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Our Region is Talking: Police Chiefs from Cape Cod and Nantucket, Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission and Cape Community Leaders Respond to George Floyd’s Murder and Widespread Civil Unrest

Yesterday, on a Zoom call initiated by Frank Frederickson, Yarmouth Police Chief and President of the Cape and Islands Police Chiefs Association, Police Chiefs from the 15 Cape towns, Nantucket and the Barnstable Human Rights Advisory Commission (HRAC) led a call to discuss the murder of George Floyd.  Community leaders across the Cape were invited to join the conversation, totaling over 50 participants.

The Chiefs wanted to strongly express that their police departments do not condone the type of lawlessness witnessed in the George Floyd case and reaffirmed that they continually take steps to ensure that police on Cape Cod and Nantucket have a community-friendly approach.

Chatham Police Chief Mark Pawlina said he likes to think of his officers’ jobs as one of customer service and communicates that regularly with his department.  They see their role as guardians of the public, not agents of control.

Town of Barnstable Police Chief Matthew Sonnabend explained the extensive training that their officers undergo on an ongoing basis. He talked about the training they receive on a myriad of subjects, including racial discrimination, sexual assault, bullying, as well as the efforts they take to recognize and address the high stress their officers can experience.  Chief Sonnabend and several other Chiefs also detailed the steps they take during the hiring process to bring in the best people.

During the hour and a half call, participants conducted a frank exchange of concerns and ideas to enhance and improve community relations.

The Human Rights Advisory Commission anticipates that this exchange will continue on an ongoing basis.  The HRAC wishes to extend its sincere gratitude to Chief Frederickson and all the other Police Chiefs for putting the meeting together.