FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Nearly a year ago, protests erupted in downtown Fort Wayne in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by officers.
At the time, the city was divided, but has made great strides to bridges the gap between police and community.
One of the officers who had his boots on the ground during the demonstrations was Deputy Chief Mitch McKinney. He has served the community for more than 20 years, mainly with the Fort Wayne Police Department.
Recently he announced his bid as the Republican candidate for Allen County Sheriff.
McKinney told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that learning from the community is a humbling experience, but it’s important to officers. When reflecting on the events that took place last summer, he said it was heartbreaking.
“You know it is hard, because people stop looking at you as a person of color and they start looking at you just by the badge,” Deputy Chief McKinney said. “We are fathers, mothers, grandmothers, coaches, ministers, people in the community, and we want to be viewed that way. Especially when you walk into a community of color and people ignore you because you are a police officer. That hurts you down to your soul.”
McKinney said he believed that there were a lot of false narratives at the time of the protests, as well. In response to the protest, the Commission on Police Reform and Racial Justice was formed, with representatives from the mayor’s office, Fort Wayne Police, Councilwoman at-large Michelle Chambers and the Boys and Girls Clubs.
McKinney said it was rough at times, but after eight and a half months, the group was able to finalize its report. McKinney said he’s noticed progress in Fort Wayne from a year ago.
“I see us as much better because we keep pushing forward. We keep looking for ways to network and the biggest thing is to make sure our training is still solid and moving forward,” McKinney said. “It has been great to be part of the united front so that people are seeing ongoing training, understand bias, understand conclusion, and to see where we are actually doing that at the department. Plus, we have a new recruitment team that started. We are out in the community bringing people that match the community. We are reaching out to more people of color, we are reaching out to people in the community, saying ‘Hey, policing is a great career, and we want you to police here in Allen County.'”
WANE 15 is hosting a live panel discussion featuring various leaders across our community and demonstrators who made their voices heard. SUBMIT A QUESTION FOR THE PANEL
- Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry
- Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux
- Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers
- Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander
- Rev. Bill McGill
- Two local demonstrators
To submit a question for our Focus 15: Police and the Community live discussion, CLICK HERE. Video submissions are encouraged. You can also tweet a question using the #FOCUS15 hashtag on Twitter.
Join us LIVE on Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m. on wane.com for this important discussion.