‘We are listening:’ Central Florida law enforcement officers heartbroken by George Floyd’s death

Black law enforcement officers have their own experience with discrimination

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – George Floyd’s death has impacted the country and the world. The video showing the Minneapolis officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing is heartbreaking to watch, especially for African American officers who are called to serve and protect.

News 6 spoke with a sergeant and an undersheriff from two Central Florida law enforcement agencies to hear their perspective of the outcry for justice across the nation.

They said as black fathers, they're hurting too.

“I wear this uniform or I wear a badge eight hours a day, but the other 16 hours, I am Fred Jones, the black man,” Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Fred Jones said.

On Wednesday, Jones was among a sea of protestors in Lake county, hearing out their stories, and knowing that he has stories of his own to share too.

[UPDATES: Protests over death of George Floyd continue across the US | Orange County town hall to focus on George Floyd, police and community relations]

“I was that 17-year-old who was stopped by the police. I was that suspect in a burglary when I was just out on a run,” Jones said.

He’s reacting after George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, but its also why he said he's been working to better bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“I think the hardest part for me was sometimes stepping in the black community, and saying 'Look I’m just doing my job, but I promise you I will do my job with compassion,” Jones said.

Orange County Undersheriff Mark Canty said what happened to Floyd wasn't justified.

“It bothers me to death,” Canty said.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Orange County leaders explain how they can mend law enforcement-community relationships | Black-owned restaurants you can support in Orlando]

He was raised in Pine Hills and is now second in command at the Orange County sheriffs office.

“I hurt to see an innocent person who did not deserve to die, I hurt to see him die, and it hurts a lot because he is African American and I can relate to that,” Canty said.

He said he wants residents to know that he and his deputies are working always to better strengthen community relations by hiring diverse deputies who care.

“We’re trying to do better. We’re trying to hold our people accountable and know that we are listening, we’ve heard the concerns of the community,” Canty said.

About the Author: