Watertown Police Release Statement About George Floyd’s Death

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Watertown Police Station

The men and women of the Watertown Police Department are deeply disturbed by the death of Mr. George Floyd.  We share the public’s outrage and disappointment, and will not let the actions of a few officers tear away the trust we share with our great community. 

Please see Chief Lawn’s response to emails he received concerning this horrific incident.

Good Afternoon-

The men and women of the Watertown Police Department are deeply disturbed by the actions of those police officers in Minneapolis. I personally was sick to my stomach watching that video.

I am very proud of the work that the men and women of the WPD do every day. We should not be judged or painted with the same brush by incidents that occur in other states.

We strive to be the best police department in the country. Our goal is to build trust and legitimacy in our community. I believe it is evident in the trainings and programs that we have implemented.

Here are some of the things we have done that may answer your questions.

  • We are a very community oriented police department. Community policing is part of everything we do here and have programs that integrate with a variety of different parts of our community.
  • We are an accredited police department. We have volunteered to undergo an extensive review process by outside agencies which hold us to a higher standard, particularly around training issues.
  • We conduct regular training in de-escalation measures and in the proper and improper use of force.
  • We have trained our officers how to handle critical incidents and emergencies and how to minimize its impact on our community.
  • Our officers are trained in biased policing. We recently held training with the Imam from a mosque in Cambridge and staff from St. James Church to educate our officers on cultural diversity.
  • We train our officers annually on how to deal with issues of mental health and substance abuse which is prevalent in our community.
  • We collaborate with the school department, World of Watertown and local clergy to share the principles of Kingian Non-Violence and Conflict Resolution and two of our officers are actually trained instructors.
  • The Town of Watertown conducted a public safety study with an outside consultant in 2012. The Matrix Study (company from Texas) commented during this time that the WPD was one of the best and professional police departments that they have ever reviewed.
  • We carefully choose our supervisory staff and promote a culture of accountability while maintaining high ethical standards.
  • If an officer has to use any type of force, a separate report has to written and reviewed by first line supervisors, division commanders, and finally the Chief of Police.

A majority of our officers have grown up in this community, live in this community, are raising children in this community and have family and friends in this community. We are all invested in making Watertown a safer and better place to live and work.

Many of society’s problems are left with police officers to deal with. I have witnessed our officers purchase clothes for the homeless, diapers for undocumented citizens and toys for less fortunate children at Christmas time. Conversely we receive calls from residents requesting us to displace homeless people living in proximity to their homes. We formed a collaboration last summer with the State Police, Waltham Police, and Newton Police with a focus on bringing support and resources to the homeless population. This proved to be a successful collaboration and our efforts continue.

This is a very difficult time to be a police officer. Incidents that happen throughout our country do not define us as a whole. Policing is a very honorable profession and the men and women of the Watertown Police Department come to work eachday, especially now during challenging times, and treat all with compassion, respect and professionalism.

I encourage you to enroll in our citizens’ police academy that is run every September here at the police station. We have been running this program since the 1990’s. Here, you will get to know our officers and our operations. Everyone who has participated has developed a deeper understanding and greater appreciation of our police department. This program has also provided us the opportunity to meet, interact and become friends with a variety of people in our community.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Thanks,
Mike Lawn

18 thoughts on “Watertown Police Release Statement About George Floyd’s Death

  1. Since moving to town a few years ago, my wife and I have needed to contact the WPD a handful of times, and every officer we’ve interacted with has been extremely kind and professional. Whoever is doing the hiring is getting really great men and women on the squad. Keep up the great work!

  2. I just completed the Citizens Police Academy Course earlier this year. It was a wonderful experience and you will be amazed that our Watertown Police Officers do each and every day. I encourage everyone to take this course. Thank you to all of you for what you do each and every day!

  3. I feel very lucky to live in Watertown and am glad you made a statement that was well-thought out and very informative. Thanks for the work that you do!

  4. Thank you to all the men and women of the Watertown Police Dept. for putting your lives on the line to keep our citizens and communities safe.
    Thank you Chief Lawn for reaching out and keeping Watertown citizens informed. I attended the Police Academy and thought it was great. Informative and fun. Today I have a greater understanding and appreciation for “all” men and women in blue.
    Keep up the great work and stay safe!
    Maryanne

  5. I am born and raised and a life long resident of our beloved Watertown. I know for a fact the Watertown Police are the best. Eleanor Igoe

  6. This ‘response’ to the killing of George Floyd is tone deaf as shit. This sin’t about the police anymore. This isn’t about protecting a predominantly white community. This isn’t about what your specific precinct is doing to “build trust and legitimacy” in said predominantly WHITE community.

