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Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr.’s Statement To Staff And The Community About The Killing Of George Floyd

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. (Photo: Courtesy of Suffolk County Sheriff's Office)

An Open Letter to Sheriff's Office Employees and the Community

In my 30 years of service, I have never witnessed such a cruel and heinous act of violence by anyone wearing the uniform as we saw in Minnesota last week. The killing of George Floyd is so contrary to the mission of law enforcement, and to the Oath that officials take to uphold the Constitution.

We hear this a lot - that we are sworn to uphold the Constitution. What does this mean? Law enforcement officials take an oath to protect the rights of their citizens which are bestowed upon them by the Constitution of the United States of America. It does not grant law enforcement extraordinary powers, but instead entrusts those who are Sworn to "insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…".

We must never forget that we are here to protect the rights of the People.

Thoughtful individuals throughout our nation will draw their own conclusions about what the killing of George Floyd represents to them. They will also draw their own conclusions about what the ensuing violence, looting, and rage means for America. As the Sheriff of Suffolk County, and the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, my primary concern is that we never forget that we work for the People - and that we are here to ensure their well-being, public safety, and to protect their rights.

To our community, I want you to know that the men and women of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office will continue to protect and serve with pride, professionalism, and honor. We will continue to build on the trust we have worked so hard to establish along with you. Trust, transparency, and collaboration will continue to resonate from our office. Please do not let this criminal act taint your opinion of the entire law enforcement community. We are here for you when you need us.

To the men and women of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, I ask that you continue to do the great work you have been doing and not let the actions of these four former officers deter you from your excellent work. I am proud to be your Sheriff, and I know that we are an Organization that continues to shine both in New York State and the nation.

Together we and our community will get through this.

About Dr. Errol D. Toulon, Jr.

On January 1, 2018, Errol D. Toulon, Jr., Ed.D., became Suffolk County, New York's 67th Sheriff and the County's first African-American to be elected to a non-judicial countywide office. As Suffolk's highest-ranking law enforcement official, he is working to serve and protect the county's 1.5 million residents through innovative programs to reduce crime and recidivism, and by implementing sound fiscal policies.

Sheriff Toulon is highly focused on using data analytics and technological assets to capture crime patterns --which are used to uncover trends like drug dealing in local neighborhoods and the movement of international gangs encroaching into parts of Suffolk County. Early in his term, he reorganized departments into multi-disciplinary teams focused on corrections intelligence gathering, violent crimes, gang activity and human trafficking.

In his first year, and in the wake of heightened violence in schools nationwide, Sheriff Toulon launched the Sandy Hook Promise School Safety Initiative. Since then, more than 22,000 students have been taught to recognize the signs of a peer in distress, especially on social media, and how to report concerning information to a trusted adult.

He has also made it a priority to get to the root causes of youthful delinquency and inter-generational crime. In October 2018, Sheriff Toulon launched a task force named Deconstructing the Prison Pipeline to study these issues, drive policy discussions, and implement solutions. Simultaneously, he greatly expanded correctional rehabilitation programming aimed to reduce recidivism and improve offenders' desistance from crime. In just 2 years, he launched Choose Your Path for young adults, Choose to Thrive for incarcerated women, a Senior Citizen Program POD, and made significant improvements to the Sheriff's Addiction Treatment Program. He also launched the nation's first jail-based Human Trafficking Initiative which assesses all county inmates for signs of victimization. Programming is offered to both pre-trial and sentenced individuals and is aimed at addressing the needs and deficits correlated with criminal activity, such as substance abuse, mental health issues, limited educational and employment skills, transportation, housing, and identification issues.

Sheriff Toulon has more than 30 years of criminal-justice experience, heavily centered upon corrections intelligence and combating gang violence. Prior to serving as Suffolk County Sheriff, Errol worked for 22 years as a Uniformed Member of Service with the New York City Department of Correction. In July of 2014, he was named Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the New York City Department of Correction.

Sheriff Toulon is certified through the Department of Homeland Security in Emergency Planning, Radiological Emergency Management, Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing, WMD Threat and Risk Assessment and State Disaster Management. In addition, he is certified to teach courses in weapons of mass destruction awareness, National Incident Management Systems (NIMS), domestic terrorism and hate crimes. He received his Master's degree in Business Administration and Doctorate in Educational Administration from Dowling College; an advanced certificate in Homeland Security Management from Long Island University, and he attended leadership courses at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.

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