Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett: ‘Derek Chauvin does not represent us’
Tuesday’s conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd was an emotional moment for many across the United States. For Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett, he saw it as a necessary first step toward earning back the public’s trust in law enforcement.
As Mylett pointed out, many of Chauvin’s fellow officers testified under oath to confirm that he “did not act within policy,” making for a stark contrast to law enforcement’s more insular reputation.
That’s part of what he believes is a larger shift away from the days where an unspoken “code of silence” among officers often hindered investigations of police misconduct.
“I’ve been wearing the uniform for 32 years and I’ve witnessed the transition of that code of silence,” Mylett told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “That is all but gone now, … and so it did not surprise me to see the chief get up and say that Derek Chauvin did not act within policy, and it didn’t surprise me to have fellow officers of the Minneapolis Police Department get up and say that does not represent us.”
“I would have been very, very disappointed if I heard anything different,” he added.
Even so, the last year of protests demanding large-scale reforms to policing has laid bare the strained trust between the public and law enforcement.
For Mylett, he sees Chauvin’s conviction as a necessary building block toward repairing that relationship, while keeping his own own department “focused on why they became police officers.”
“And that is to serve the public,” he clarified. “They realize that we are not that police department and that Derek Chauvin does not represent us.”
In service of that, BPD has enacted a series of reforms over the last year, including formalizing the department’s de-escalation policy; having officers go through a course taught by members of the FBI in recognizing unconscious racial bias; and launching the brand new Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) program.
That will see the department receive training on how to properly intervene in situations where fellow officers may be “actively making the wrong decision.”
“This certainly applies to use of force and the wrong level of force being used in a situation, and training officers to stop an officer from doing something that either they’re unintentionally doing or they’re intentionally doing, and then report it,” Mylett described.
“We’re constantly looking at our operation, listening to the community, and making adjustments,” he added.
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