VENTURA, Calif.-- Law enforcement leaders in Ventura County gave their thoughts on the protests and how they plan to bridge the gap, while keeping the community safe on Wednesday.
George Floyd's death still weighs heavy on law enforcement leaders in Ventura County.
“What we all saw last week was terrible. It was very hard to watch,” said Scott Whitney, the Oxnard Police Chief.
“It was outrageous,” said Darin Schindler, who is the Ventura City Police Chief. “There is no excuse in the video.”
“I get the public's anger,” said Bill Ayub, who is the Ventura County Sheriff. “I share in it. I am pissed myself.”
Now they say it's an uphill battle to connect with those who feel they've been targeted by law enforcement, all while keeping the community safe.
“It is so infuriating to see four individual officers, in a land far away from here, do something that destroyed so much hard work that so many good men and women have tried to achieve over the years,” said Ayub.
“We know that people of color have had a more difficult time with law enforcement on the historical perspective,” said Whitney. “We know that there are amends that need to be made there.”
Protests over Floyd’s death and police brutality have taken place nationwide including here in Ventura County. Hundreds of people protested in Oxnard on Saturday.
“We had about 300-400 people right here in front of our police department,” said Whitney. “We didn’t set up a skirmish line, and there was no conflict with officers. It was a peaceful protest and we are proud of that.”
Several protests have taken place since then, and more demonstrations are planned in the coming weeks.
“We are going to be as hands off as possible,” said Whitney. “What we do is we will do the best we can to connect with the protest organizers to give them some feedback, offer them some guidance, and give them what ever space they need.”
Local law enforcement officers say they stand with the protestors, but they will not stand for violence or looting.
“I get that there is fear in this community and people want to protect their own properties, but we have a well equipped and well trained police force and we feel comfortable that we can handle any problem,” said Ayub.
“The distrust that people have right now won’t be easily rebuilt,” said Schindler. “I think the best way for us to show that is to continue to do the things we do well, and the things that we can do better, work to do better.”