Dear Chief Mike Chitwood,
RE: Officer Wright’s actions on Thursday December 20th at Best Buy and Chief Chitwood’s following defense of the situation regarding Elizabeth Beeland.
Tasing a woman with electrical shock “so that she calms down” is not an appropriate action for a Peace Officer (what was once the term before “Police Officer” and still alluded to in your mission statement).
The mission on the Daytona Beach Police Department’s website states: “to achieve a safe, crime free community….we commit ourselves to protecting, defending and serving the residents of and visitors to, the Daytona Beach Community.”
It is not hard for someone to come under control with some calm wording and simple counseling techniques that anyone can employ. For Officer Wright to become engaged in physical confrontation with a customer I conclude that 1) Officer Wright was not trained in de-escalation techniques 2) your philosophy as Chief is that of oppression, akin to a police-state-mentality and not of peace keeping 3) your philosophy must change or you will lose your job as well as those officers who employ your philosophy of brute force.
I have seen the footage from the Best Buy camera and Ms. Beeland is retreating from Officer Wright, and Officer Wright got caught up in a cat and mouse pursuit, instead of trying to resolve the situation with skill. This is in complete violation of your mission statement “we commit ourselves to protecting, defending and serving the residents of and visitors to the Daytona Beach Community.”
Your defense for Officer Wrights actions are understandable from a loyalty perspective, however from an ethical perspective, you let down your community and furthermore loudly expressed your acceptance for a police-state mentality over the community in which you empowered to protect.
If this is indeed your perspective, then I will wager that you and your staff all will be subject to a civil law suit, costing you and your officers’ great dishonor in the eyes of your “served” citizens of Daytona Beach.
If you change positions now, and put an immediate leave of absence upon Officer Wright stating, “after further review of the situation the Officer acted outside of reasonable action of this Police Department”, then you may still save the face of your department, although only a public apology to the community at large and especially Elizabeth Beeland will provide solace to a community that is no doubt much more likely to distrust your service.
Here is hoping you, Chief Mike Chitwood, make the correct action to resolve this horrendous situation.