DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — After waiting nearly a year to hear the fate of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who killed George Floyd, the jury’s guilty verdict on Tuesday has many Americans feeling that some changes may be on the horizon.
Those changes could manifest in a number of ways, but Dr. Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a law professor at the University of Dayton, said the first may be a reevaluation of practices among police officers.
“What I think was different [this time], is that you actually had police officers who actually put the rule of law ahead of another police officer,” Hoffmeister said. “And so one thing I think that you may start seeing more and more is that rather than try to hide these bad apples, that you expose these bad apples because these bad apples, like officer Chauvin, will bring down the entire police force.”
The tool that will continue to make that possible, he said, is cameras.
“I think one thing you’ll definitely see, is just more cameras because I don’t know if you’d have the same outcome if you didn’t have the video recording. So I think that’s going to become the standard. That the actions of police officers, especially when there’s physical contact with another citizen, is going to be recorded in some fashion.”
Former Ohio state senator, Peggy Lehner, agreed, saying video footage could contribute to a new level of police accountability.
“This jury for one reason or another, perhaps just the overwhelming amount of evidence, was able to look past that traditional the ‘policeman’s always right.’”
She added, while there has been no notable precedent to determine how legislation is likely to play out following a verdict of this nature, policy changes could be in the making. This includes more in-depth training of law enforcement officials involved with civilians experiencing mental illness or drug use disorders.
“Not only does that mean making sure that they have Narcan and things like that in their cars, but also that they know how to deescalate a situation where someone is obviously impaired in their thinking.”
She said following the verdict, however, that Americans should be careful to consider all of the facts in police interactions with civilians before making a determination of ‘guilty’ for either party. And while both Lehner and Hoffmeister agree that Chauvin’s conviction is just one step in a long and somewhat unpredictable road toward continued justice, Hoffmeister said the takeaway is that they justice system is always at work, and police who do break the law “will be held accountable.”