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Head Of Houston Police Union Urges Cops To Speak Out When Fellow Officers Do Wrong

a police car
Thomas Hawk/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Much of the anger in the wake of George Floyd's death has been aimed at Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing him. But Chauvin wasn't the only officer there. Why, many have asked, didn't the three other officers on the scene stop him or help Floyd?

Joe Gamaldi is president of the Houston Police Officers' Union and national vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. After Floyd's death, Gamaldi tweeted that officers should speak up if they see a fellow officer doing something wrong. 

He told Texas Standard host David Brown that in the Houston Police Department, where he works, internal complaints filed by officers about one another are three times higher than complaints about officers from outside the department. He said that goes a long way toward "doing away with the myth that there is a 'blue wall' of silence."

Gamaldi said cases in which an officer confronts wrongdoing by a fellow officer aren't as visible to the public as incidents in which rogue behavior isn't challenged. 

"You're never going to see those things because that's not going to make viral news," Gamaldi said. "But we need people to step up in all instances to make sure that we don't have an incident where someone has now lost their life."

Gamaldi said police are better trained and more diverse than ever. 

"Just here in the Houston Police Department, we are a majority-minority department," he said. "You are already seeing a better police department than you have ever seen before. We just have incidents where these things happen, and it sets us back."

Gamaldi said officers "need to have rights as well" when it comes to incidents in which officers and citizens come into conflict.

"Although [the George Floyd case] is clear-cut, that these officers are wrong, I think every reasonable person can say in most use-of-force cases and shootings and things like that, it is not as clear-cut whether that officer made a mistake or not," Gamaldi said. "Unfortunately, they are tried in the court of public opinion."

Gamaldi said officers are currently putting themselves at risk to protect protesters. 

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.

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