    African Americans are being unjustly killed by those who wear the badge every day. African Americans are forced to live in a society that doesn’t acknowledge them the same way as everyone else. The African American population in this country has been hurting for a very long time through systemic, institutionalized, and interpersonal racism that still continues today.

    The police are the ones with power in these situations. Take it upon ALL of yourselves to dig deeper into the unjust systems that are put in place, and acknowledge that an unarmed black man is not a threat to 4 armed officers. People fear and hate the police because of statements like the ones made above — you completely missed the point.

  7. Dear Chief Lawn:

    I appreciate your fine, well-intentioned letter.

    But I have been around the block a few times, am not young and naïve, and cannot be sweet-talked.

    In virtually all cities, too many street police throw their weight around and bully perfectly innocent people. This is well-known.

    Read enough media, and not a day goes by without a story about police corruption, unjustified killings, theft, rape, sex offenses, child abuse, cover-ups, and much more.

    Police do it because they can. Because the rest of the department, all the way to the very top, cover for them. They’re all in on it. Remember the Al Pacino film “Serpico”?

    It was based on facts. The Knapp Commission examined rampant corruption in the NYC Police.

    No doubt that is why the police who killed George Floyd thought they could get away with it. Are we to believe the Minneapolis police chief somehow did not know that those policemen and other police were out of control? Please. He knew and didn’t care.

    It’s called the “Blue Wall of Silence”. Read it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_wall_of_silence

    As for Watertown: I know of at least two cases of outright civil rights violations committed by street police. In the first case, a law-abiding married couple was cruelly harassed. I suggested to them that they file a complaint. But the husband was afraid of retaliation because he lived in Watertown. That’s what police count on: Fear.

    In the other case, the man was harassed by a street cop for no good reason, but he was advised by a relative not to file a complaint because of the possibility of retaliation.

    If I know of these two cases, how many others are out there that we don’t know about?

    That the police investigate themselves is absurd. They cover for each other. The Forms page for the Watertown Police does not even list a complaint form! Take a look. It’s hard to find for obvious reasons.

    https://www.watertownpd.org/201/Forms

    Have the Town Attorney, any Town Councilor, Town Council President, or local media and civil rights groups (“World in Watertown”?) ever examined the complaint files of the Police, assuming that the files are even complete? I wonder.

    Who is seriously overseeing the police from top to bottom to see that they are serving the public and not violating the law themselves? Other police organizations? Oh, please. Let us not be naive.

    Complaints about the police should be handled by a neutral, objective body, not the police themselves.

    Every complaint must go thru the entire top level of town government (including the Town Council) -and- an outside body.

    Two years ago I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast at the Greek Center. I heard big, brave talk from the police about civil rights.

    I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now.

    The question is, what is going to be done about it?

  8. Chief …

    Thank you for this statement. I think it’s important for you to be visible and forthright to all of us in Watertown at this most difficult and tragic time.

    Your leadership and that of your command staff are essential in setting the tone for the “guardian” (rather than “warrior”) role of the WPD — a framework you highlighted during the Citizens Police Academy in 2018.

    And I especially appreciate your commitment to treating all Watertown citizens equally and fairly — without regard to religion, nationality, race, or immigration status.

    … Chuck Dickinson

  9. I’ve only been a Watertown resident for going on 5 years. I’ve lived in many places in 58 years of life. I am often disappointed with Watertown public works, to me this town is one of the trashiest towns in the surrounding area. I’m a service business so I see every town near by. Regardless of that the WPD is by far some of the best officers I’ve ever encountered. For once I can say I’m proud of the blue in the town I live in.
    Thank you for your service and your statement. I do rest easy knowing you dedicated people are on the job!

  10. What we have all scene on tv with the 4 Minnesota Police Dept. officers and Mr. Floyd, was absolutely horrifying and disgusting! Thankfully we would never have to read about or see this with our home town Police Department.

    The Watertown P.D. is for sure first class! Like for instance they just a had one of their best just retire, and people lined the streets like myself to cheer for him as he drove back to the station one last time as a Police Officer. These officers have faced many critical situations and have been put in some crazy scenarios. That being said I can’t remember one incident where I heard that wow, they really messed this one up. Thank you all for what you do to help keep the citizens of Watertown safe and a great place to live!

  11. Thanks so much. A wonderful and heartfelt message to all of us. This message should be publicized everywhere.

  12. Thank you Chief Lawn and all of the WPD officers. Watertown residents are are proud of you, your service and your dedication to truly community policing.
    Stay safe while you keep Watertown safe.

  13. I think you miss the point. I found your letter defensive. This a time to dig deeper, not act as if everything is ok. Do you honestly think there are never times when you and your officer looked the other way or dismissed a legitimate complaint? Where is the transparency? Where is the accountability? Where are the public records about complaints? Even the most well-intentioned require this. Do you require your officers always turn on body cameras when they answer calls?

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