Certainty in Uncertain Times

Summer may almost be here, but it does not really feel like it. There is so much that is uncertain at the moment that it is hard to know what to feel.

It seems like we went from Valentine’s Day, to pandemic, to self-quarantine for weeks on end, to Murder Hornets, to protests and riots and looting in the blink of an eye. So fast, in fact, it is hard to process it all.

It saddens us to drive down Greenwich Avenue and see the boarded store fronts of some national brands. When our business community should be coming together, that some would feel so threatened they need to board their windows, only adds to the uncertainty.

We have been there to cover the protests and vigils. They are important. The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes was horrific, disgusting, inhumane, and so many other words. To protest his murder is completely understandable. To riot and loot is not.

Henry David Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The question for us is where do we go from here?

The protests around the country and here in Greenwich have been against the various police departments. This does not ring true here. Our police department with Chief Jim Heavey and his leadership command have created a department that has a very good relationship with the community it serves.

At the recent protest at the police department the Chief and his staff stood at the entrance while protestors, including a member of the Representative Town Meeting, screamed at them. When the screaming finally died down, a dialogue ensued. Heavey said he was always willing to listen to any community concerns. He always wants to improve community relations. Some were there just to yell.

The dialogue is what is important. Some have criticized our police department for tactics that have never been used and are illegal to use. Others have criticized the department for a lack of transparency because officers do not have wear body cameras that record everything they do while on duty.

Chief Heavey has been very clear he has requested body cameras in his budgets for the last several years. Town officials have declined to fund that request stating the lack of need because of the department’s good community relations.

We have also heard the young daughters of a police officer friend of ours ask why everyone hates their father. People do not “hate” their father. He is a very well respected and respectful officer.

This is why dialogue is important, because when the protests drown out the dialogue, we all suffer. Very little was reported last week about the female New York City police officer, who was African American, and who was shot in the head while sitting in her police car. They arrested an individual for the shooting who was also African American.

The police profession across the country is being portrayed as dishonorable. They are not. In Greenwich our police department works very hard to be “of” the community not apart from it.
We applaud many of those attending the protests and vigils. Our country was founded on protest, and Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Assembly are the cornerstones of our Constitution.

However, we especially applaud Chief Heavey and his command staff for working tirelessly to create a dialogue where everyone’s voice can be heard and where every concern can be addressed. Thank you, Chief, for getting to the “root” of the issue. One thing we can be certain of in these uncertain times – our police department is here to protect every citizen in Greenwich.

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