitan area.  Being positioned where we are, Westwood also receives guests, visitors, customers, and employees from throughout the metro.  We must listen to them; we must strive to understand; we must share in both their joys and their suffering; we must protect and serve.  As such, it is critically important that our officers understand the expectations that we have of them, and that our residents have of them, in representing us and our city.  We must recruit, provide support, and demand training consistent with those high expectations.

To be clear, there appears to be no justification for the actions of the officer in his treatment of Mr. Floyd, nor for the inaction of the other officers involved that either refused or were unwilling to step forward.  But let no one believe this was an isolated incident, and Westwood — and all of us — must do better and be better.  Westwood has worked hard to build relationships with our minority communities.  Our police department has organized an annual cook-out supported by the Johnson County NAACP, and we are proud sponsors of, and attendees at, the NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy and Scholarship Awards Dinner.  Our officers train on bias-based policing and race relations every year, and have organized listening meetings to build relationships and foster trust.  Our police department has deployed body cameras since 2015, and all patrol cars are equipped with cameras as well.  All full-time officers have completed Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) or similar de-escalation-based training.  Westwood also utilizes the services of a Johnson County Mental Health Co-Responder, in appropriate situations.  Westwood has also supported the “Ban the Box” movement, to remove questions about criminal history from employment applications not related to public safety, in line with previous state- and county-level actions.

Westwood is proud of its wonderful police officers, who put their lives at risk for us every day.  These efforts will and must continue.  They are necessary, but not sufficient, and Westwood is committed to promoting justice and peace for our community and our neighbors.

Westwood Police Chief Greg O’Halloran issued the following statement as well:

When we see a police action like what happened to Mr. Floyd, it is deeply disturbing and sad.  Mr. Floyd should not have died as a result of encountering the police.

As a chief, I may never fully understand every aspect or emotion related to this complex issue, but I can listen.  I can engage in conversations and seek to understand more deeply.  I can offer empathy and compassion and make changes where appropriate.  I can be thankful and inviting to those willing to share their viewpoint.  We can make sure that we understand history and how we may have gotten here.  We can make certain that we have a culture, training and policies that say bias-based policing or excessive force will not be tolerated. That we hire those that want to work in that environment and those who better reflect all we serve.

We can and will continue to offer words of encouragement to our officers when they, as they so often do, do the right thing for our community and those we serve; even when no one is watching.  We can make sure they know that the times they have reached out to the community are valued and they should not be disheartened or discouraged. We need those efforts now more than ever. We can be thankful for, and humbled by, the support from the community.  We can offer patience, respect and empathy to those we contact.  We can serve and protect and with consideration for all.