After the May police-related death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, incidents of police brutality against Black citizens were the impetus for countless protests and riots throughout the United States. These incidents have placed a magnifying glass over racial biases, procedures and detaining tactics of police everywhere.
Locally, Police Chief Ed Drain assured that the Plano Police Department believes what happened to George Floyd was “tragic and criminal.” Chief Drain made history in February when he became Plano’s first-ever African American police chief.
“The officer holding his knee on [Floyd’s] neck — that is not the way police officers are trained today,” he said. Chief Drain emphasized that it is difficult for someone to breathe if handcuffed while on their stomach; the suspect is to be placed on their side, buttocks or feet. He stated that these handcuff procedures have been standard police knowledge for at least the last 15 years, and he believes that the disregard of such practices in Floyd’s death warrants criminal charges.
After Floyd’s death, citizens took to social media and the streets with demands for more information on how police would prevent the same thing that happened in Minneapolis from happening here.
First, Chief Drain says he is emphatic about proper hiring and training efforts. Beyond Plano PD’s efforts to hire ethical people with proven good character, he said he personally speaks to each potential officer to be sure he or she understands the type of police department Plano has, and to explain its values. It is grounds for termination if the department can objectively show that an on-staff officer has discriminated against anyone.
On June 4 Plano Police posted to social media that its policies already include all eight of the provisions suggested to decrease police violence by Campaign Zero’s #8cantwait campaign.
Topics and procedures covered in the 30- to 35-week basic police academy include de-escalation, implicit bias, the use of a simulator system, running through scenarios officers might face and how to work with those situations. Being part of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®) is another way the department assures it is following proper procedures and best practices, in addition to using technology such as body cameras on all officers when in uniform.
Regarding rally cries across the nation to “defund the police,” or redirect police department funds to social services or community services, Chief Drain says he is confident in the community placement and policing that has been in place over the last 10 to 15 years in Plano.
When asked if one can support the police while also acknowledging that Black lives matter, Chief Drain pointed to himself.
“I’m blue and I’m Black. So I can very easily say I’m blue, I support Black lives and I think Black lives matter,” he said. “I think blue lives matter too.”