For more than a week, the community has seen daily protests surrounding the death of Daniel Prude in police custody. Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says in order to move forward as a community, police have to listen to the concerns of the public.
"And we got to acknowledge their pain, we have to acknowledge their frustration and acknowledge that we've been talking about this stuff for decades and in some eyes, things have not changed and other people's eyes things have changed, but we have to do much better," said Baxter.
The March incident involving Prude has raised many questions about law enforcement and the protocols used when responding to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Baxter wouldn't directly criticize the RPD officers' actions, but says he expects his officers to treat people with empathy and compassion.
"We've all seen a naked guy taken into custody and then sit in the middle of an avenue in a cold, naked state for a long, long time, let alone when they had to use more force on him and escalate. That's the part that gets me, where's the empathy and compassion. Let's get this guy on a gurney as quickly as possible. Let's get him where he needs to be. Let's get a blanket around him," said Baxter.
Like other city and local leaders, Baxter says he was shocked when he heard RPD Chief La'Ron Singletary and the entire command staff was either retiring or taking a former rank. He says he and Singletary would always bounce ideas off of one another, which is something he truly appreciated.
"I'm an older white male right that's been a cop for some 30 years. He's a younger African American male that's in charge of a large police department and we see things different and we would bounce those perspectives off one another. That's the part I enjoyed working with La'Ron. He has a different point of view then I have," said Baxter.
Baxter says because of what's going on, fewer people want to become police officers. He has seen a decline in people applying to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. He's hoping that people can still see that police still serve and protect.
"You know, we have to do a better job I think of taking credit for when we do wrong, but it's also important to champion when we do it right and what these servants are doing right now as we're speaking, so people are encouraged to become law enforcement," said Baxter.