PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- Hundreds of people came out to the Pueblo Riverwalk Monday night to peacefully protest police brutality and to honor the memory of George Floyd -- the man who was killed in Minneapolis while in police custody.
One of the people walking with the protesters Monday was none other than Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport.
On Thursday, KRDO NewsChannel 13 spoke with Chief Davenport to discuss Monday night's protest, the death of George Floyd and the current state of the community-police relationship in Pueblo.
Wednesday, Chief Davenport sat down with KRDO reporter Dan Beedies for a Q&A:
Chief Davenport, what were the protesters' reactions to seeing yourself walking with them?
I think a majority of the protesters were appreciative. They were communicating in a positive way. There were those who were emotionally involved, and we heard some of the negative things. I think one thing we can all agree on is Mr. Floyd's death is horrible. It's tragic. It's created an image that is just awful. I'm doing the best I can as the chief of police in Pueblo to have a positive image.
When Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski asked if he would march with protesters, Niski said he wasn't sure what the purpose of walking with them would be. Why did you walk with protesters?
If there was any chance to relate to them and prevent any acts of violence, I wanted to do that. Having said that, I would never second guess the judgment of another Chief. They know their community, they know the intel that they have in their own backyard. I made the decision I made consistent with what I know in Pueblo.
We’re you surprised things didn’t turn to violence in Pueblo? Were there concerns?
I would be irresponsible if I weren't concerned about that. I wasn't necessarily surprised [that the protest remained peaceful]. I was definitely relieved. Thirty-one years of experience in law enforcement has taught me to hope for the best and anticipate anything.
What did you take away from your participation in Monday’s march?
One thing I did take away as an immense positive was that there is a real balanced, understanding and supportive nature in most people. They're mortified; they are upset about what is going on and wanted to express that. They did so in a constitutionally valid and legal way.
What are your thoughts when you see the video of George Floyd being pinned down by Minneapolis Police?
I was mortified. That is not consistent with the training officers get. It's not consistent with our oath of office. It's just not consistent with any of that. Nobody can justify that.
Do you think PPD and Pueblo’s community will be in a stronger position moving forward or have we taken a step back?
I think the entire country has taken a step back because of the actions of those four officers. You would be irresponsible to deny that. At the same time there may be an opportunity here for more open discussion. Maybe some of our civic leaders are even more interested with what is happening at the police department. I've opened the doors, I've invited many people to come see how we train. To see what reaction times look like. To see what our commitment to safety and de-escalation looks like. We want positive relationships with all people even those that may find themselves in our custody. We have a responsibility to safeguard their health. Unfortunately, that didn't happen in Minneapolis. We are not perfect, but we have good people who are trying very very hard.