Magnus discusses challenges facing police

Published: Jul. 18, 2016 at 4:46 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 19, 2016 at 2:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - For the first time since the shootings in St. Paul, MN, and Baton Rouge, LA, followed by police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Tucson's new police chief, Chris Magnus, talked about the challenges police face.

He's very pragmatic when it comes recognizing the needs of the officers, the community and those who may disagree.

Tucson News Now asked whether the tragedies that have received so much attention can be prevented.

"I wish I could say yes," Magnus said. "I think we can reduce the likelihood by tamping down some of the harsh rhetoric and by finding common ground."

Magnus gained international recognition when a photo was snapped of him holding a "Black Lives Matter" sign during a protest when he was police chief in Richmond, CA, last year.

Since then, and in light of the recent shootings, BLM has become racially charged.

Asked whether he regretted it, he said, "No because it was a time of healing and was a peaceful protest."

There has been a misreading of the BLM by some. Black Lives Matter means just that. Black lives matter as much as anyone's and for a long time, that was not the case.

Magnus has brought his concept of "community policing" to Tucson.

"I think that form or policing is critical as we move forward in uncertain times," he said. "Let's face it. There are going to be deranged individuals we have no control over, what they do, where they come from."

It's been widely discussed that some of the racial tensions that permeate many communities are a result of a disconnect between officers and the communities they serve.

Getting police officers out of their vehicles, to walk a foot patrol or ride bicycles so that officers can meet the community face to face, is thought to be a remedy to ease those tensions.

Tucson has embraced the concept.

Magnus is also a leading proponent of 21st Century "constitutional policing."

"We are in a unique position of protecting the constitution," he said.

As an example, he points out the police must protect people who protest, "even if we disagree with what they're saying" because the Constitution gives them that right.

If you would like to see the entire 17-minute interview, it is attached to this story.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.