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Annapolis police chief condemns police brutality in statement following protests

Annapolis Police Chief Ed Jackson recalled his childhood in Baltimore public housing Wednesday in a statement denouncing police brutality amid sustained national outrage over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer who’s since been charged with murder.

Jackson reiterated his support for his officers, but promised the citizens of Annapolis that the hallmark of the department under his leadership would be “ethical, humane and dignified policing.”

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“No form of police brutality of any kind will be tolerated during my tenure as Chief,” he said in the statement.

His comments follows days of protests in Annapolis, across Maryland and the nation as citizens have remained in the streets to show that they will not tolerate police brutality against black people. The protests responded to the death of Floyd, a black man, who died after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

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Chauvin was arrested and charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder. Activists have been calling for swift justice.

And some Anne Arundel County voters thought of Floyd and other African Americans who have died at the hands of police as they cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election.

As protesters estimated to number around 1,000 gathered in Annapolis Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Gavin Buckley announced that Jackson would be unveiling to the public Thursday plans for a Citizen Review Board —it’s a policy Jackson has long touted, and one that the city of Annapolis has previously fizzled out in the city council.

It’s unclear at this time exactly what issues the review board will preside over, as city officials could not immediately provide answers to questions Wednesday and Jackson did not respond to a message requesting comment.

However, Jackson has spoken publicly about being a proponent of citizen review boards in Annapolis even before he was appointed to his post as the city’s top cop. Jackson’s response in support of a civilian review board was met with applause at one community meeting last July.

However, publicly available police department data shows that there have been 22 complaints filed against officers or employees of the Annapolis Police Department through the first five months of the year. Eight of the complaints from January through May 29 came from members of the public, while 14 came from within the department.

Five of the complaints concerned officer or employee conduct, examples of which include "discourtesy, harassment, and conduct unbecoming, according to the city. Meanwhile, 17 of the complaints pertained to policy issues, like being late for work, losing equipment or failing to appear in court.

Three complaints from the public remain under review, four were found to be sustained and another was not sustained, the data show. Eight complaints from within the department remain open, five were sustained and one was unfounded. The website does not define each disposition, however, it notes “discipline is imposed as a result of a sustained complaint.”

Jackson defended the actions and intentions of “the vast majority” of law enforcement who he said have the best interest of the community in mind.

But he also said he was all too familiar with the pain and frustration of Floyd’s family, recalling his childhood in Baltimore. Jackson grew up with his five siblings in a Baltimore public housing complex called Flag House in the early ’60s, a time he has in the past reflected on fondly. He also described raising two sons in the same city years later.

“As a young man growing up in the Baltimore housing projects, our relationship with the police was not always the best,” Jackson said. "Moreover, raising my two sons into manhood in Baltimore City was a challenge to say the least, and made me acutely and personally aware of the issues expressed regarding black lives at yesterday’s demonstration.

“I fully understand that people everywhere want police reform and a better relationship with their government.”

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This article will be updated.

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