Lawrence police chief says actions of Minneapolis officers will not be tolerated in town

Disturbed by the actions of a white Minneapolis police officer that resulted in the death of an African American man, Lawrence Township Police Chief Brian Caloiaro said the officer’s actions would not be tolerated in Lawrence Township.

Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on resident George Floyd’s neck in the May 25 incident, which contributed to his death, as several police officers watched, according to video circulating from the incident. He had been subdued and was handcuffed, lying prone on the ground. Police had responded to a call for help after Floyd allegedly tried to pass off a fake $20 bill in a store.

Caloiaro strongly disagreed with the way the Minneapolis officers handled the incident – the police officer who kept his knee on the man’s neck, and the three police officers who stood by and watched.

“I can in no way justify the action of this officer. Frankly, I am saddened by the fact that his fellow officers stood by and allowed it to happen,” said Caloiaro, who has been a police officer for more than 26 years. “The officer’s actions were excessive to say the least, and violated every code of ethics ingrained in our profession.”

Lawrence Township police officers receive training in the use of force – how it may be used and under which circumstances – two times per year, Caloiaro said.

The officers learn about biased based policing, and also receive training in ethics, cultural diversity and how to deal with mental illness in the people they serve, he said.

Caloiaro pointed out that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal initiated the Excellence in Policing Initiative last year, which aims to strengthen the trust between police and citizens.

The three cornerstones in the initiative – professionalism, accountability and transparency – are embodied in the way Lawrence police officers approach their jobs, he said. They come to work every day with the core values of honor, integrity and knowledge, he added.

The police officers also embed themselves in the community through such activities as the Police Department’s annual Easter Egg hunt and the National Night Out community event that is held on the front lawn of the Lawrence Township Municipal Complex. The Lawrence Township Police Department also takes part in the annual Community Day event in October, and Trunk or Treat at Halloween “because we believe in bringing the Police Department and community together as a whole,” Caloiaro said.

“We are dedicated to working hand in hand with the diverse community that we serve. We believe in – and are committed to – developing partnerships with our community to improve the quality of life within Lawrence Township,” Caloiaro said.