ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County Sheriff John Mina said United States law enforcement as a whole is not perfect, but they’ve made incremental improvements and are ready to listen to their communities.
Mina was reflecting on the story of a local mother who called the Orange County Sheriff's Office asking for deputies to come speak with her nervous 11 year-old daughter about the protests happening since George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
“She was afraid for her daughter because her daughter was feeling tension and scared of the police,” Mina said. “Then our dispatcher did such a great job of listening to her...and then actually telling her that we would send deputies there. And I think that’s amazing with everything that’s going on in our community today...”
When asked to give advice to other parents who want to talk with their kids about community and police relations, Mina said they should “be honest” like he was with his sons as they were growing up.
"Let the know that, unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world," Mina said. "And there are people out there that do not have the best intentions. But as far as law enforcement, the vast majority are good people. They risk their lives for our community. And they're there to help us. But just like any other profession, unfortunately sometimes we have people that do wrong.
"I think it's important for us as a society to continue to spread that message to our kids that law enforcement is good, they're there for us, and they're there to help keep us safe."
Mina called George Floyd’s death “disturbing, horrifying and extremely tragic.” He thinks it was excessive use of force, a criminal act.
“It’s important for us to recognize that,” Mina said. “But it’s also important, I think, for the community to recognize that the law enforcement profession has made incremental changes over the past three decades, and we are improving.”
He thinks that point sometimes gets lost with another important one:
“We are always willing to listen to our community.”
Recently Mina has been in the news for telling protesters he supports their right to demonstrate and for taking a knee with them. He agrees that by listening, he's been able to strike a balance between representing law enforcement and understanding protesters.
“We definitely gotta listen,” he said. “Law enforcement shouldn’t be the ones out front saying this is how it is. We should say, you know what, we’re not perfect. Let us listen to what you have to say. Let’s work together for change, to make things better. Especially in this community. We have always had such an open dialogue with our community. We’re willing to talk and listen and, yes, get down on one knee and march.”