Once again, Terrie Turner led me to a powerful Facebook post, one which I want to share with you today. It’s longer than the pieces I usually publish, but each word is important, and his passion and anger and commitment are like waves pulling the reader to the end. I am grateful that a police officer has the courage and integrity to speak out in this way.
A policeman speaks out
by Dave Bissonnette, Bristol, Rhode Island
I’ve had numerous people approach me and ask me my opinion regarding the police use of force in Minneapolis. I normally don’t speak out like this in such a public forum but my heart is broken with what I am witnessing across the country and right here in our own state and I feel the need to say something.
I have been a police officer for 19 years. For 16 of those years, I have taught Use of Force and Police Arrest & Control techniques at the recruit level at the Municipal Police Academy and at numerous departments throughout southern New England on an in-service level. I have trained thousands of cops. My training not only includes physical tactics and techniques to control a violent and combative individual but also the physiological, psychological and legal aspects that officers face during this type of event. I am a certified Force Analyst through the Force Science Institute and also teach a course in police diffusion and de-escalation techniques. I have conducted numerous Police Use of Force reviews throughout the state and am considered a subject matter expert by the RI Attorney General in the area of Police use of Force. I’m not saying all this to impress anyone. I really don’t care what anyone thinks about me. I’m saying it because I want to establish credibility with anyone that reads this post. I know what the f**k I’m talking about.
I have watched and reviewed the George Floyd video countless times. In all my years doing this, I have never seen a more blatant disregard for human life than what I witnessed in that video. It haunts me. It made me sick to my stomach. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve seen plenty of suffering and death in 19 years but have never watched a man die while the people who are supposed to protect them watched it happen and did nothing.
Kneeling on someone’s neck is not a technique that is taught or accepted anywhere that I’m aware of. As a matter of fact, we specifically tell recruits and cops NOT to kneel anywhere near the spine or neck because you can paralyze or kill someone. There are countless other ways to control someone on the ground that don’t involve putting your knee into a person’s neck with all your weight for over 8 minutes.
That is my professional opinion. Now for my personal feelings on the matter:
To “Officer” Derek Chauvin, who is the officer seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, I have this to say to you: You Bastard. You Son of a Bitch. You and two other officers knelt on George Floyd’s neck and back and you watched him die. George Floyd was handcuffed and proned out on his stomach. Please don’t say you were holding him down because he couldn’t have pushed himself up off the ground if he wanted to. He was controlled. Once someone is controlled the use of force ends. Period. It is then the officer’s duty to check the well being of the subject to be sure he is not hurt or in distress. I don’t care how hard he fought you. I don’t care if he was on drugs. You had a duty to act! The smug look on your face said it all. You didn’t care that Mr. Floyd was begging for air and calling out for his Mother. You have no honor. And the other three officers are just as culpable. They didn’t act to stop you. You are all cowards. I wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire.
Now the country is burning down. And you were the spark. Your fellow officers are getting injured and killed. Even officers in your own city. Your brothers. I hope you can live with that for the rest of your life. I hope you can live with the suffering and pain you started. You have put us all in a position where we now have to defend ourselves against angry mobs with bricks and bats and other weapons who group us in with you. Well I am not like you. We are not like you. You are the 1%. I will NEVER be like you. I would rather die than be like you.
To my family and friends and those I care about who are not police officers and maybe don’t understand, please know that no one hates a dirty, piece of shit cop more than a good cop who does this job with honor and pride. I beg you, do not judge the 99% of good police officers based on the actions of an ignorant and evil few.
If you want to protest what happened, please do. Reach out to me. I will march with you peacefully just like thousands of other cops across the nation and mourn what has happened. I will kneel and pray with you. And when I put my uniform on, I will protect your right to peacefully protest because I took an oath to do so.
To my brothers and sisters that put on this uniform every day. Do not let what you see on TV jade you into thinking that this is what it is all about. The majority of people out there are good, honest hard working people who support you and what you stand for. Remember that. We don’t want to be judged by the actions of a shameful few and neither do the people we serve. Support the people we are sworn to protect. Hold your heads high and serve with honor and integrity.
To the rioters, I speak for all of law enforcement when I ask: PLEASE STOP. Your actions are solving nothing. You are not mourners or protesters. You are thugs and opportunists. You are cowards. You are destroying people’s lives and your behavior will not be tolerated. People are going to get hurt. Please do not test our resolve when it comes to protecting our flock. Enough is enough. This is not the legacy that George Floyd deserves.
Thank you for listening.
This piece is very, very powerful…brings tears…for so many things, for so many people. Thank you, Officer Dave; you are a credit to the force and to the country. God bless you!
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I am not a spiritual person so to speak. That being said, Officer Bissonnette I want to say “Bless you”
today and always. Thank you so much sharing your wise words.
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Wow! Thanks for posting this and thank you Officer Bissonnette. You are a real cop and I honor you!
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I’m grateful this was posted both by the officer and by Ruth. There is great complexity in this situation. No one group should be judged on the behavior of a few no matter what group we are talking about….AND, the systems in place that allow for unjust use of power and force are a detriment and a shame to both those who are meant to be protected by the system and those who work for the system.
Dave Bissonette…I thank you for being willing to express both your professional and personal views on the horrid way that George Floyd had to die! I honor you for daring to speak out publicly and I hope that your courage will allow others in your profession to do the same. I don’t want us to paint all police with the same brush and your telling it like it was helps the rest of us to know the difference between dedicated members of the force and those in it for the sense of power it conveys!
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