Missoula City Police Chief Jaeson White is communicating with the media directly after the nationwide reaction to the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Chief White spoke with KGVO News on Thursday after releasing a You Tube video with Mayor John Engen in which he said there was no evidence that outside agitators were involved in Black Lives Matter protests in Missoula.

White described the role that local police are playing in the current Missoula protests.

“Our role is to make sure we facilitate those first amendment rights and making sure that people are able to have their voices heard and do it in a lawful and peaceful manner,” said Chief White. “People that are standing on the sidewalk and not interfering with traffic and doing those things to have their voices heard. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Referencing what happened with George Floyd in Minneapolis, Chief White said his officers are highly trained in public safety combined with the proper restraint.

“There are techniques to get someone compliant, to overcome resistance or deal with the threat of that person,” he said. “However, the most important piece of all of that is once you’re at a point where someone is no longer resisting or is no longer a threat to themselves or the public or the officer, there has got to be a 100 percent de-escalation of what’s going on.”

White described the process in which an officer must use force in a law enforcement situation.

“Anything that has the potential to get elevated to an arrest situation or something along those lines, then there’s generally going to be two officers there,” he said. “We also have our supervisory staff that are on duty. We have corporals, we have sergeants, we have lieutenants, in fact, we have a whole command staff of first line supervisors and managers that are out there monitoring calls, monitoring our officers, responding to those events and providing that supervisory management oversight on scene.”

White was asked how the public would be involved in such a process.

“Missoula has a police commission,” he said. “The police commission has the authority to review our use-of-force incidents, and they have the authority to review all of our citizen complaints,” he said. “So, not only is it handled internally, but there is also an independent police commission that is appointed by the city to oversee our operations to make sure that we are being transparent and that we are being thorough in our investigations.”

After a career with the California Highway Patrol, White took over in March after former Chief Mike Brady retired. He was the choice after a nationwide search for the new police chief.

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