A call for Accountability, Action, and Justice for the Eden Valley Police Department

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We, the local community members, family members, and concerned citizens, and EV-W alumni are addressing the need for police reform and accountability within the Eden Valley and Watkins police department.

The Eden Valley-Watkins residents need and deserve more from a Chief of Police and police officers in the community. From recent publicly streamed events, initiated by the appointed Chief of Police, Ernie Junker, it's clear that we need change. There were comments from Ernie Junker, Stearns County Deputy Dennis Kern, and former Officer Todd Rohloff with derogatory statements regarding police brutality, racial statements, and speech written encouraging violence in the community.

It is imperative that Eden Valley and Watkins support it's community and condemn these incidences. We are demanding that the following actions be taken by the elected officials in the Eden Valley City Council and Mayor:

-- Address and condemn the incidences and remarks on police brutality that were made directly from The Eden Valley-Watkins law enforcement. This includes a public statement from the city officials and public apology from Ernie Junker.
Incidences/Comments that were posted included: [1] Ernie Junker posted, "This is a joke. The only way to deal with these criminal thugs is by force PERIOD." The usage of the word "thugs" is a clear racist dog whistle. Junker's language shows that he is not here to protect all members of the community.

 

-- Hold all of the law enforcement parties involved accountable for racist and violent encouraging speech (overt or covert) that was made, and hold all law enforcement officers accountable going forward. Make these consequences transparent. Consequences should get more severe upon repeated offenses.

 

-- Make every effort to discourage and prevent police from derogatory statements and dialog that encourages hatred and violence in their position of power. Ignoring is not an option. 
[2] Ernie Junker wrote himself "FOLLOW ORDERS AND DIRECTION OR BAD THINGS CAN HAPPEN." [3] Todd Rohloff, a former police offer, responded to Ernie's post by saying "Start shooting these fucks!" and Dennis Kern responded, not by condemning it, but by saying, "You can tell who is retired!" [4] Dennis Kern, of the Stearns County Sheriff's Department, stated "Imagine if Stearns County gets any of the Floyd trials..." This was all on Ernie's post that he initiated and he moderated. The comments from the other police officers could have easily been called out from Ernie as a police and community leader, but instead he added to the dialog. Therefore, encouraging brutality and violence. 

 

-- Use these incidences as an opportunity for law enforcement and local officials to learn how their actions, comments, and public conversations affect the community members, fellow officers, and all those they serve. This includes an all-staff training that focuses on anti-racism, de-escalation tactics, and implicit bias'.

 

We call you to take action.