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Chesterfield chief asks community to help pick new police officers

Posted at 3:40 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 17:31:32-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield Police announced a change to the way it chooses new police officers.

Chesterfield Police Chief Col. Jeff Katz said he is looking for community volunteers to step forward and help the department interview potential police recruits.

This new initiative comes as police departments across the nation assess and re-assess the way officers interact with the community in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minnesota.

"We've done a lot of soul searching. We've done a lot of listening. And we've come up with things that we can do as a community to come together to reinforce my fervent belief that the police and the community are indeed one," Katz said in a video posted on social media.
"Here in Chesterfield, we are committed to making sure that everyone in our community sees our law enforcement personnel as partners, as protectors, and as people who are there to preserve their civil rights and make them feel safe and valued as members of our community."

Anyone interested in volunteering for the police interview panel must agree to a background investigation, an interview, a polygraph examination, a panel interview of their own -- similar to what a police recruit goes through.

"We have an opportunity to do something positive and productive, and we have a chance to do that together," Katz said. "We have a way to blaze a trail here."

Katz said one change he does not support is a citizen review board that would judge an officer's actions after a shooting or other use of force.

"Most people's idea of what police use of force is and should be is informed based on television and movies," he said. "That's not accurate and there's nothing about that that is just or right in people that are informed by entertainment making judgmental decisions on officers actions when there are real-live consequences and real-live threats."

Katz said it was ultimately his call whether a candidate is hired, but looked forward to the community's input in the process.

"I value our community's voice, and I'm asking for their voice," Katz said.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can find more information here.