Hal Dean (Photo: Hal Dean)
From where I stand: Like many Fort Collins residents, and many people across the state and the country, I have read about and seen video accounts of what happened during a “Back the Blue” rally and counter protest outside the Fort Collins Police Services Building on Aug. 8.
At a minimum, I have to say I was heartbroken. I was disgusted by what I saw and heard.
This was not what I stood for as a police officer in Fort Collins for 35 years, and was not what the majority of those I worked with stood for. My goal was to enforce the laws of our community and state.
But equally, if not more importantly, it was to protect and defend those who could not protect themselves; the vulnerable. It was to stand up for those who needed their voice to be heard. It was not only to see that justice was carried out, but that injustices were prevented, or corrected when need be.
It is difficult for me to understand why those who profess to “Back the Blue” do not support Black Lives Matter. The two should be synonymous.
I certainly support law enforcement. It was my chosen profession, and I tried to do my very best every single day of my career. I was not perfect. I made plenty of mistakes. But I always tried to correct the ones I could and tried to learn from mistakes so I didn’t make them again.
I do not support those law enforcement officers who feel they are the ultimate authority, or those who try to suppress those rights that we should be defending. I do not support rioting, but I do support peaceful demonstration. It is how this country has progressed as a nation.
Fort Collins Police Services is not perfect; I don’t know of any law enforcement organization that is perfect. But I can say this with honesty and a clear conscience: During my career, Fort Collins Police Services continually strived to improve.
It worked hard on forging better relations with the community. It worked to be more transparent. It strived to have open communication and dialogue regarding issues of concern to the community. This is not anything new; it began several chiefs of police ago.
And again, while Fort Collins Police Services is not perfect, it has always tried to be innovative and improve and continue to grow as a professional law enforcement agency. We only got better when we were questioned from within, and from the community.
Is there more to be done? Of course there is; we must never stop improving.
So, I ask the community this: What are you really supporting?
If you truly do “Back the Blue,” then you should be supporting improvement, change, open communication, and the ability to support those whose voices that have been silenced by fear and by prejudice.
Hal Dean lives in Fort Collins.
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