Officials from across the Hudson Valley are speaking out on the death of George Floyd and the demonstrations, some of which have been violent, across New York.

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Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest on Memorial day. Video of Floyd's arrest shows an officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd says he can't "breathe." Four officers involved in the fatal arrest have already been fired.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, a retired police officer and father of a cop released the following statement:

I am outraged and sickened by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, who was left begging for his life while being held to the ground by police kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis. As a retired police officer and as the father of a police officer, I am appalled by the actions and believe justice must be served. Our police officers take an oath to uphold the law, and these gross violations break the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the public – bonds that are essential to all communities. Here in the City of Poughkeepsie, our police officers are committed to strengthening community relationships and endeavor in those efforts every day. Throughout the country, we are witnessing protests, and I stand with those who tirelessly work for racial equality. In Poughkeepsie, we have shown time and time again we can all work together for the greater good. These are trying times, but I have so much faith in our community. We will work for and insist on justice, and everyone’s voice will be heard and respected.

Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa released this "urgent message" on Sunday:

Last night, a tear rolled down my face and I couldn’t tell if it was from sorrow or anger. I watched as cities throughout our great nation were burned and destroyed because the actions of a police officer, who violated his oath to protect and serve, needlessly caused the death of a citizen. It is true, like many other professions, law enforcement is generational. It is also true we in law enforcement have had issues in dealing with African Americans, people of color and the underprivileged, and continued change is needed. However, we are moving forward. We have trained our officers to treat all people fairly and just. Last night, as society was angry at law enforcement, it was law enforcement that was in these cities working to protect and serve.

Like many others, I have similar stories of being treated unfairly. I remember in the mid-1980s when I was a US Marine and was home on leave after being overseas for a year. I went to visit my grandmother in the Bronx. I recall going to the local store with my cousin. It was during the crack epidemic and my cousin was addicted and supported his addiction by committing crimes. As we walked to the store we were both stopped and searched by law enforcement. I was angry about this encounter, but I also knew my cousin had issues. As a Marine I was very upset. Because I was with my cousin, the officers assumed I was also committing crimes. I was painted with the same brush. How unfair that felt. All I was doing was walking to the store. People of color and the underprivileged have been painted with the same brush by society as a whole. I decided back then if I wanted change, I would become a police officer. I wanted a seat at the table to share my American experience and my understanding of the different cultures that make up our country. The only way to effect that change for me was to represent my culture in law enforcement. Change is difficult but engagement is paramount.

Law enforcement is an integral part of society. When there is a homicide, rape, burglary, robbery or domestic violence, it is a police officer who responds and investigates. If a child is lost while hiking or your car breaks down in a snowstorm, it is a police officer who responds. When you sleep at night there is a police officer on patrol. I have seen the video of what occurred in Minneapolis. Not one member in law enforcement condones the actions that led to this tragic crime.

Law enforcement is the only profession where if a police officer commits a murder or crime in another state, all police officers are considered responsible. How can that be? When does that pervasive attitude end? How do the actions of an officer in another part of the country become the problem of a local police officer? And how is it the fault of a person of color when another person of color commits a crime? This all sounds very familiar to me, as a person of color who grew up with family in underprivileged communities. The entire law enforcement community is painted with the same brush. We do not all know each other, we are not related yet we are all responsible.

In this office, we are doing all we can to change that by diversifying the rank and file to be more representative of the citizens we serve. We regularly train on topics like procedural justice and implicit bias.

Historically, recruiting from communities of color has been very difficult. I ask you now, if you want to see that needed change, take the test and have a seat at the table.

I send my deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd and all the others who have suffered similar encounters.

All I was doing was walking to the store.

Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley, Jr. said:

The tragic Police Custody Death of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 in Minneapolis is not a reflection on all Law Enforcement Officers.

I, along with the Law Enforcement community, here in Putnam County at the Sheriff’s Department and beyond, acknowledge that the conduct of the officers involved is not acceptable, nor will it be tolerated. Throughout the Country, Law Enforcement professionals are taught proper investigative and arrest techniques and it is clear that this training was not utilized on that day by those involved.

The four Minneapolis officers involved in the death of George Floyd goes against our principles and brings discredit to an honorable profession which holds integrity to the highest standard. I can assure you that the vast majority of the Law Enforcement Officers in the US are good police and do not behave in the manner that was displayed on that horrible day.

As police officers we strive to be members of the community we serve and build relationships with everyone with whom we come into contact. Sacrifices are made by the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to be your shield. Our community-based relationships are vital for everyone as it makes all of us better and it enables law enforcement to serve the public we are sworn to serve and provide a safer environment for everyone.

Orange County District Attorney, the president of the District Attorneys Association of the State of New York, and Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, the association president-elect said:

The death of George Floyd has understandably been devastating to not only his family, but his community in Minneapolis and our entire country.

We place our faith in our laws and trust the police to discharge enforcement equally and appreciate their commitment, hard work and dedication to our citizenry. The video capturing the last moments of Mr. Floyd's life is a painful reminder that we have so much more work to do to ensure equal protection and treatment under the law. This nightmare should have never happened. The tragic events that transpired are not a reflection on all the hard working men and women in uniform who serve and protect us every day. Now, the justice system is tasked with investigating the individuals who are responsible for this. We trust that the investigation will be thorough and that justice will be served.

The anguish that we are all feeling as a result of Mr. Floyd's death is a reality that we must all deal with. We are a nation that is proud of our diverse communities and going forward we must all be dedicated to ameliorating racial tensions. Now more than ever while living in the time of our country's worst modern health pandemic and devastating economic uncertainty, we need to come together, embrace and understand our differences.

We wish our sincerest condolences and a hope for some peace to Mr. Floyd's family, friends and community. The voices of those who are peacefully protesting are a harsh reminder that we have so much more to do to live up to our ideals of justice for all.

A former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder on Friday. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Chauvin was seen on video with his knee on the neck of Floyd. Police responded to a convenience store on after someone called 911 claiming a person believed to be Floyd used a counterfeit bill and appeared drunk.

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