By Sue Webber
Rogers Police Chief Dan Wills said last week that the days since the death of George Floyd have been “an extremely trying time for our agency and community as we grapple with the needless and tragic death of George Floyd.”
Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis May 25, while being restrained by Minneapolis Police officers.
Speaking at the June 9 Rogers City Council meeting, Wills said, “We all shared the same shock and horror watching that video, and there is absolutely no room for police officers like that in this honorable profession.”
Wills said on June 10 that “no looting or criminal behavior occurred in Rogers as a result of George Floyd’s death.”
“In the days after Mr. Floyd’s death, some of our neighboring communities experienced looting and other criminal activity, and our city was certainly not going to be immune from that either,” Wills said in his remarks to the City Council. “Many of our officers willingly canceled scheduled vacation time to come into work and defend our city and businesses over a period of several days.”
Wills said he believes their efforts “undoubtedly thwarted criminal activity from occurring in our business community over those difficult days.”
“This truly was a team effort city wide, and would not have been possible without the support from council, city leadership, and our residents,” he said.
Inquiries have come to him from Rogers residents regarding what the Police Department is doing to ensure that its officers are “highly trained and ethical,” Wills said.
“We have a very robust training program,” he said. “The Minnesota Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (POST), who regulates our peace officer licenses, requires minimum training standards be met every three years. However, our officers go through much more training than what is minimally required, and we focus extensively on topics such as:
• Implicit bias
• De-escalation tactics
• Use of force training with an emphasis on scenario-based de-escalation
• Mental health crisis intervention
“Furthermore, we have comprehensive policies in place, that we re-visit often, to ensure our officers act within the scope of their duties and with integrity,” he said.
Regarding use of force, Wills said the Rogers Police Department does not authorize choke holds, and added that any use of force incidents are reviewed and critiqued “in a timely manner.”
“We require our officers to intervene if they see a fellow officer acting in an unethical manner,” Wills said. “Additionally, we have comprehensive polices in place that prohibit any type of discrimination and/or profiling. Should we ever encounter that, I can assure you we will deal with that swiftly and severely, as there is no room for that in our city or profession.
“As a matter of transparency, we have in-squad cameras and microphones on our officers to ensure we can document our interactions with our citizens during calls for service and/or traffic stops.”
Wills said he has implemented a complaint procedure that accurately documents any complaints against an officer to ensure accountability and transparency.
“We are continuously reviewing our policies and procedures, and adjusting them as necessary,” he said. “Our city council and residents have high expectations of our police department, as they should, and we demand excellence in our agency.
“We at the Rogers Police Department strive each day to ensure transparency and trust within our community. I have been the chief here for nearly a year, and can tell you that I have not seen another community that is so heavily invested in and supportive of their police department, and a police department that is so heavily invested in their community. This is not by coincidence, but the result of continuous efforts to bridge gaps, ensuring effective communication, and maintaining the ability to truly listen to each other.
“There is a lot of room for discussion and action regarding policing in America, and locally, in the weeks and months to come.
“We never want Rogers to be a city where someone feels like they don’t have a voice, or are underrepresented. We strive for community inclusion, and the city council, city leaders, and our employees will continue to try find new and innovative ways in which we can connect with our citizens. There is always room for improvement, and I am looking forward to the important work ahead of us,” Wills said.