Editor’s note: Chief Rocky Wardlow wrote this op-ed on June 2. Since then, Derek Chauvin’s charges have been upgraded to second degree murder and manslaughter and the other three officers involved have been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter.
In light of recent events occurring so close to our City, I am compelled to write this letter as your Chief of Police to give you an understanding of my feelings and the position of this Police Department.
The number of phone calls, text messages, emails, and walk-ins offering help and support from this community the past 72 hours has been overwhelming. For that, and the support each of you show on a daily basis, you have my deepest gratitude.
In my 40+ years of law enforcement I was never so angered and sickened than when like you, I watched the slow agonizing death of a human being from such a dark evil heart purporting himself to be a police officer, wearing a badge that he totally disgraced, and a uniform that symbolizes pride, respect, and trust.
As most of you know, I retired from a prior career before coming to Horseshoe Bay. In that career I investigated several cases involving police officers. Those cases included the use of force, corruption, misconduct, abuse of office, and other such offenses. However, in my 40+ years of service I have never witnessed or worked a case where a person was suffocated to the point of unconsciousness by a police officer. I am appalled that at least one if not all three of the other officers involved has not already been charged. If sufficient evidence existed for the arrest of the murderer, the exact same evidence exists for the arrest of those who did nothing to stop it. They heard the pleas of a dying man and took absolutely no action to stop the cruel and brutal treatment of another human being.
I condemn what happened to George Floyd in the strongest of terms. However, I still believe in wheels of justice although they sometimes turn slow and I am confident the punishment for his death will be just in both this world and the next.
Peaceful protests and demonstrations are a constitutional right of all Americans. It is the same constitution I swore to uphold and protect. However, the violence, rioting, looting, and destruction we have seen in so many cities across our country are not protected acts under the constitution and in fact are all prohibited by law. I likewise condemn those actions and those persons who plan, prepare, and carry them out.
Many of you have contacted me offering to help in anyway. Others have asked me “what is your plan of action should violent protesters show here” and yet others have asked if we have the resources needed. I would like to answer those questions so that everyone can hear.
I am in constant contact daily by phone, text, and email with other area law enforcement agency heads. In our immediate area, we have written or verbal working agreements in place with Burnet, Lampasas, llano, Gillespie, and Blanco Counties as well as the cities of Burnet, Bertram, Marble Falls, Johnson City, Sunrise Beach, Fredericksburg and Llano. Through these agreements we support one another with resources, manpower, and assets that are available.
In addition, we work with State Agencies such as DPS, P&W, TDCJ, Texas AG Office and LCRA who will provide resources, manpower, and assets if requested.
In police work, information or intelligence is the crown jewel. I receive multiple daily reports, briefings, notices, and fliers from the FBI, USMS, the Regional Crime Information Center that includes Texas and 15 other states, the Texas Fusion Center, and finally the Austin Regional Information Center which serves as an intelligence information clearinghouse for all agencies in our immediate area.
I want to assure those who may be concerned that although we are small agency, the resources, manpower, and assets that we pray are never needed, are readily available and just a phone call away.
To those who have asked, “what is your plan of action”, I will defer to a quote from Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War:
“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt”
Please rest assured, the Horseshoe Bay Police Department has the availability of resources, manpower, and assets to face any challenge and is fully staffed with well trained, well disciplined, seasoned police officers who all possess the highest possible levels of compassion, caring, integrity, and love of this community and those who live here.