MOORHEAD — Clay County Sheriff Mark Empting put out a rare social media post on Thursday, May 28, telling residents his department will "continue to treat all community members with respect and dignity no matter what" in the wake of the Minneapolis events this week.
About 75 residents responded to his post with near unanimous support of his words and his department.
The first-term sheriff said he viewed the video of the death of George Floyd "with disgust."
"I cannot provide an explanation for it and I cannot justify actions like that in any law enforcement officer. The officer(s) involved will undoubtedly be in court and we must trust our criminal justice system will prevail," he wrote.
He said what the police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck did that caused him to lose consciousness was "not right."
The sheriff added, though, that the "senseless destruction" of the riots under way in Minneapolis and St. Paul should also not be happening.
He said it "doesn't fix anything."
"I am all for people wanting to march in protest and have protests that are peaceful, but what is happening right now is not OK, just as what happened to George Floyd was not OK. Two wrongs do not make a right and the community needs to come together in unity," Empting wrote.
"Not all law enforcement officers are perfect and there are some that do disgrace the badge and uniform," he added. "This makes the rest of the good officers in this profession look bad and it does make us angry as well. There are many men and women in uniform that do this job with pride, respect, dignity and honor."
He said his department has worked hard to ensure the "trust and respect" of county residents.
"We will continue that work as we know that we have strong support from our community," Empting said.
In a sampling of the comments from residents in response, Tiffany Adair wrote, "Thank you for not turning a blind eye to this issue and remaining silent. It's important that people see other law enforcement not condoning this behavior."
"Well said," said many residents.
"There are always bad actors in every profession," wrote Dan Lee.
In another response, Aaron Bjorge wrote "Cops have always received much lighter sentences than the average person, and again, why are the four cops not in jail right now?"