On Memorial Day, communities across this country watched in horror as a former officer in Minneapolis held George Floyd to the ground, his knee restraining Floyd by his neck, actions which directly led to Mr. Floyd’s death.
Police agencies across the country, including the Mountain View Police Department, came out to condemn, in no uncertain terms, the inexcusable actions of the officer. The department reiterated a vow to continue the strong partnership with the community, as it has for decades. The actions of the former Minneapolis police officers, at their very core, went against everything the Mountain View Police Department stands for, from human rights to rendering immediate medical aid for those calling out for help.
With more than 36,000 calls for service in 2019 alone, the Mountain View Police Department is a valuable organization in our community, serving vulnerable populations, our children, and more with a Mountain View-first mentality. The department is known as a dedicated leader in the community policing model. In the past three months alone, the department has single-handedly helped distribute nearly 10,000 face coverings to those who need them to help us flatten the curve of COVID-19. Department employees have distributed more than 2,000 bags of food to those in need. And they have been working in close collaboration, as they have for years, with community-based organizations to help find housing resources for those who need to stay healthy and safe while we battle this pandemic.
For more than 20 years, officers have served the children of Mountain View as mentors and trusted adults with the Dreams & Futures program, which helps students learn and deal with peer pressure, family issues, drugs, and more. These officers are beloved by their students, and they are repeatedly requested for reading days, assemblies, and more.
And that’s not all – our community comes out in force every year to help the Mountain View Police Department build meal baskets for families in need for Cops + Gobblers, thanks to the incredible donations from our community members. Last year, in less than 45 minutes, Mountain View residents, in tandem with officers, assembled more 400 baskets that were in turn distributed by both officers and families to those who needed some help making their Thanksgiving Day special.
Every year in December, Mountain View officers help bring holiday gifts to thousands of Mountain View students with the Cops That Care program – an event that takes months to coordinate but is worth every smile of the more than 1,000 children that walk through the door to receive a present of their choosing in time for the holidays.
These are just some of the efforts you may know about, and are part of the fabric of who we are and the values we hold. They are ingrained in the community policing model, which the Mountain View Police Department wholeheartedly embraces and follows. This doesn’t include the tens of thousands of calls for service Mountain View officers were dispatched to last year – calls for crime, calls for help, calls for someone to be there to support them when no one else was.
Of those 36,000 calls last year, less than a fraction of 1 percent – just 26 calls total – required the use of force, resulting in, at most, minor injuries. That’s because Mountain View officers are trained holistically to constantly work to de-escalate, to help those in need at their pace and to ensure that every possible avenue is taken before force is even brought to the table as an option. This isn’t just a policy we have – it is ingrained in multiple policies, it is repeatedly covered in training every year and it is a constant topic of discussion within the department.
Your Mountain View police officers care deeply for this community. They work to build bridges every day, not because it’s their job, but because they, like you, are men and women searching for a better way to serve the greater good. They will continue to meet you at the table, be there when you are having your worst day and be there for every call in between. Because that is what it means to be a police officer in Mountain View.
Going forward, there will be many moments and conversations with many community members in many neighborhoods. Mountain View police will continue to be there to listen, to learn and to help create intentional, meaningful movements forward.
Margaret Abe-Koga is mayor of Mountain View and Max Bosel is police chief.