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Central Coast leaders respond to George Floyd’s death


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- On Friday, local law enforcement and civic leaders responded to the death of George Floyd. Floyd died on Monday while Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers were handcuffing and pinning him to the ground.

The Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow and San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deanna Cantrell both made public comments in a statement about the death that has made headlines and fueled protests around the country.

In her statement Chief Luhnow said, "I believe this to be the responsibility of all police leaders, whether the message is to defend unpopular actions of police officers, or, as in the case of George Floyd, bring attention to harmful and hurtful actions by officers whose poor decisions tarnish the profession. I am deeply disturbed by Mr. Floyd’s death. It was preventable and should not have happened."

She added, "Police officers have a duty to uphold the law. I expect our officers, myself included, to apply the law in a way that prioritizes and respects the sanctity of life. That includes a duty to intervene when officers are acting outside of the law or policy. It is our policy and our moral obligation."

San Luis Obispo Police Chief Cantrell stated on Twitter, "We mourn the loss of George Floyd and can assure you that SLOPD is working on crisis intervention, principled policing and treating all people with dignity, neutrality, respect and trustworthiness to ensure this type of incident never occurs here."

In Santa Maria, branch NAACP president Lawanda Lyons-Pruitt said the video of the incident involving Floyd and the officer was sickening and, "This should not be happening in 2020."

Lyons-Pruitt added, "Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. No one should be treated better. Everyone should be treated equally."

Retired FBI investigator Dan Payne spent 31 years investigating violent and civil rights crimes. He said based on what he saw in the video there was no reason for the officer's actions.

"If you're being suffocated," said Payne, "if your ability to breathe is being compromised in some way, you're going to be struggling to try to breathe. And that was what I was seeing in the video. Not that he was trying to struggle against the officers."

All four said the community needs to come together to end racism. As for the police both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara chiefs said training and building a connection with minorities in the community is key to preventing this from happening here.

"We have open dialog," said Chief Cantrell. "When we first started meeting in 2017 we didn't understand each other. We didn't understand all of the challenges faced by marginalized communities, the fears, the needs. And our marginalized communities didn't understand policing and complexity and difficulty of policing in today's world."

Article Topic Follows: Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County

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Scott Sheahen

Scott Sheahen is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Scott, click here.


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