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Sheriff: Stance on upcoming Ferguson grand jury decision

As Sheriff of Rockdale County, I would like to take a moment to inform the citizens of Rockdale County of my position on the forthcoming grand jury decision coming out from Ferguson, Missouri. Over the past several weeks, I, along with members of my command staff, the Rockdale County School Superintendent, and various local clergy have been attending meetings with other Metro Atlanta community leaders on the upcoming decision out of Ferguson, MO. These meetings have taken place at the DeKalb County Public School Central Offices and were spearheaded by Dr. Cedric Alexander, DeKalb County Public Safety Director. The purpose of these meetings were to bring local law enforcement agencies, local school systems, clergy, civil rights activist, college personnel, and students representing various school districts together so that we could collaborate and work together for proactive steps to ensure peace, quiet, and respect for all citizens when the grand jury decision is announced in regards to the indictment decision of Officer Darren Wilson.

I want everyone to understand that there have been many speculations about what happened during and after the police shooting in Ferguson, MO. The decision coming from the Ferguson, MO grand jury in the near future has many people speculating the outcome and planning protests or rallies no matter the outcome. Rockdale County is a peaceful county and the citizens have always governed themselves with dignity, respect, and honor despite unpopular or controversial decisions. I understand that citizens can, will, and are even obligated to exercise their First Amendment rights to exercise their freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. As your Sheriff, it is my responsibility to uphold and defend those rights and I ask you all to ensure that any such assemblages are peaceful and respectful of the rights and property of others in the community.

I want you all to know that since taking office on January 1, 2013, I, along with the men and women of the RCSO, have worked hard to be transparent and earn your trust as we go about making Rockdale County safe. I speak for all of the hard working and dedicated men and women of the RCSO when I say that we are here to "protect and serve" each of you. Each of us have taken an oath of office to carry out and uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Georgia Constitution, and we will continue to do so with the highest level or professionalism and honor. We will peacefully enforce the laws with the necessary sensitivity given this situation, but we will also maintain and keep the peace for the safety of all residents, business owners, and visitors to Rockdale County.

I want to thank all Rockdale County citizens for how you have presented yourself thus far on the events taking place in Ferguson, MO. I will continue to provide the highest level of training possible to the men and women of the RCSO so they can continue with their job in making Rockdale County safe for you, your family, and your friends. I leave you with the RCSO Mission, hoping that it will give you some insight into the RCSO and the men and women that are out here serving you each and every day.

The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office Mission is to reduce crime, safely house inmates, bring offenders to justice, and perform the mandated services of the Office of Sheriff with the highest level of safety, professionalism and integrity.

Sheriff Eric J. Levett,
Rockdale County