A Message from Grand Junction Police Chief Shoemaker #GVCopBeat

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00380Doug Shoemaker 001
GJPD Chief Doug Shoemaker

“Many of you may be aware that I’ve taken to social media over the past week to express my anger over the death of George Floyd, a man who died at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers last week.  Not only was Mr. Floyd asphyxiated by an officer, but three other officers stood and did nothing to intervene.

It’s no secret that I’ve taken a very public stand against this, and my feelings haven’t changed.  I’m angry at the actions (and inaction) of these suspects (previously employed as police officers), and I’m angry how it paints my profession, one I’ve devoted my life to for nearly 29 years.  I’m angry that I know so many great police officers who work hard to do the right thing, and the Grand Junction Police Department, an agency I chose to leave Jefferson City, Missouri for, is a shining example of what a great agency can be.

But let’s face it – we’re not perfect. We have work to do locally. Not only as a police department, but as a city. We have to challenge ourselves to think on a broader scale and take on uncomfortable discussions as to what we’re not perfect at, then take steps to improve.  I made the public statement calling out other members of law enforcement for reacting by making statements which I would equate as posturing, which has, admittedly, been met with some mixed emotions by a small number of people who responded. I’ve been criticized by some for how we’ve handled the protests, which have all been peaceful, from both those who are very angry with police in general as well as those who feel inconvenienced by the blockage and temporary closure of some roadways.

I have met with my staff to explain my thoughts, and was, not surprisingly, told that they too were angry over the situation, and that we as a profession need to do better. It speaks volumes as to their character, and I’m proud to serve beside them.

During this same time, I’ve also met with some amazing people in this community. Coach Jackson, our new CMU Football Coach, and I have connected and formed a team, one team, to start these discussions on how we can all be better listeners and better show empathy towards one another, instead of intolerance. Coach has been an outspoken advocate of having conversations that are tough to have, and I cannot explain how much respect I have for him and the members of the CMU Football team, who peacefully protested and came to talk to me and ask me those same tough questions. I listened, and I pledged to go to work, but I cannot do this alone. Our department cannot do this alone. Our community, all of us, must take a moment to pause and consider others’ experiences that we don’t have and have not lived – but we need to listen if we’re going to get through this and get better as a community.

We’ve already taken some first tangible steps – after meeting with protestors on Monday, on Tuesday I met with Coach and other members of the CMU Administrative Team, with strong support from President Foster, to have conversations with student leaders from CMU’s Black Student Alliance and the Cultural Inclusion Council. They asked tough, intelligent questions that deserve our answers, and I cannot say how much I appreciate the opportunity to speak with them and hear their experiences. One of many conversations to come, the next of which will happen this Friday.

Our goal in this is complex.  Keeping our community safe – our entire community – is the number one priority.  We respect the right to peacefully protest, and on my watch we will honor that without exception. We’ve had conversations to ensure we do whatever we can to protect both those who lawfully protest, as well as reassure our residents we are keeping peace. We want others to see what we end up accomplishing and look to us for guidance within their own communities to be that example on how to truly learn to better respect and understand one another.

Lastly, we’re looking at everything within our own agency, and our staff has welcomed that. We are questioning everything and seeing how we can improve. I’m not naïve – I understand some will criticize us no matter what we do as never good enough, but my pledge to you, as was my pledge to our CMU Football team and other protestors who came to the PD lobby on June 1st, is that I will do my best.  This is a marathon, however, not a sprint, so I appreciate the grace in allowing this to build on a solid foundation over time.

We will, as a community, become that much better. We have to.”

22 thoughts on “A Message from Grand Junction Police Chief Shoemaker #GVCopBeat

    DF said:
    June 3, 2020 at 12:29 pm
      Jen Foster said:
      June 4, 2020 at 9:10 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time to connect with our citizens proactively. This is exactly what I was looking for, police creating a citizens group. I have met more than one GJ police officer with incredible communication skills. Thank you so much for your leadership. Keep asking for community support. Let GJ lead by example.

    Erica K said:
    June 3, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Thank you for this message. 🙂

    Your personal compassion, understanding, and responsibility in policing is evident from your responses this week.

    Peace to you, Erica Kitzman 970.260.8913

    john anglim said:
    June 3, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you, chief. I watched your exchange with the CMU players and others on live stream. I commend you on your focus and sensitivity. Also, a shout out to the officers i encountered at the candlelight vigil. They were friendly and professional and kept a very low profile. Outstanding work guys. It all starts with seeing and hearing one another. We go from there. Most of us are doing the best we can. We can all do better.

    Sarah Dishong said:
    June 3, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    More and more I am impressed with the leadership, compassion and sense of community with Chief Shoemaker. He has come into our community only wanting the best for its citizens and officers. As I watched the video of the engagement in the lobby of the PD, I was impressed with the chiefs willingness to listen, his responses and the conveyance of the departments willingness to work for equality in the community. His statement today reflects his commitment to the values and safety of our community.
    My hope is this will present more positive opportunities throughout the community.
    With my deepest respect, Thank you! Sarah Dishong

    Fran Parker said:
    June 3, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you, Chief Shoemaker. I’ve been wondering whether you have had a chance to compare the policies and procedures of the GJPD with the recommendations of the President’s Commission on 21st Century Policing. I would like to see a community conversation about how our local practices could be improved and am very interested in participating in that conversation. I am not familiar with the Commission’s report but am willing to study it and apply my analytical/research skills to the task if that would be helpful in preventing future violence.

