by Mayor Simison

Watching the news, reading social media posts, and hearing from members of our community, I feel disheartened by the state of our nation. A human life was taken at the hands of a few who were called upon to protect and serve. Outrage swept through the nation, and rightly so.

There is no excuse for the mindless actions that took Mr. Floyd from this earth and from his friends and family. Those involved must be held accountable, but even then the hole left in the hearts of his loved ones will never be filled.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I fully support everyone’s right to peacefully assemble and civil disobedience when necessary. The key words my support backs is being peaceful and civil. It is our right to be heard and even force the conversation, but it is not our right to destroy property or cause harm to others. I am proud that we have seen little destruction in Idaho, and I am hopeful it will stay that way as the conversations progresses. It is okay to be angry about the situation or angry at those involved. But please, don’t group all officers into the same category.

I myself – like most of you – have not gone through police training and I can’t speak to the mindset or motives of officers when they are performing their duties.  What I can speak to is the zero tolerance policy we have for this type of behavior in Meridian and the abundance of training and compassion of the men and women behind the badge in our community.  To be sure of that, one of the first things I did when elected was review our use of force policy from our Police Department.

To steal a line from our Deputy Chief, “Please remember for every officer like those who killed Mr. Floyd, there are thousands who proudly put on their badge and go to work every day to protect their communities in an honorable and noble way.”

We are fortunate in Meridian to have a caring, compassionate, hardworking, and dedicated team of first responders. But this isn’t by accident. This takes a lot of hard work from both the department and our community members. 

Cultivating an incredible culture in the department promotes treating every person with whom an officer comes into contact, with dignity and respect. This is not just an expectation of leadership, but an example that leadership sets each day. The culture is also kept intact through recruitment and hiring. Our extensive hiring process for each officer may seem rigorous, but it is vital that those selected to serve Meridian have not only the right skills, but the right character.

Hiring the right people lays the foundation, and we build upon that foundation as a community each day. I am proud of the strong relationship our residents have with our police officers, a true testament to both the department and community as a whole. We are very fortunate to have such caring, compassionate, hardworking, and dedicated first responders (in all uniforms) representing the City of Meridian.

We have to listen to the conversations which are occurring regarding racial injustice so we can learn from those who have different experiences then our own and engage in meaningful dialogue as we work together to change as a society.