SBJ Newsroom – Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore recorded a message to the Salem community earlier this evening to address concerns by people regarding events over the last few days. Below is a transcript of the that video. The video can be found on the Salem Police Department’s Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/3OwzCgC8b6g or on our social media pages.
Salem, I am Jerry Moore, your Chief of Police. I am addressing you today during a time of turmoil like this community has rarely seen. This community is hurting, like many others in our nation, and our job is to make you feel safe and secure.
I have lived in this community all my life and unfortunately, we are living in unprecedented times with many undesirable firsts for us. This is the first pandemic we have faced in my life, the first time the City of Salem has instituted a curfew, the first time Salem Police Officers have deployed gas in a crowd management environment in Salem.
Many things weigh heavily on me today. The fact that we have had to respond to unlawful assemblies with force. That we have not been able to enhance the connections needed to resolve demonstrations peacefully. The fact that people feel that we are treating people unequally.
A streaming video many of you have seen has resulted in phone calls and emails decrying the words which were spoken by one of our officers. The message we have received is a concern that we are treating people differently. For that I tell you, I am sorry. Sorry that there is even a thought that this department would treat some different than others.
I know the officer involved. Like me, he has dedicated his life to this department and this community. The impact the interactions captured on the video had on our community has been discussed with the officer. Unfortunately, he had not been fully briefed about enforcement of the curfew before he spoke with the group. Moving forward, all officers tasked with enforcement of the curfew will be properly educated before deployment.
We police behaviors and situations, not individuals. Every situation is different, but is assessed methodically: can we legally take action, what are the dangers to the public, what are the dangers to officers, what crimes are being committed, and can we safely deescalate the situation? Each event and person must be evaluated, and our responses are different based on the answers to those questions.
We are lawfully bound to weigh the severity of the crime against the level of our response. Lawfully armed individuals violating a curfew does differ in severity from people throwing bricks and bottles during an otherwise peaceful demonstration. As such our responses will vary accordingly, but without favoritism or bias.
We understand the feelings of fear that large groups of people openly carrying firearms in our city can create. Though they gather under the guise of protecting the city, that is our responsibility not theirs.
Our history has always been to assist and watch over lawful, peaceful demonstrations. We will continue to do that, be it open carry Second Amendment advocates or Black Lives Matter advocates, we just want people to obey the law and stay safe. In fact, we have recently and are currently meeting with organizers to assist them on how to meet our mutual goal of peaceful demonstration.
As I said in a previous letter, we hear you. As a learning organization that values community we are always listening and responding to needs and concerns. Thank you for your time.