Editor’s Note: The following is an op-ed submitted to BeaverCountian.com by Scott L. Bohn, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. We are publishing his opinions in full as written. More information on the death of Tyre Nichols is available here.
The death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of police officers is disgraceful and reprehensible. The brutality suffered by Mr. Nichols and the failure of any of these individuals to intervene leaves everyone, including police officers, dismayed and outraged. Our thoughts go out to the Nichols’ family and community. Our Association does not routinely inject ourselves in matters that occur in other States; in this case our opinion is not only necessary but the appropriate thing to do. It is our obligation to reaffirm our values, our oath, our sworn duty and our responsibility for the protection and inviolability of human life.
The officers involved were dismissed from the force last Saturday after an internal investigation found they had violated multiple departmental policies, including using excessive force, failing to intervene, and failing to render aid. The officers were criminally charged in Tyre Nichols’s death. There is no excuse for their actions. They have betrayed their oath of office, disgraced the law enforcement profession, and brought shame on the officers across the nation who work selflessly each day to protect their communities.
Police brutality, negligence, and the failure to render aid are reprehensible unacceptable. The actions of these officers adversely impact all of us in the in law enforcement profession who have worked so hard to gain the trust of those whom we have sworn to protect. As an Association of police leaders, we are committed to providing our members with guidance on best practices and policy. As police leaders we remain committed to emphasizing dignity and respect for all and instilling within our agencies a fundamental commitment to the preservation of human life.
The PCPA’s mission is to assist and support Pennsylvania police departments in attaining the highest level of professionalism. The vast majority of police officers in Pennsylvania undergo the most up-to-date training on implicit and overt bias, the appropriate use-of-force, modern de-escalation techniques, cultural diversity, and fair and impartial policing. There has been an emphasis on controlled tactics training, so if an officer is confronted with an individual who refuses arrest, the officer knows what measures are appropriate and effective without increasing risk of injury.
Association introduced the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation process for police departments in 2001, thus ensuring participating agencies’ policies reflect the most modern and progressive 21st-century policing practices and promotes community trust and accountability. We have promoted “A.B.L.E.” – Active Bystander Training for our leaders and their officers. Over the last decade, law enforcement leaders have made great efforts to engage the communities they serve and protect. They have engaged in meaningful and productive discourse with elected officials, citizens, community leaders and clergy.
The PCPA Executive Board and the members of our Association join the overwhelming number of our leaders in disgust regarding what has been reported and will be released in video. Our officers have continuously shown that they are compassionate individuals who are willing to sacrifice their safety for their fellow citizens. It is our moral and professional duty to reflect the values of our community, and we are proud and committed to upholding this obligation.
We understand that this video may open “old wounds” from cases where officers betrayed their oath. We understand that many will be outraged by the actions of these officers. It will collectively shock the conscience of police officers and citizens alike. We cannot bring back Mr. Nichols but we can honor his memory and respect the wishes of his mother and family members who are calling for calm and peaceful demonstration. We want nothing more than to hold these officers accountable, but in doing so, we need to come together as one and continue to find ways to prevent such horrific things from happening in the future.
Scott L. Bohn
Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association