Arlington police chief talks openly during National Night Out

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As protests took center stage at parts of National Night Out, the Arlington Police Department chief was meeting with other members of the community on a trolley.

The trolley ride to several Tuesday night events took Police Chief Will Johnson, the Arlington mayor and his wife.

The first stop was at the Boys and Girls Club of Arlington. The chief and other officers talked to kids who had questions for them.

The next stop was at the Parkview neighborhood in East Arlington. Residents there were very pro-police. Some of them have lived there for decades.

Lastly, there was a stop at a central Arlington gathering with about 100 people in attendance. The Hispanic Citizens Police Academy alumni was there. One citizen who was well aware of the recent officer-involved shooting in Arlington says she appreciates events like this.

“Being able to be here and meet the officers individually and as a group, it’s helped me to see their point of view and the hard work that they bring to the community,” said Osiris Lerma. “It’s really motivating and inspiring and a true privilege to be around them.”

The Arlington Police Department is no stranger to protests and criticism by community activists —specifically, the officer-involved shooting of Oshae Terry.

Christian Taylor, 19, was shot and killed by Arlington Officer Brad Miller in August 2015. It also made national headlines and sparked community protests, prompting APD to craft a video highlighting the city's response and lessons learned.

Chief Will Johnson says at National Night Out events like this, he just tries to be honest.

“We just talk very transparently and openly about the facts that we know,” the chief said. “The O’Shae Terry case is a recent case, and so that’s not fully finalized yet. The conversation we can have about that case is a much different conversation we can have been fully finalized.”

Johnson said the details he can talk about in the O’Shae Terry case are very limited since it’s still an open investigation.

“But I do think it’s very unfortunate, whether it’s an individual or groups of individuals trying to escalate incidents, particularly officers on traffic stops and then challenging the officer’s very response.” He said. “That is a dangerous situation for any officer to be at.”

The department is still reviewing the possibility of releasing the officer’s name.