By David Ogden, police chief, Town of Windermere
Do what’s right. It’s that simple.
I remember hearing Coach Lou Holtz say, “There is never a right time to do the wrong thing and never a wrong time to do the right thing. All we have to do is what is right.” Yes, sometimes it is that simple!
We extend our deepest condolences to the Floyd family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Our actions will reflect our vision statement, “The Windermere Police Department will be an exemplary police department that achieves all aspects of our Critical Mission Goals. We shall comply with all laws, adhere to a high level of ethical standards, and earn the trust of the community that we serve.”
It’s OK to support law enforcement and also condemn officers that are wrong at the same time. In fact, that is one simple way we can earn trust. For me, this isn’t a debate or a political statement. I don’t make those kinds of statements on social media and have not commented on use of force cases in the past. It is too toxic of an environment, too often nothing is as portrayed accurately as situations unfold and commenting often is an exercise in futility and not fruitful. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is right, it’s honorable and it’s just. It is simply what is right, and my direction to our officers is clear on this issue.
I don’t have all the answers, and I wasn’t called to fix all the world’s problems. I know my Command Philosophy is for each officer to take care of themselves mentally, physically and spiritually. Attention to each of these areas is critical to the overall wellbeing and success of an officer to treat everyone right. There are many great resources here in Central Florida that will address these issues to give you balance. If you are in law enforcement and uncertain where to seek guidance, I am offering to help and connect you with any of these resources if needed.
I’ve also been blessed to have a long career in law enforcement as a leader, a professional trainer, Force Science instructor and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who has developed scenarios and techniques to teach police how to handle arrest procedures just like this situation that are taught in agencies all over the state. Here at WPD, we train our officers on multiple-officer subject control and the obligation to use due care for anyone in our custody. Those materials are free to any law enforcement agency who wants them.
We are all angry, upset, outraged and disgusted with what we saw being done to George Floyd. It is wrong! It hurts all good law officers willing to risk their lives for strangers and the profession we work hard to make right. It places further fear and tension between everyone. It also puts citizens, officers and their families in danger from those who choose revenge as their own form of justice.
But words do little unless we all are willing to take some positive action. Our residents should know that this will not happen on our watch in the town of Windermere. We have trained and continue to train to treat people with dignity and respect even when force options are necessary. We mourn the senseless loss of George Floyd and pledge to never participate in or standby and watch this happen in our town.
Let’s outdo one another with honor by serving well. Just do what’s right. It’s just that simple.