Following through on his commitment to get personally involved in the community, Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. took time to visit with League members at the Thursday, February 15, Hot Topic at the Watkins Museum. It had been a long ride from his Louisville, Kentucky childhood dream of being a policeman to his arrival in Lawrence, less than 24 hours after a triple murder on Massachusetts Street. This was not the welcome anyone wanted for Lawrence’s new police chief.
Chief Burns spoke about his philosophy on policing, both controlling crime and protecting constitutional rights. He believes in recruiting a diverse police force and treating people with dignity and respect, both inside and outside the police department. “I believe in community policing, each and every day. Take that extra five minutes with individuals and they’ll remember that. It’s the simple things that work.”
The body camera project should be in place by the end of the year, Burns said. He had the opportunity to use body cameras for three years in Louisville and became a firm believer. The camera provides increased accountability and allows immediate review of the evidence, he added. A firearms training system (FATS) was recently purchased by the department. “In real life, you don’t get to practice how to handle crisis situations, so this virtual ‘video game’ is a way to help officers and also educate the public,” he said.
“A new facility is needed, he said. “We are out of space in the two facilities we have.” The new location is not that relevant, he said, as the officers are routinely working in all areas of the community rather than the center facility.
During the Q & A, topics covered were police procedures when stopping people; growing up in the 30s and 40s with fear and distrust of police officers; a new class of 16-20 recruits; public safety concerns; and open carry.
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League to which this content belongs:Lawrence-Douglas County