One bad cop can taint and shake the trust between communities and police departments nationwide, Palestine Police Chief Mark Harcrow said Thursday.
Harcrow cited the death Monday of George Floyd – an unarmed, handcuffed black man – in Minneapolis by a police officer who pinned Floyd's neck with his knee for several minutes.
The incident reverberated across the country.
“All the work we do to build trust within the community seems like it can be washed away by one bad cop,” Harcrow told the Herald-Press. “We feel the effects of what an officer in Minneapolis did.”
Harcrow said law enforcement agencies must police their own to maintain credibility with the communities they serve. Police officers should not see themselves as separate from, or above, the community, he said.
A growing debate in the black community questions whether African Americans should even call law enforcement.
“Building trust in our community is what matters to me,” Harcrow said. “I don't know if we'll ever get to 100 percent support, which is disheartening. We just have to work that much harder to overcome these things.”
Floyd, 46, died after pleading for help, as former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin used his knee on Floyd's neck to pin him -- unarmed and handcuffed -- to the ground. Chauvin continue to kneel on Floyd's neck for several minutes, while Floyd said repeatedly he couldn't breathe.
Outrage over the death of Floyd sent hundreds of residents onto the streets of Minneapolis over the past couple of nights.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, as reported by CBS Minnesota. Chauvin had been a Minneapolis police officer for 19 years.
Along with officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, Chauvin was fired Tuesday, after viral arrest footage triggered a national outcry, days of intense protests, and demands for a federal investigation.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the police departments Third Precinct. Some protesters brought signs and some threw rocks.
A temporary fence in front of the station was knocked over. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags fired at rock throwers.
Harcrow said he doesn't need to see more video, or evidence, before deciding if Chauvin should be criminally charged in the handling of Floyd's arrest.
“I didn't need to see anything else,” Chief Harcrow said. “Doesn't matter what happened before that video. [Floyd] was in handcuffs.What that officer did in that video is inexcusable.”