Walnut Creek Police Chief Issues Message to Community

By Thomas Chaplin, Chief of Police

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The following message was posted by Walnut Creek Police Chief Thomas Chaplin.

Dear Walnut Creek Community,

I have been personally struggling with how to share my thoughts with our residents since George Floyd was killed on May 25. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

It’s important to say his name – George Floyd’s life mattered. And now, this terrible event also matters, and none of us should be silent about it. His death at the hands of someone he was supposed to be able to trust is something I can’t get out of my head. The despicable actions and images out of Minneapolis fill me with sorrow and disgust. And not just the action of the officer who took Mr. Floyd’s life, but the inaction of the other officers who failed to perform one of the critical elements of our profession—as a first responder. We are supposed to run into danger to save others, not stand idly by as it happens. I am heartbroken for the loss of Mr. Floyd’s life, the utter contempt for Mr. Floyd’s dignity, and for yet another tarnish to law enforcement’s badge.

Earlier this year, I launched a Walnut Creek Police Community Advisory Board, comprised of a cross section of 16 community members that I expect to provide me perspective outside of my law enforcement background, and help me see blind spots in how our Department operates. We met virtually for two hours last Thursday night, and although not on our agenda, I shared my raw thoughts on this atrocious incident with the Board members, and they shared their emotional ones with me as well. It was a reminder how important it is to have these
discussions with your family, your friends, and in our community. I listened to and learned from the perspectives of each person, and was reminded how valuable it is to hear their voices.

I have been steeped in law enforcement, law enforcement culture, and have been a staunch supporter of all that is honorable in this profession for over three decades. I have faith in our Walnut Creek Police Department, in our people, and in our mission. I know how complex and difficult this job can be. I know how dangerous it can be. I also know what this job is not. It is not meant to be the exercise of power over another. It does not give us license to abuse anyone, especially people of color. People should not be in fear of us.

The killing of Mr. Floyd is a violation of all that is good in our profession. What we have seen is beyond debate. The blatant abuse of power is unacceptable to all of us, whether we wear a badge or not. We simply cannot stand for the mistreatment and evil we have all seen.

I support the right of all who want to peacefully protest this killing. Your Walnut Creek Police Department will ensure you have that right. We are on the same side. This travesty cannot be tolerated by any of us. This is not acceptable. It never will be acceptable.

Very respectfully,

Thomas Chaplin
Chief of Police

20 COMMENTS

  1. Why would you say especially people of color?
    Why not especially women or especially children or especially the elderly???
    It doesn’t give a police officer the right to abuse ANYONE!!!!
    Not especially people of color, ANYONE, as we are all equal.

    • Sooty, police officers across America are not murdering unarmed children and unarmed old folks at alarming and statistically higher rates than other people. Although your comment appears to bolster equality and fairness, your sentiment is actually inaccurate and part of the problem. Black people, especially black men, are by far the most target by police in America, most murdered, most Imprisoned than any other race. This is a fact. Your children and elderly don’t fear the police like black people do.

      • As a person of color myself, you said the group that most fears police most are Blacks, and in particular black men. What is the Black community doing to proactively change this?

        It’s one thing to hear about the problem, but it’s quite another to see actual video footages (several footages). Look at the Emerville and Walnut Creek looting. Why is it the overwhelming majority (from my observation 95%+) of looters are of one particular ethnicity? Is looting acceptable? With data from the latest FBI statistics, why is it that crimes perpetrated on its own ethnic group is highest among black community? Is self hate acceptable? You know the Bible says “Thou shall not steal”,”Thou shall not murder.” These basic laws are written on everyone’s heart. No one wants to have their personal belonging stolen nor to be killed, obviously people know its not right to do the same.

        I am truly humbly asking your honest assessment of the current state. This is no joking matter.

      • Pastor, in one important point you are wrong. Yes, black men are the most targeted by police. But if you divide the number by the number of offenders, it looks all different. Black offenders are actually less likely to be targeted as for example white offenders.

      • Pastor Maynard,

        There is no need to fear the police if you have not done anything wrong.

