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Birmingham Police Chief on death George Floyd and importance of community relationships

Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 4:57 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith says his career was molded by the Rodney King riots Los Angeles.

Today, as a former Minneapolis Police Officer is charged with 3rd degree murder for the death of George Floyd, Chief Smith speaks out about Floyd’s death and the impact injustice at the hands of police officers has on the community.

“To be honest with you it was very difficult to watch.”

Smith says things should have been handled differently and that the four officers should have been able to subdue Floyd without incident.

"It degrades the trust in all law enforcement not just one area. When things like this happen it’s spreads throughout the country. It makes all of us go back and check our relationships and make sure we are doing things the right way,” Chief Smith said.

The right way means treating people with respect and compassion. Floyd’s death has lead to protects across the country even here in Birmingham. Smith said he has a lot of young officers. They have to make sure they are trained properly to handle confrontations.

The chief was a young officer himself on the Los Angeles Police force during the Rodney King riots.

"I know first hand what it is like to come back and build trust in the community and build trust with individuals and it is a very long road,” He said.

Smith said community relationships are key to building trust but there is always that concern detrimental could happen here.

"It only takes that one, to fracture the relationships we worked so hard to build,” Chief Smith said.

Chief Smith took to social media Friday to support the decision to fire the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the arrest of Floyd. He says he chose to speak up in part because in the past some may have stayed quite he felt it was necessary to stand up and say this was wrong.

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