One year later: Local police share how George Floyd’s death has changed their departments


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Tuesday marks one year since the death of George Floyd. His death sparked nationwide movements against police brutality and racism, and prompted many states to ban or restrict police use of chokeholds. 

People, organizations, activists and police officers have all been impacted in some way or another since Floyd’s death. 

“I think George Floyd’s murder impacted almost every police department in this nation and beyond this nation,” said Chief David Catholdi with the Brighton Police Department. 

Many in law enforcement admit the video of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck was hard to watch. 

“I think when we first saw that video as a police leader, executive, the first thing you were thinking of was, you know, who trained that technique and what kind of training is occurring across the country?,” said Chief James VanBrederode with the Gates Police Department. 

After Floyd’s death, there have been calls for police reform across the country. In New York, Governor Cuomo directed every police agency to come up with reform plans. 

“We’re implementing a lot of deescalation strategies, we’ve implemented racial justice training, we’re going to be implementing a citizen interview panel,” Chief Catholdi said. 

Chief Catholidi say he’s also seen police officer’s relationships with the community change, especially those who are out on the streets. 

“I see it in them, I worry about them. We had such good relations here in Brighton specifically and in Monroe County, and it’s really damaged the trust between the community and the police department,” Catholidi said. “It’s a real blow to the morale of the police officers. Nobody got in the business to take a life. We’re in this business to help people.”

Many police recognize there are some bad apples in departments, but officers like Heidi Kaiser say most joined the business to assist others. 

“I want to help people. That’s why I got into this. And I know the vast majority of officers that I work with want to do that too,” said Heidi Kaiser, an officer with the Brighton Police Department. “We try to show people we are there to listen and we will do the best we can and even the people that are against us.”

Police acknowledge that the death of George Floyd has started an important conversation about what communities need from police.

“We’ve had a lot of great conversations around our community locally about what police should look like, and what police should be doing and we want to know what our community expects from us and what are the expectations you have of us,” said Chief VanBrederode. 

Police also recognize more work needs to be done. 

“There was quite a bit of damage in the relationships and the trust we had gained here in this community and across this county, so we as law enforcement have a lot to do,” Chief Catholdi said. 

On Tuesday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with George Floyd’s family today at the White House. 

Currently the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is stalled in the senate. The legislation would set up a national registry of police misconduct and ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement. 

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