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Penn State Police Respond To George Floyd’s ‘Appalling Death’

Penn State University Police and Public Safety released a statement Thursday afternoon condemning George Floyd’s death and offering support to the Penn State community.

The statement, signed by Assistant Vice President Charlie Noffsinger, Police Chief Joseph Milek, and Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Director Iris Richardson reaffirmed the department is working to improve its operations and better serve its community.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of George Floyd and all who are struggling with this intolerable event; we share your sadness and outrage,” they wrote. “We in the law enforcement profession can and must do everything in our power to do and be better.”

Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis. His death sparked protests, rallies, and riots throughout the nation, including one right in Happy Valley.

The trio added their officers’ code of ethics states it’s law enforcement’s duty to serve the community, safeguard lives and property, protect the innocent, weak, and peaceful, and respect “the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality, and justice.”

“Within University Police and Public Safety, we hold ourselves accountable to the ideals found in our code of ethics,” they continued. “Our daily interactions with others in the community have meaning. How we treat those around us, how we interact with individuals, how we carry out our duties and responsibilities matter.”

Noffsinger, Milek, and Richardson added their organization is constantly working to build trusting relationships with its community through the following:

  • Support for community policing activities and programming will continue to be a priority, and will be expanded to incorporate more of our staff into the effort; 
  • We will continue to invest in conflict resolution, de-escalation, and crisis intervention training to reinforce these skills in support of our staff; 
  • Our diversity, equity and inclusion director will work with our police chief on developing specific plans for building trust and legitimacy, one of the six pillars found in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report; and 
  • Last fall, we developed and administered a community survey to invite feedback from students and employees regarding campus climate, safety, University Police and our programs and services. The results of that survey, which will be released soon, will help inform our future community policing strategy and programming. 

“We are proud of the service University Police and Public Safety provides to our communities, and just as importantly, how we do it, but even we can do better, and we work on this daily. Being in service to others is a noble endeavor,” Noffsinger, Milek, and Richardson wrote. “The challenge of changing the culture of policing by placing more emphasis on being guardians, versus warriors, must be a challenge we are willing to embrace within our profession.”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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