Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bland Comments From City Leaders

The tweet from Congressman Henry Cuellar makes no mention of police brutality.  His thoughts on the current crisis around the country go as far as the Twitter character count rule. 

I unequivocally support our country's law enforcement, who work every day to protect our communities.  However, supporting law enforcement doesn't mean we can't have transparency & accountability.  We must do better to provide liberty & justice for all, including #George Floyd.

LPD Union President Rogelio Nevarez sticks to the noble causes of police officers.  It's tone deaf, among other things. 

We've been out in the community for six decades now, and we've given thousands of dollars in scholarships and have provided thousands of backpacks, we've done Christmas presents for all of the kids, so we've been doing things in the community, and part of the union is community service.  I don't know what perception they have of it, but our whole purpose is to make sure that we are here for our officers and their rights as employees and that they are equipped and trained properly.  (Another role the union plays is negotiating salaries for officers, making sure compensation is commensurate with the dangers that come with the job.)

And finally the city.  Mayor Pete Saenz and City Manager Robert Eads give the killing of George Floyd a little more thought.  There are hints of reassurance towards the public, that acts of violence from police can be reported.  See if you can spot them.

The City of Laredo firmly believes in the right to peacefully assemble and have your voice heard. The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the death of countless people of color throughout history, has spurred nationwide protests and reignited the dialogue about institutionalized racism and justice in this country. We send our condolences to the family of Mr. Floyd during these most difficult times.

We are not silent on this issue. Our city leaders have taken progressive approaches to protect the rights and safety of our citizens and have a zero tolerance approach to racism.

Our police force is composed of a highly trained, experienced, and diverse group of men and women who reflect the faces of our citizenry. 

The Laredo Police Department has consistently engaged the community residents in a meaningful way that show not only are police officers here to protect them, but that they are also available and within reach so that they can communicate any concerns, make suggestions and network with their police department to make their community safer and more progressive.

Public activities such as Coffee with a Cop, bike rodeos, collaborations with our local university and community college are just a few of the many ways that we invite and open lines of communications with our citizenry to allow them to get to know us and understand the specific issues in our city.

Citizen engagement through our social media channels, which gives alerts and news updates 24-7, and the Laredo PD app which allows citizens the opportunity to participate in the reporting 

of crimes with complete anonymity, have become meaningful venues of communication.

New technology and continued citizen engagement opportunities are the progressive, proactive paths to better communication and citizen engagement.

All of this is done with the well-being of every citizen in mind and inclusive of new innovative ideas and adopted best practices which make the Laredo Police Departments one of the best police departments in the country.

We welcome this opportunity to have a city-wide discussion about injustices in our community. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, City Hall and all public buildings have been closed to the public since April 14, 2020. Online, phone and drive-thru services remain uninterrupted.

Given the current COVID-19 safety precautions that are in place, anyone can request a virtual meeting with the Mayor, the City Manager, or any elected official by contacting their office and going through the proper channels.

Our city and our employees continue to work for the safety and justice of all Laredoans.

(I emphasized some words)

No mention is made of past lapses by local police.  And there is no emphatic denouncement towards police brutality.  There is no mention of the process by which a person can submit a complaint of police abuse and the recourse that one has. 

A rally was held at city hall, on May 30, relating to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.  No city officials were present at the event.  And when rally organizers attempted to speak to city officials this week, nobody from a position of power made themselves available.  They can meet with the media, face to face, but they can't make time for their own citizenry.