At the June 9, 2020 City Council meeting, Mayor Ray Russom read a statement on behalf of the Council and City leadership regarding the City’s position on the tragic death of George Floyd, the dedication of the City’s Police Department and staff to continue to look for ways to best serve the community, and an upcoming opportunity for the public to be involved.
Police Chief Beau Pryor also provided a statement regarding the integrity of the Arroyo Grande Police Department and steps ahead.
Statement from City Council and City leadership:
“The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other African Americans and People of Color have made it clear that we need to confront the systemic racism and inequalities that continue to plague our country. We mourn for the loss of their lives and for the suffering experienced by so many.
As leaders of the City of Arroyo Grande, we feel that silence is complicity: We must be a part of the solution, and this requires action. We must act so that all of our citizens experience the freedom that our Constitution protects. We must act so that no more lives are lost. As citizens of this country, we are compelled to individually and collectively reflect on the unique and precious lives that have been ended and our parts in the system that lead to their deaths. We are compelled to address, head-on, the systemic problems and challenges we all face as a society. And we must do this – unified – with a sense of urgency and unwavering commitment to end race-based killings and violence toward our fellow human beings.
Our City Police Department in Arroyo Grande provides a high level of service through a diverse set of officers who are committed to serving and protecting all members of our community and treating every person they encounter with dignity and respect, no matter their race, ethnicity, abilities, or socioeconomic status. At the same time, we are committed to taking action to ensure that we are part of the solution and to end systemic racism in our country. As part of this commitment, the City of Arroyo Grande will take direct action to examine our own practices and enact improvements in training, accountability, and community relations for our City Police Department. A discussion of these policies and practices will occur at our City Council meeting on June 23, 2020.
In addition, we will review practical and effective changes, such as enhanced training for police in de-escalation practices; updates to use of force policies and protocols; more transparency and accountability in the discipline of officers who break rules; and efforts not only to continue to diversify police forces, but also to provide more nuanced, racially-sensitive training.
We must also look to methodical, tangible and inclusive ways to restore and further foster a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the communities of color who depend on officers of the law to be a model of both justice and compassion. We have heard you, and we will continue listening to the needs being expressed for justice, for inclusivity, for fairness, and for safety for all of our citizens.
The system must change. In our role as civic leaders, robust civic discourse requires responsiveness and open public discussions. It requires action to address problems and injustices. Your City leadership is committed to seeking an unwavering foundation of truth as we work together to unhinge the systematic behaviors of the past and present, in order to bring us to a brighter and inclusive future.”
Statement from Police Chief Beau Pryor:
“I appreciate the opportunity to join in the conversation of police reform and we look forward to future dialogue with Council, staff and members of our community.
Let me begin by saying that I, along with your entire police department, am deeply disturbed by the circumstances that precipitated Mr. Floyd’s death. It was preventable and should never have happened. The actions of the officers that caused Mr. Floyd’s death have tarnished the entire Law Enforcement profession. What happened in Minneapolis is not reflective of who we are at the Arroyo Grande Police Department.
We are a very diverse department and it is an honor to lead the organization and serve the community and our visitors for the past 26 years. Our staff is made up of men and women from many different backgrounds and includes many People of Color.
All of your Police Officers, including me, took an Oath of Office to serve this community and protect the rights of ALL persons. An example of this occurred Friday, June 5th when we worked with the Grover Beach Police Dept., Pismo Beach Police Dept. and other allied agencies to create a safe plan for a peaceful protest exercised under the 1st Amendment. I, along with the Grover Beach Police Chief, John Peters, and Pismo Beach Police Chief, Jake Miller, were present during the protest and interacted with the participants to exhibit our support and ensure a safe demonstration.
Lastly, I want each of you to know that your police department is here to listen to you and we want to work with you to improve our policies and to improve our training, because this will allow us to continue to build community trust and enable us to provide better service to our community."
The Council will be hearing from Chief Pryor about the Police Department’s current training practices and policies at their next meeting on June 23rd at 6 PM. As always, the public is encouraged to participate regarding ways to improve these practices. Meeting information will be posted on the City’s website Agenda Center.
Bill Robeson, Acting City Manager
Whitney McDonald, Acting Deputy City Manager