SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV ) – When it comes to police, “protecting and serving” on our streets, the proper use of force almost always comes in question. Police chief’s in three of Chatham county’s largest departments came together to talk about it at an NAACP meeting Sunday.
This is all coming on the brink of four metro officers facing disciplinary action after tasering a Savannah man.
“Every call is a potential opportunity to do a great job and it’s a potential opportunity for someone to make a mistake,” says SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin to a full Bolton Street Baptist Church.
Tybee Island Chief Bob Bryson alongside Chief Lumpkin with Metro and Chief David Lyons at Gardent City PD talk to members of the Savannah NAACP as well as the public about police use of force.
“There are misconceptions and that’s the point and that’s the point of having these kind of meetings to, well for the public to tell us what they think and us tell them why we do things the way we do,” says Chief Lyons.
Metro police have not had an officer involved shooting since October of last year. this meeting comes on the though heels of the departments move to discipline several officers involved in the arrest of Patrick Mumford who was tased by police then found to not be the suspect they were looking for.
“I did meet with Mister Patrick Mumford and I personally apologized to him,” says the metro chief.
The chief issued a formal statement saying the actions of the officers did not reflect the department and their policies. Addressing the use of force was a small part of the overall meeting that talked about handling mental health both in officers and with those they interact with in the community.
“You can get a fight out of a preacher if you push him hard enough and this teaches the officers to bring it down, bring it down a level even if you’ve got to walk away,” says chief Lyons.
Chief Lyons adds that GCPD has completed its second week of class on deescalating encounters so they don’t turn violent. Both he and Chief Lumpkin assuring those in the meeting use of force for police is what they train as the last option.
“Meetings like this helps us understand each other and we get our definitions close to, and if we are communicating we may not be agreeing upon everything but at least we are hearing the other parties thought.”
Chief Bob Bryson also took part in the forum. He’s just returning from visiting the nation’s capital to talk policing strategies used in modern law enforcement ranging from building community relations to more transparency in departments.