I have been giving considerable thought to the circumstances we, as a community and country, are currently facing. We are all coping with the stresses related to quarantine, including the separation, financial impacts and other disruption of our normal lives as well as the inexcusable death of George Floyd and the equally intolerable underlying factors that have allowed similar situations to occur far too frequently.
The inexcusable behaviors we all have seen in the video of Mr. Floyd’s death are contrary to our values, policies and training.
For the past several days, I have been frustrated, confused and mostly infuriated. I keep coming back to the question of “why?” Why are we still dealing with bias and racism? Why does this problem still exist? We all know better, we are better and yet, here we are.
As I write this, I am also thankful. I am thankful that I live and work in a community that has higher standards. I am thankful that the law enforcement officers in our community are competent, compassionate professionals who “get it”. I am thankful that our community has embraced their absolute right to protest and make their voices heard without tearing down our buildings and setting our community on fire.
I am thankful that we are willing to cut each other a little slack to vent our frustrations.
At the Island County Sheriff’s Office we are committed to our core values of service, professionalism and accountability. I didn’t make up these words to market our office. They were chosen from a list submitted by our employees.
These are not just words, they define our purpose.
We will continue to do our work with these principals as our guide. We will continue to make enforcement decisions based on facts and circumstances without regard to skin color or any of the other things that make us individually different. Law enforcement is something we do with and for the members of our community, not something we do to them.
Let’s be strong, resilient and listen to each other. Legitimate communication and leadership will carry us forward. Rage and hate will only hold us back.
• Rick Felici is Island County sheriff.