In her weekly video address to the community, Eureka Mayor Susan Seaman calls the text messages published by the Sacramento Bee earlier this week “wholly unbecoming of any professional or decent human being,” and promises decisive action.
Good Afternoon. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you about a matter of great importance and one that is weighing heavily on me as I know it is on many of you.
As you likely have heard, earlier this week, the Sacramento Bee published a story that revealed the alleged content of text message exchanges between several Eureka Police Department officers. The communications referenced were wholly unbecoming of any professional, or any decent human being, for that matter.
Public trust is hard to earn, and easy to lose. People are angry, and they should be. I’m angry.
There is no excuse for the demeaning, disrespectful content reported to have been included in those messages. As Mayor, I feel it is critically important that I state clearly and unequivocally that the city does not condone this kind of behavior.
EPD has worked hard the last few years to introduce training on topics like implicit bias, de-escalation techniques, and community policing. They have also worked to develop new and better relationships across the community. That is certainly movement in the right direction, though there is clearly still much work to be done.
As public servants, we owe it to our citizens to deliver real, measurable progress.
I am thankful that Chief Watson has recognized and owned the severity of this issue and that he has taken swift and meaningful action to begin a formal investigation. The city has hired an unbiased third party from outside the area to conduct this effort but to protect the integrity of the investigative process, we will not be releasing the name of the investigator until the final report is complete.
Our community wants answers quickly. I expect that, and you deserve that. Still, we also need the investigation to be thorough, not only to determine the most appropriate action involving each of the officers named, but just as importantly, we must take the time to fully understand the depth of the cultural problems that could allow something like this to occur.
When people talk about not trusting the police, they are often referring to a culture that they believe excuses behavior like that reported by the Sacramento Bee. While everyone is entitled to due process, let me be clear: we will not excuse bad behavior in our city.
Eureka citizens deserve truth, respect, and dignity. That is foundational and non-negotiable.
I remain on high alert, but I do still want to take a moment to thank those on our police force who serve honorably. It is not uncommon to receive letters of recognition from citizens for officers who do meet, and even exceed, the expectations of the public. This is not limited to their roles in enforcing laws, but also for their patience and compassion in the face of difficult circumstances.
These officers who hold themselves to and practice this high ideal also have to face a disappointed and distrustful community. With this in mind, I want to acknowledge how important these public servants are to our community. It is essential that we recognize, cultivate, and thank the officers who do reflect the values that EPD aspires to, while not shying away from addressing the serious issues with those who do not.
I also want to warn those who may believe that these kinds of communications are not a big deal that the world has evolved. They are not only a big deal, but they are actionable.
I understand that Chief Watson will provide more updates as circumstances evolve and legal limitations allow. I join you in waiting anxiously for that information. Thank you for your time.