        It is one thing to “hear” about the looting that went on and who perpetrated it. It’s quite another to actually see footage upon video footage of the actual looters. Look at the footage in Emeryville where looters stormed into Best Buy. Look at all the video footage of Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, in the streets and Macys. I would dare say over 95% are of one specific ethnicity perpetrating these crimes. They are gleefully taking what is not theirs and loading it up in their cars. Many stealing large screen TVs and not knowing how to load it on their small cars to bring it home. This ethnicity OUGHT to be afraid of the police because of the CRIMES they are committing are committed against the larger community.

        Why is it that this specific group have no moral compass?

  2. It is hard to peacefully protest when the cops are inciting violence by breaking businesses windows and damaging property. Brought and paid for by – George Soros

  3. Tom,

    Your comments are heartfelt, totally appropriate and address this sad event in a meaningful way.

    Thank you for stepping up to the plate of police leadership and letting your voice be heard when too often there has been a silence in the past.

    It is reassuring to know Walnut Creek has a courageous and compassionate police chief.

  4. Would like to join the committee to share ideas. Our citiy and residents need more information to make decisions.
    I need information on how to become part of the decision making team. I’m a teacher.

  5. Thank you Chief Chaplin for this thoughtful message to our community. I saw some very ugly posts last night from people who want to target Walnut Creek with riots, so that’s that’s another stress on your department and hearts. I greatly appreciate and respect our police department, and have lived here since 1963, my first day of kindergarten. God bless you all!!
    P.S. Love that reference to Martin Luther King. Apparently during the big March he carried his bible tucked under his arm.

  6. It’s hard to understand what’s happening in society especially after reading this article and knowing and understanding that in Walnut Creek, California you have Black Site facilities that target Russian American and you have activities that target African American kids, and people of color specifically my family!!!! You have projects running on federal lever that harms people, physically, emotionally, mentally. People can go demonstrate but SOLUTIONS and proper cultural toleration and non hate environment should be present. Does anyone wants to explain themselves why you violate human rights and support turtoure. My family and others I know have been subject of that in city of Walnut Creek, California. Please explain your hate actions and violations of human rights and abuse near Carmel Dr. Thank you.

    • Mary,

      Just what exactly are you babbling about? –> “Black Site facilities that target Russian American and you have activities that target African American kids, and people of color specifically my family!!!!”

  7. Teach your kids to be respectful to the laws and the police that enforce them to complie to our officers when pulled over so they don’t feel threatened start there!!!

  8. Thank you for your strong, unequivocal statement. As we and our children protest over the next days and weeks, please keep us safe. This is a moment in history that we should all want to be on the right side of, and no one should be worried about retaliation and personal safety as we come out to support our fellow citizens’ rights to be protected and valued by those whom we entrust with this important task. Thank you for your courage to speak out. It helps to heal and bring hope that others will join you in changing a broken system and culture.

  9. Thank you Chief Chaplin for your willingness to reflect deeply into your heart as our country struggles to respond to the social and political unrest that envelops us as a nation. It is incumbent upon all people, not just people of color, to right this horrible wrong in our society. Thank you for your leadership as we aspire to become better than what we are.

  10. Walnut creek police, and planning harass minority business and property owners as a religious duty.
    Chief is not being honest. Just check statistics for the city.

  11. Thank you for speaking out clearly, thoughtfully and honestly. We are fortunate to have a chief like you.

  12. Chief Chaplin shares what I believe most of us think, and I am encouraged to have him leading this department that has seen better and worse days. After today, where the force handled absolute deadbeats without violence, while supporting a peaceful rally grieving the Floyd disaster, I feel more secure and proud of my town. That being said, there is constant, massive work to be done to improve the behavior of those who wear those badges around the world.

  13. Just seen neighbors load up in 2-3 cars deep, yelling to hurry up!!!! So they can head over to do some late night “SHOPPING” in Walnut Creek… Must have some good deals going on tonight. Didnt know Jewelry stores were open this late?

  14. The message from the Police Chief does not square with the reality of June 1, 2020 protesters “met with military style vehicles, police dogs, tear gas and rubber bullets” (Microsoft News Network).

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