The City of Salida and Salida Police Department Denounces Excessive Use of Force in Policing

The City of Salida and the Salida Police Department have been shocked, angered, and saddened by the events occurring in Minneapolis and around the world.

We would like to thank our citizens for their continued support of community policing during these difficult times. We fully recognize that bias and systemic racism exists in our country, our states, and our local communities. We all have a responsibility to reflect inward, educate ourselves, and hold ourselves accountable for our actions.

The City of Salida and the Salida Police Department unequivocally condemn the actions of the individuals and the systems that tolerated and enabled the unacceptable cruelty that lead to George Floyd’s death.

The Salida City Council, Mayor P.T. Wood, City Administrator Drew Nelson, Police Chief Russ Johnson, and all City employees denounce the actions of the Minneapolis police officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death and those in the profession who dishonor those they are duty-bound to protect and serve. The women and men of the SPD are as disgusted and outraged as the rest of our community by the senseless violence that pervades our country.

The Salida Police Department takes several steps to ensure fair treatment of ALL individuals they contact. The SPD’s policies and procedures require the following:

  • Recruitment and Selection – The SPD is mandated to recruit and hire only those individuals who demonstrate a commitment to service and who possess the traits and characteristics that reflect personal integrity and high ethical standards. Our recruitment standards require the identification of racially and culturally diverse target markets, use of marketing strategies to
    target diverse applicant pools, and stringent background and psychological testing to screen for the most capable, professional, and empathetic officers to fill our ranks. The SPD is the most diverse of the City’s departments, with minorities, women and immigrants making up 30% of our law and code enforcement officers.
  • Training – All SPD officers average around 200 annual training hours (9.6% of time on the job) that consists of classes related to anti-bias training, community policing, de-escalation techniques, and various hold/restraint methods intended to provide law enforcement services to the community with deep regard for the racial, cultural or other differences of those served.
  • Body Worn Cameras – SPD officers are required to wear and use body worn cameras when they contact members of the public. All footage from body worn cameras is subject to the Colorado Open Records Act (with exceptions for sensitive personal information) to provide transparency and access to the public.
  • Anti-Bias – The City of Salida and the SPD explicitly prohibit any bias-based policing that would involve the inappropriate reliance on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, economic status, age, cultural group, disability or affiliation with any group as the basis for providing differing law enforcement service. Officers take proactive steps to establish contact with persons and groups who are likely targets of bias-motivated crimes to form prevention and response networks; provide victim assistance; and educate community and civic groups about bias-motivated crime laws.
  • Use of Force – The SPD’s Use of Force Policy specifically prohibits applying pressure to a person’s neck that is sufficient to make breathing difficult, such as a chokehold. Any use of force is required to be documented by the officer and their supervisor. In the event that a complaint about an officer’s actions is filed, the City may convene a Police Review Board to review the incident and make recommendations about discipline, if applicable.
  • Accreditation – SPD is one of only 40 law enforcement agencies in the state of Colorado to be accredited by the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP). This accreditation requires the SPD to maintain high “Professional Standards” in our operations. The accreditation was recently renewed for another 5 years due to the hard work of the SPD team in achieving professional milestones.

The Salida Police Department strives to meet the needs of every one of our citizens and constantly seek input through community programs like Coffee with a Cop, our School Resource Officer program through Salida Public Schools, our Ride Along program, the Positive Ticket campaign, Communities That Care, Shop with a Cop, and many other initiatives designed to collaborate with important stakeholders and improve our community relationships. We understand that it takes our whole community working together to make a difference.

Recently, with protests and events occurring all across the country, we have been asked by several individuals and groups to speak about these challenging times. We invite all members of the community to reach out to us to discuss any concerns they may have and we ask that our community
unite and work with us to protect Salida from the hatred that has been seen around us. The City of Salida and the Salida Police Department fully support the First Amendment to the US Constitution’s right to assembly and free speech through peaceful gatherings and protests, and we ask all members
to respect the views of others through civil discussion, debate and a common goal to improve our City.

The City and SPD will continue to have an open dialogue because we value the relationships that we have with our citizens, business owners, civic groups and the education community, and we know by working together we can prevent violence and distrust between law enforcement and the
community in which we proudly serve.

For more information, please contact City Hall at 719-539-4555.

Terry West
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