Police departments protect cities in the wake of widespread civil unrest


On Sunday afternoon, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez and Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton addressed the community on the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Their message was simple and echoed by police departments across the nation: We are here for you in solidarity.

In the last week, mass protests have erupted as community members across the nation seek justice for Floyd. His death, recorded and shared on social media, has upended the last few days of sheltering-in-place as the country continues to deal with COVID-19.

Since Friday, police departments have had to increase staff, establish curfews and bear witness as community members took to the streets together  – with or without face masks — to share in their universal outrage.

“Like Vice Mayor Hampton, I am also a parent. I am the father of Latino boys … we’ve had discussions at home about this … we’ve all seen the disturbing video and the aftermath it has left behind in this country. I can tell you this is not consistent with our culture or how we prepare our young officers,” Perez said in the taped video with Hampton.

In Irvine, Police Chief Mike Hamel assured residents in a statement that their police department will always do what is right and just.

“What was depicted in that (Floyd) video is not who we are and that is not how we train; we routinely train to use only the minimal amount of force necessary in any given situation, and to de-escalate situations whenever possible,” Hamel wrote. “We will make every effort to protect the first amendment rights of those who wish to have their voices heard. We will support peaceful protests, but we won’t tolerate demonstrators who resort to violence or property destruction. Please have every confidence that our officers are diligently patrolling our community and your neighborhoods to keep you and your family safe.”

In the City of Anaheim, a curfew of 6 p.m. was established over the weekend and continued through Monday as protests were held city-wide. The police department spoke against what happened in Minneapolis, but also asked its community to protest peacefully, respectfully and to remember the city is still recovering from coronavirus.

“We stand with those who peacefully express themselves over the tragic death of George Floyd. The incident goes against the core values of our city and the code of ethics Anaheim Police officers are sworn to uphold,” Police Chief Jorge Cisneros and Mayor Harry Sidhu wrote. “Anaheim, like others, is slowly recovering from the coronavirus crisis, which has hurt so many in our diverse city. Now is a time for healing, not more pain. Violence, destruction and harm to others can never be justified and will not be tolerated in Anaheim. Be a positive voice for the change you want to see by rejecting violence, respecting others and staying home. Anaheim stands with you.”

Anaheim released a video on Monday, June 1 to talk about upcoming peaceful protests and how to support public safety during those events.



Police Chief Mark Lauderback of Westminster Police Department applauded community members holding peaceful protests.  

“The Westminster Police Department stands shoulder to shoulder with our community as we mourn this tragic and unacceptable death,” Lauderback said. “Unfortunately those protesting peacefully have been overshadowed by looters who have taken advantage of a tragic event. We support peaceful protests and understand the outrage and change the community demands from law enforcement.”

As protests continued to escalate over the weekend, police departments watched as peaceful gatherings began to escalate toward violence, vandalism, stealing, looting and rioting.

In La Habra, the police department stepped in to assist neighboring Santa Ana Police Department, which grappled with riots over the weekend.  La Habra PD sent in a handful of its own officers and will continue to help as the unrest continues.

Photo courtesy Santa Ana Police Department

“Now more than ever, communities need our support. Whether it be in La Habra or a neighboring community, people should have the ability to express their beliefs safely,” said Captain Adam Foster, of the La Habra Police Department. “Our main goal is to keep the negative actions of a few from effecting the positive change that many desire.  

On Monday morning, the Santa Ana Police Department shared photos of community members helping clean up the damage that took place from the civil unrest.

“The tragic and deeply concerning incident that occurred in Minneapolis has understandably resulted in many strong feelings,” Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin wrote in a statement posted on Facebook. “We support everyone’s right to free speech and peaceful protest. However, we will not tolerate any injury or damage to property … Our community is grateful to finally be heading back to work after months of shelter at home order. Some of our much needed businesses are beginning to reopen. We must continue to keep our community and officers safe.”

As of Monday, June 1, most cities in counties from Los Angeles to San Bernardino to Orange had implemented a curfew as unrest, protests and vigils continued.

The City of Long Beach had a curfew starting at 1 p.m., cities throughout Orange County had curfews beginning as early as 6 p.m., and Pasadena had a 6 p.m. curfew in place.

Police departments remain vigilant and steadfast, prepared for the continued unrest, while encouraging residents to wear their masks and social distance as much as possible while out in their communities.

“We have much more work to do, and that’s not just with policing,” Pasadena Vice Mayor Hampton said. “We ask everyone to be safe. Work together. One community.  It is going to take a community to make changes. Come to City Council meetings. Call me. Call the chief. We want to hear from you. We want to hear your voice.”