Brevard Police Committed To Protecting Everyone


Last updated 6/8/2020 at 3:06pm

George Floyd. Say his name. We as a nation and law enforcement community should never forget his name. George Floyd was a victim at the hands of his protectors, four Minneapolis police officers. The actions of one officer and the three officers who failed to protect Mr. Floyd all appear criminal and must be investigated and presented to the courts for the justice he and his family deserve.

Police departments must continue to improve our vetting and testing of new officers to assure they have the proper values and abilities to do the job. It is a hard job, by the way. We serve those who need protecting from those who would do them harm. The training must be continuous to assure the long-standing principles we built law enforcement upon are honored.

What is the process of hiring and training our officers at the Brevard Police Department?

A prospective officer goes through an extensive background check with the Brevard Police Department and the state of North Carolina. Both must agree that the candidate is suited for the job of officer. The background essentially reviews that person’s entire history to assure they have the proper values. Once that is assured, they take a battery of psychological tests administered by a professional office that does this type of testing for many police departments. They know the questions, tests and queues to determine with a fairly high degree of predictability how well that recruit will perform as an officer.

There are automatic disqualifiers that reject a recruit. Ties to racist groups, racist tattoos or a pattern of criminal history are among the deal-breakers for the Brevard PD. Qualified recruits must be certified through the North Carolina Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) program, about 750 hours of classroom and field training. Once we hire that graduate, there are an additional 12 weeks of field training before we allow an officer to work alone. During that time of testing, we assure our Departmental principles are honored in all we do. What are those principles?

Fairness, which involves adhering to the constitution and laws we swear to uphold so all citizens anticipate that they will be treated equally.

Integrity of the officer in honest conduct and strong moral behavior while following the same rules we expect others to follow.

Respect of others and treating all as we would like to be treated.

Service focused on doing for others and expecting nothing in return.

Teamwork building in the department and in the community. Our partner is our community and their support allows us to improve the safety and well-being of our citizens.

Our principles are posted on our walls and on our marked police vehicles. They are also incorporated into all of our operations orders and directives. When I receive feedback on service to our community, those principles are our beginning point to review how well we performed the service to you, our customer. If we did not meet these principles, we likely failed. If we achieved those goals, we set the standards and service expectations for all officers to follow.

We will continue to grow as an agency. Our officers maintain ongoing in-service training to better serve their community. It is woven into our behavior and displayed on the uniforms we wear. The state of North Carolina also supplements that training with required annual instruction. The state emphasizes the improvement of service to those who have been neglected and marginalized over time. I know how committed this yearly training is to our principles because I sit on the state board that designs that training.

The Brevard Police Department commends our employees who embody fairness, integrity, respect, service and teamwork in their day-to-day operations. Those beliefs form our culture. For the past 10 years, it has been my commitment as the police chief to strengthen those service values. When I arrived, I found an agency that did not need retooling. Brevard citizens have been well served. My job was to fine-tune our direction and ensure we continue to improve as a team that works with and for those who call Brevard home. One of the highlights of my job is hearing how our employees go above and beyond to help the community in times of need. Thank you for sharing those experiences with me.

We must remind ourselves that perfection in life is unachievable. Police work is no different. We will have service failures locally and nationally. The average officer has at least 10 citizen contacts a day and works an average of 200 days a year. With 25 officers on our department, that is 50,000 contacts with our citizens in one year for Brevard’s police department alone. Nationwide, the contact number multiplies to between one and two billion. Of course we will fail in our delivery of service which may involve an officer that treated someone rudely at a traffic stop, applied too much pressure on the handcuffs, or completed an insufficient investigation on a missing purse. And, tragically, in those two billion calls, an officer may use excessive force that results in injury or death of someone the officer should have protected. When that happens, the officer involved should be investigated and held accountable in the criminal courts of justice and the court of public opinion.

Retaliation and rioting won’t return George Floyd to his young daughter. Remembering how his life was taken is critical so we redouble our efforts to prevent this type of tragedy in the future. In my 40-year career, I have worked with many remarkable servants in policing. Many of those servants work until retirement and by the nature of the job it takes a toll. The ones who use heavy-handed tactics and have poor character don’t last. They get run out of this career by other officers. And we are hiring less and less that appear headed for that fate through better hiring practices and training. When we do fail, the solution is to look at that failure, place the blame on the individual who acted, not the entire profession, evaluate the failures that allowed the tragedy and correct anything that contributed to the failure. We may wear the same uniform, but we are not the same people.

My ongoing commitment to the Brevard Police Department and to our citizens is to set the direction and example I want others to follow.

I will remember the name of George Floyd. We would have protected him. We will protect you.

(Harris is the Chief of Police for the city of Brevard.)


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