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LETTER — Police department has a plan for protests

To The Editor:

The mission of the Farmville Police Department is to provide a safe and secure community through excellence in public service.

It is fortunate that the protests in our community have not been violent and have been peaceful. As we all have seen, this is not the case throughout the nation. It is our duty to ensure the public safety of all citizens, including those protesting.

Last week, we established an Incident Action Plan (IAP), which is a formal document that specifies goals, objectives, and response actions for emergency situations, specifically, if there were to be any type of violence or unrest related to protests or counter-protests.

We worked in collaboration with the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County leadership/administration, and Virginia Department of Emergency Management to create this plan and specify the duties and responsibilities of all public safety and government entities involved.

The information within the IAP is for operational purposes only and cannot be disclosed to the public. Doing so could not only affect the public safety of our citizens, but also the safety of law enforcement, as well. It is for this reason that further information was not shared in our press release last week and will not be shared regarding the IAP in the future.

It is imperative that we are prepared for any type of situation, whether there is a direct or specified threat of such a situation occurring or not. We did not and do not expect for the peaceful protests to become violent, but are prepared if that should happen or if any type of counter-protest should occur that could become violent.

Although we have had peaceful events thus far, it is not unlikely that groups from other localities could bring people to protest here. We have removed the benches and trash cans from downtown to ensure that they cannot be used inappropriately in any way. Although some may see this as an overreaction, it is simply preparation in order to ensure the safety of all, including business owners and the public.

The safety of all of our citizens is our goal and we will continue to ensure community safety through preparedness, by working with our community partnerships, and utilizing crime prevention strategies while supporting citizens’ constitutional right to share their views and perspectives.

Citizens are encouraged to follow the Town of Farmville Facebook page in order to receive information regarding public safety.

Anthony Q. Ellington Sr.

Chief, Farmville Police Department