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Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor
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Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor on ‘the necessity of calling out our own’

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The death of George Floyd has seen law enforcement agencies across the country come under intense scrutiny in recent days. Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor spoke to that last week, emphasizing the need for officers to hold each other accountable.

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“Was [Floyd’s death] the result of racism, anger, improper tactics, or some combination of these things? I don’t know,” Sheriff Pastor said in a Facebook post, titled “The Necessity of Calling Out Our Own.” “I do know that America, for all of its many promises and blessings and for all of its tremendous strengths, has a large, unresolved racial divide. Like it or not, that is a fact. And we see that divide enhanced by incidents like this one.”

Video shows former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck for upwards of eight minutes. Chauvin has now been charged with second-degree murder, while three other officers who were also present at the scene have been arrested as well.

To Pastor, Floyd’s death represents a failure in what he views as the core mission of law enforcement.

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“Policing is not just about protecting lives and property and defending rights and things like that — ultimately, our mission is to do justice and undo injustice,” he told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

“We have to focus on our mission, [which] ultimately is to do the right thing,” he continued. “And to be eight minutes on a man’s neck … is the wrong thing.”

Pastor went on to emphasize the importance of law enforcement behaving morally, and to ensure that officers call out bad behavior when they see it.

“There’s no way to explain this away,” he noted. “We [need to] say it’s wrong. We say why it’s wrong. We remind people that law enforcement is an ethical enterprise. We need to behave morally to make a moral difference. We need to look to the people beside us, and we need to make sure that they are on that correct ethical policing path.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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