by Mayor Tammy

I had already started writing my musing for this week when the incident in Dallas occurred (and now the latest in Baton Rouge). I am horrified by what I see unfolding. That musing will be saved for another day… My heart aches for Dallas and Baton Rouge. My prayers go out to their law enforcement officers, their families, and their communities. My thoughts and prayers are also with the families and friends of those lost in shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota and their communities.

Such tragedy. Where is our moral compass at this time in our nation? There is so much hatred everywhere. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of it channeled at law enforcement – even here locally.

Following the news out of Dallas, Meridian Police Chief Jeff Lavey sent a note to his team that said this: “I’m feeling sad, frustrated and angry about what happened in Dallas. I’m trying to wrap my mind about what the heck is happening in our country. Now is not the time to become paranoid or create gaps – it is not an “us versus them”. We must be diligent, aware and watch out for each other. We must continue to do our jobs. Officer safety is always paramount but we have a community to serve in partnership with each other for the common goal of ensuring Meridian remains a great place to live work and raise a family.”

I work alongside our police officers. I can attest to you that our department is one that cares for our community.

Councilman Joe Borton summarized their service perfectly after the Dallas incident when he said, “The Meridian Police Department does care about the safety of our citizens, and its officers, and has been proactively conscious of that mission every day. It is one of the factors that makes our police department outstanding and our city safe.”

Our police officers get ready for work each day not knowing what lies before them. Just last month, a Boise Police Officer was shot in the line of duty. Our officers’ days could be filled with danger as they seek to serve and keep our communities safe. It’s no accident that Meridian is one of the safest in the state – it is thanks to the service of our department as well as their relationships with our community.

Shortly after the Dallas events I received a couple of emails asking for accountability in our police department. My initial response was what makes people think our officers aren’t accountable? The Meridian Police Department’s mission is “to provide the highest quality service in partnership with the community to preserve and protect life and property through education, prevention and enforcement”. The department is focused on accountability and transparency – something enriched with the body worn camera program. The department also has an Office of Professional Responsibility. This includes a strict process of reviewing all public complaints, comments, inquiries and even praise our employees receive and involves our legal department. They have a professional policy manual that is reviewed to make sure it meets or exceeds national standards at a minimum of twice per year, which we hold our officers accountable to. Because of this, we are one of the few law enforcement agencies that is accredited through the Idaho Chiefs of Police Association. And many of you may remember the recent video we had go viral - when one of our officers responded to a dangerous dog situation and handled it without the use of force. This is because of the training programs we use. We take public safety, officer training, preparedness, and accountability very seriously.

Our department has 97 police officers and 26 civilian staff dedicated to making Meridian a great place to live, work and raise a family. I’m thankful for their service, as I am with law enforcement across this nation. Unfortunately there are rare and tragic incidents that cast a shadow on all law enforcement. We simply can’t let that happen. Not in Idaho, not in Meridian.

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