Prior Lake Police would never display the heartbreaking, frustrating callousness that led to George Floyd’s death last month under the knee of a white, now-fired Minneapolis officer, Chief Steve Frazer told the City Council Monday.
He noted the city’s officers undergo continuing education on implicit bias, a term for the unconscious prejudice that can warp someone’s actions, and have worn body cameras for two years.
“You can’t be in modern law enforcement and not be talking about these issues,” Frazer said during the council’s meeting.
“We are here to serve,” he added. “We can’t forget that.”
Frazer and other city officials also heard plenty of anxiety about potential unrest or violence in the area, but every lead or warning turned out to be unfounded, Frazer said.
The week’s police reports provided by the department included more than 40 calls about suspicious activity or vehicles and more than 100 extra-patrol logs. But actual crime reports and calls for help were more or less ordinary, Cmdr. Brad Cragoe said after the meeting.
Racism and bias will take root anywhere it can, Mayor Kurt Briggs said, saying his thoughts were with Floyd’s family and praising the communication among area agencies as nonviolent protests and occasional rioting wracked the Twin Cities over the past several days.
“Bigotry and prejudice will not find safe harbor in the city of Prior Lake,” Briggs said.
Hennepin County charged former officer Derek Chauvin with murder and manslaughter charges after Floyd’s May 25 death, which followed a report of a counterfeit $20 bill. Videos of the scene show Chauvin and other officers pressing Floyd against the ground as the man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and eventually became unresponsive.
Protests, marches and riots almost immediately erupted in Minneapolis and throughout the country, with participants pointing to a long line of black men, women and children killed or mistreated by police after either minor violations or no wrongdoing of any kind.
Gov. Tim Walz and other leaders deployed the National Guard and declared nightly curfews in Minneapolis and St. Paul to control and prevent looting and other violence. The suburbs for the most part have been quiet in that regard.
“I get the pain, I get the frustration,” Frazer said. “There is no reason George Floyd should be dead.”