RUPD chief addresses death of George Floyd

Rice University Police Department Chief Clemente Rodriguez shared the following message with the campus in a June 5 email:

Clemente Rodriguez

Clemente Rodriguez

Amid the worst pandemic this county has faced in more than a century, it’s with great sadness that we find ourselves fighting the familiar enemies of injustice and racism. Across the nation, people in every community are reeling in pain from the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of four men who do not represent what it means to be a police officer. The actions of these four men are incomprehensible, and they must be held accountable. As our country engages in a crucial national dialogue about law enforcement, I want you to know that RUPD condemns the behavior of those officers in Minnesota.

We work very hard to maintain our position of trust in the Rice community, and that means that we must constantly reflect on what we do so that we can learn and continually improve how we operate as a police department. As an example, seven years ago, some of our officers used a baton on a suspected bike thief; since then, we have adopted a variety of measures to prevent anything like that from happening again. We are now an accredited police department through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a rigorous national accreditation program certifying a commitment to excellence in law enforcement. We’ve also mandated enhanced training, equipped all officers with body-worn cameras and expanded the tools and techniques we can draw from to de-escalate interactions prior to the use of force. I understand we still need to make progress, and as I told the Student Association and college presidents in a meeting earlier this week, I plan to continue the dialogue and work with the campus community on how to promote understanding of policing policies at Rice, and more generally our philosophy on how we engage with and build trust in our community.

I am proud of the work we have done as a community-based police department, and of all the men and women at RUPD. They strive to serve the community guided by our values and principles of responsibility, integrity, community and excellence. I want to reassure every student, staff, faculty and member of the Rice community that all of RUPD cares deeply about the well-being of our community. We remain committed to our mission to provide a safe and secure campus, and to maintain the dignity of those we serve.

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