As you know, Middletown Division of Police Chief Muterspaw has spent the last couple years working on building stronger relations between the Police and the community. The Chief and I attended several community dialogues after the unrest in Ferguson Missouri last year. The City operates the Citizen Advisory Board to advise the police on community-related matters. The Chief has started regular meetings with pastors in the city. We have the National Night Out coming up on August 2nd at Berachah Church. Coffee with a Cop has become a great quarterly event at Triple Moon Coffee. We have teams of bike patrols out at city events such as the July 2nd fireworks and the Ohio Balloon Challenge over the past couple weekends.
With all of our outreach and all of our ongoing conversations, the events taking place between police and the community in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas over the past couple weeks have shaken the country and frankly, have shaken me as well.
We have been blessed in Middletown that a police officer has not had to discharge his weapon on duty for many years now. We train on how to keep these types of events from happening here. We hope that the time never comes when our residents and our officers are faced with life threatening choices.
That being said, our police officers, like you, are human beings. We are capable of mistakes. When faced with a potentially life threatening situation, the officer has a split second to make a decision that could end his life or the life of another. Training sometimes doesn’t kick in for that split second.
That’s when we all pray that the relationship developed between our residents and our police officers help both sides make the right decision. We hope that we know you well enough to keep a stressful situation from escalating into a life threatening situation for the resident or for the officer. We hope that if it escalates, we know you well enough that we don’t feel threatened in a way that leads us to pull a lethal weapon, and we hope that you know us well enough that you trust us to do our job professionally with integrity regardless of your race, religion, income level or sexual orientation.
Robert E. Richardson, president of the Cincinnati NAACP, wrote an article in last Sunday’s paper stating that now is the time to build bridges, not barriers. MPD and your city government are doing everything we know possible to build those bridges. We are here and ready to engage as needed to buy all of us that extra moment of clarity in life threatening situations and to value the lives of our residents and our public safety forces.
Your public safety team, Public Safety Director VanArsdale, Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw, Fire Chief Paul Lolli and I, are all available to meet with any group that would like to meet to further build those bridges throughout the community. We care about all of you and we value your commitment to Middletown by living, working and playing here on a daily basis.
I think it’s time we all offered a prayer to the communities affected by violence over the past few weeks, and that we pray that our city continues to find peaceful ways to build bridges over difficult situations.