Local News

‘A step in the right direction’: San Diego police union leaders respond to Chauvin’s conviction

When the verdict was delivered in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derick Chauvin, San Diego police Sgt. Harold Oliver was in his office, watching a live stream of CNN on his cellphone with bated breath.

While Oliver, president of the San Diego chapter of the Black Police Officers Association, felt “mixed emotions” in response to the conviction of Chauvin in George Floyd’s killing, Oliver said the verdict was “a step in the right direction in the healing process.” He added that the conviction will hopefully allow law enforcement agencies to rebuild trust within communities they serve.

Jack Schaeffer, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, also welcomed the conviction.

“Our justice system has worked again,” he said, adding that he believed the trial was fair.

Schaeffer said Chauvin’s actions broke policy and that “when people do things the wrong way, they need to be punished for it.”

Referring to Chauvin, who kept a knee on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 1/2 minutes, Oliver said “that type of policing isn’t indicative of what the men and women do in our profession.”

He said no one wants “bad officers” gone from the job more than the officers who do the job right. He added that “bad officers” make it harder to “mend broken relationships.”

He said he believes the verdict sends a message: that all officers regardless of their background should treat everyone equally.

About an hour after the verdict was announced, Mayor Todd Gloria delivered his own message to San Diego police officers. The mayor addressed officers over the Police Department’s radio traffic.

“Today’s verdict is just the beginning of building a deeper trust with our community,” Gloria said in part. “Justice was served today against someone who does not represent you, or us, or our department, or who we are as a nation.

With (today’s) decision made, it is now time for all of us to come together to heal and move forward. Please take are of yourselves, each other and the people of this great city.”

In a statement, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore called for demonstrations to be peaceful, adding that deputies “will protect the fundamental right to peacefully assemble and the right to freedom of speech and expression.”

Gore and other police officials, from La Mesa to Escondido, said they were prepared to respond.

Staff reporter Alex Riggins contributed to this report.