DENVER (KDVR) — Current and retired law enforcement officers are weighing in on the Chauvin guilty verdict.
Kenneth Chavez recently retired from the Denver Police Department after 42 years, 20 years as a command officer. He said the verdict signals that the U.S. justice system works and will hold people accountable. But he cautioned against allowing the verdict to convict all police officers.
“I hope everyone realizes this was one individual held accountable for a crime. It does not mean the entire profession. There are many good-serving, good-intentioned men and women of law enforcement that serve our community every single day. But I think this is a watershed moment in our profession. Accountability clearly demonstrated and I think there will be lessons to learn not only for law enforcement, but the community, law enforcement leaders, government officials and prosecutors.” Chavez said.
Retired Aurora Police Lt. Mike Dailey said he was surprised by the verdict.
“I was somewhat surprised he was found guilty on all the charges,” Dailey said.
Dailey said he does not think Chauvin got a fair trial.
“I am surprised they didn’t change the venue. They kept it right there in Hennepin County. They could’ve moved it. The second thing going on is the constant demonstrations in the city have to play on the mind of the jurors there because now you’re sitting on this jury, thinking ‘Even if I don’t think he did it, if I say that, they are going to burn the city down.’ So I believe there was a certain amount of pressure on the jurors to come back with a guilty verdict. They are weighing a lot of stuff, welfare of the community, his rights, the facts of the case,” Dailey said.
“I don’t think he’s guilty of murder, but I do think Officer Chauvin made poor decisions that day and did not handle the situation correctly. Now that he’s been found guilty, officers on the job and future candidates are going to look at this and say ‘Gosh, this could’ve been me in that very situation. Things got out of hand and I could be on trial for something.’ I think taking this officer to trial in Minneapolis puts a chilling effect on officers all over the country because time and time again, situations get out of control. you try your best to keep it under control, bring it back under control, but sometimes the outcome is not what you want,” Dailey continued.
Both Dailey and Chavez agree there are lessons to be learned from this incident.
Chavez said, “It shows the public will hold officers accountable for a death they believe is unreasonable or criminal or both. It will make law enforcement profession look upon itself to serve the community better. I hope the community can also appreciate this is one individual’s actions and not a demonstration of the entire profession. Most interactions between the police and the public are service-based and safe.”
Chavez said some people may re-think entering the policing profession, but he hopes exactly the opposite will happen. “I hope it stirs people to become law enforcement officers to serve the community and that it will have an overall positive outcome for the entire nation.”