Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte said he understands “the rationale” for protesters speaking out against the death of Minneapolis’ George Floyd.
“I’m an African American male, born and raised in Kansas City, and I’ve been racially profiled myself,” Forte said, “and so I understand the frustration level. I understand it and I’m not surprised by it.”
Forte said that if the wrong person is leading a protest, it can “morph into a riot at any time.”
“Kind of like an organization, if you have the wrong person leading that group, regardless of what level – it doesn’t necessarily mean title – if you get the wrong person and you get that flash point going, then it’s a point of no return,” Forte said.
He also said that racism is real and can be seen in housing, banking, sports and education.
“Why would anybody think that we take an oath and that everybody that has biases that might impact how they treat people will go away?” he said. “We have to stay on top of those things. We have to look at the disciplinary records.”
Training officers and ensuring they understand proper procedures when interacting with people of any race “starts at the top,” according to Forte.
“You have to have leaders with integrity,” he said. “You have to have leaders with enough courage to say, ‘We’re not going to do this,’ and expect and require people to report infractions.”
Most officers and sheriffs, according to Forte, treat people right. But that, he said, isn’t good enough.
“We need 100 percent to treat people right because that small percentage, as you all know, that small percentage creates problems for the rest of us,” Forte said.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck during an arrest over an alleged counterfeit bill, has since been charged with murder and manslaughter. He and four other officers also were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.