‘I think it shows a willingness to listen:’ NN Police Chief Steve Drew talks why he joined protesters

Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va (WAVY) — Unrest reigns across America as people protest the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew hopes protests in his community will remain peaceful demonstrations.

Chief Drew said he understands the pain and believes bridging the gap is what will set them a part. That means changing policies, new training exercises and sometimes that means joining the protest.

Newport News police Chief Steve Drew has stepped in to talk with protesters now on several ocassions. Last week at a rally on the peninsula he stepped in to talk, and again Tuesday outside of headquaters

10 On Your Side’s Tamara Scott asked him, why?

“Anything that de-escalates and calms things down, and let me tell you I have no problem pulling officers back. I have no problem with that I think you have to read the situation and circumstances interact and go from there,” he said.

Right now he knows it’s what they need to see.

“I think they see that it’s not us versus them, it’s here is an issue that we need to have a debate on, and if you’re willing to step out from behind your office, behind your walls, if you’re willing to step out a line of police officers, and into a crowd especially just one person, then it sends a message that I’m putting myself in your hands. I think it shows a willingness to listen,” he said.

He says he hears the pain and frustrations and wants to make a change people can believe.

That’s why he often does live ‘Chat with the Chief’ on social media, to further bridge the gap and keep things transparent.

“I wish that I could tell you it will never happen here but I can’t, every profession has individuals that probably should not be in that profession.”

But he believes it his responsibility to weed those people out at the beginning of the hiring process.

“We’re gonna teach them how to use all of this stuff how to drive a car, policies, and procedures but for me, I want to know do they feel about people, communities and youth,” he explained.

He says he is also working on changing how officers hold each other accountable.

“If you see an officer doing something wrong you interject. If I get into an argument with a citizen and a recruit comes up and said ‘Hey Chief, let me talk to this person,’ I’m fine with that,” he said.

He is also implemented a new sergeant to officer ratio so they can look out for each other and work on weaknesses that may be overlooked. He’s just hoping to make a standard other departments can learn from in the future.

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