Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida – who served nearly three decades in law enforcement and who’s under consideration as the running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden -- is taking aim at the police officers in Minnesota involved in the death of a black man who was pinned to the ground for several minutes.
The congresswoman from Florida, who rose through the ranks to become the Orlando Police Department’s first female police chief and who’s black, penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled: “As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?”
A video recorded by a bystander on Monday showed a white police officer in Minneapolis kneeling on 46-year-old George Floyd's neck, as Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”
He died a short time later at a nearby medical facility. By Tuesday morning, the video had gone viral across the nation — sparking protests in Minnesota and in other parts of the country and putting the incident and the broader issue of racial attitudes by law enforcement against African Americans back in the national spotlight.
Demings wrote that when “an officer engages in stupid, heartless and reckless behavior, their actions can either take a life or change a life forever. Bad decisions can bring irrevocable harm to the profession and tear down the relationships and trust between the police and the communities they serve. Remember, law enforcement needs that trust just as the public does.”
And she urged police offices to “Think before you act! Remember, your most powerful weapon is the brain the good Lord gave you. Use it!”
Pointing to the incident in Minneapolis, Demings joined a chorus of calls “to hold the officers accountable through the criminal justice system. But we cannot only be reactive. We must be proactive. We must work with law enforcement agencies to identify problems before they happen.”
And the congresswoman urged that as “As a nation, we must conduct a serious review of hiring standards and practices, diversity, training, use-of-force policies, pay and benefits (remember, you get what you pay for), early warning programs, and recruit training programs. Remember, officers who train police recruits are setting the standard for what is acceptable and unacceptable on the street.”
Biden announced in March that he would name a woman as his running mate.
Demings, a two-term congresswoman who grabbed national attention as one of the House managers in the impeachment of President Trump, is considered to be one of the roughly dozen candidates under consideration to be the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nominee.