    Mickie said:
    June 3, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness, and willingness to listen. We all have so much to learn.

    Ruben said:
    June 4, 2020 at 9:53 am

    Thank you and your work force for all you do. You are appreciated.

    Kathleen Taylor said:
    June 4, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Thank you for speaking up Chief Shoemaker

    Luis Muñoz said:
    June 4, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you Chief for your wise and conscientious words.

    Our society is made up of good and bad professionals, unfortunately few recognize the magnificent work of the Police. And in moments like this we are remembered as crapulas.

    The attitude of this so-called Police Officer must be taken to the last consequences, this to be an example for society and for the corporation!

    I say and I repeat, a Great Police has an Excellent and Active Internal Affairs. A watershed between those who are policemen and those who are really policemen.

    I Love and Respect Police work, I dedicated my life to the fulfillment of law and order.

    I believe in our true heroes !!!!!!

    Sandra Vigil said:
    June 6, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Chief Shoemaker,
    I appreciate you for communincating with the citizens of this city, it is appreciated. I also agree with your views of Mr. Floyd’s death..I do also believe in peaceful protesting, however I don’t necessarily believe blocking roads and making people angry at the delay serves the purpose and is dangerous. A woman in that group also threw a water bottle at a car with a child in it, and then the woman in the car did a U turn to confront the protester , which was more dangerous . The protest are going to happen, but with the repor you have with those leaders mayne you can get them to stay out of the roadways to avoid those situations. My other question to you is” what can we do about the drivers in our town” who continually run lights ,stop signs, and ignore other basic driving rules of the road. No offense to your officers but I have been at lights, seen people blatantly run those lights with a patrol in the front of the line see it and do nothing. Maybe there is a policy that prevents the pursuit? In these times where our city has lost so much revenue due to the pandemic, our city could be financially better off with all the revenue in tickets from these people who feel entitled to drive how they want with no regard to whom they may hurt or kill if they cause an accident. Thank you for listening, and your service to our community

      Aaron said:
      July 12, 2020 at 10:46 pm

      The GJPD is, like most, about 10% understaffed. They are usually on their way from one waiting call to another. Although traffic enforcement is important; there are nearly always more urgent 911 calls waiting for officer response. Many of us citizens are concerned with the growing aggressiveness of drivers here. The best we can do is continue to support our first responders with our voices and our votes; especially in these times.

    EARL Copeland said:
    June 6, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Thanks for your service. I stand with the blue 100%. BTW, I lived in J.C.Mo for a while. Was on Dewberry Dr. for a year and in Elston for 8 years before moving here in “02. Moving back before much longer.

    RP said:
    June 6, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    Wow great writing. The philosopher cop. How refreshing.
    Not that we hold you to that standard but the sentiments are appreciated by our household.
    I feel like police should join this protest. It’s not just about police brutality but also am inept covid response, inept economic response, divisive political responses and an impotent opposition, a lack of faith in our leadership.
    We feel that cops have been asked to do the impossible. First responders to suicides and horrible accidents- lack of mental health infrastructure- stagnant wages and the pressure that can break us and result in a call to 911- where is the extra support for you guys. The brothers in arms code seems to have prevented cops from discussing the fairness of their expectations or asking for relief/help.
    We are all in a pressure cooker and being turned against each other at the highest levels.
    This is the problem and a conviction won’t help. I actually feel sorry for those cops. Sorry but that’s biz as usual, not a bad apple in a city (it’s way different here in a mid size town like gj).
    Thank you for your leadership. When a movement emerges from the chaos demanding a better system, more public spending, more infrastructure, perhaps a value added tax, ubi to keep people from the depths of the pressure cooker, consider the conversation about joining it. Last thing we can do is turn on each other.

    First Amendment said:
    June 6, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    You can improve by remembering your names. You can improve by identifying yourself when asked to do so.

      Curt said:
      July 17, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      Drugs this idiot is dangerously warped

    ross E transmeier said:
    June 7, 2020 at 4:30 am

    Steve Alire homicide in Grand Junction has NOT been investigated. Why?

    Martin Wiesiolek said:
    June 7, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    I appreciate your reactions, transparency and willingness to aim for higher standards. Thanks for addressing racism and unprovoked violence of some police officers. Glad to have you as a Police Chief.

    Michael Voon said:
    June 8, 2020 at 9:16 am

    I have called Grand Junction home for over 6 years during my education as a foreign student from Malaysia. Reading this is a wonderful assurance that my GJ friends and loved ones are in safe hands. We in the world are called to unite ever more closely in these trying times. God Bless.

    Dianne Littlefield said:
    June 12, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    God richly bless you as you move forward with some plans to be better! I admire your dedication to serve and even more your outlook about a better future. Thank you for leading and not following. Thank you for your respect and understand. I’m terrified when I see what’s happening in our country but then people like you step up and I’m not so afraid anymore!

    Jc said:
    June 24, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    How many Caucasian’s have been killed or mistreated by law enforcement in America this year .
    Making statements regarding police and their actions against races without including ALL races is a racist attitude

    Robert Archulets said:
    August 21, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    I find the drug and alcohol crime and scum goes with em are the ones far past in need of what they got. Of course the government and police are harmless to stop all that to.

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