Statement from Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts

City of Olympia
Date of Release: September 02, 2015

Lt Paul Lower
Public Information Officer

Statement from Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts

Olympia Police Chief, Ronnie Roberts, issued the following statement today regarding the Thurston County Prosecutor’s announcement of findings in the May 21, 2015 officer involved shooting investigation.

“Prosecutor Jon Tunheim has finished his work reviewing the Officer involved shooting investigation stemming from the May 21, 2015 shooting of Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson by Olympia Police Officer Ryan Donald. I would like to thank the community for their patience during this thorough investigative process.

Now that the Prosecutor’s work is complete, the Olympia Police Department will begin an internal review of this incident to determine whether the actions of Officer Donald violated any department policies and procedures.

The shooting review team is made up of the following individuals;

Deputy Chief Steve Nelson, Lieutenant Aaron Jelcick, Deputy City Attorney Darren Nienaber, Edward Prince, Executive Director for the Commission on African American Affairs, and a designated police guild representative.

The review team will convene as soon as can be scheduled with a goal of completing their work within two weeks. We will immediately release the results of this review once it is concluded.

As the Chief of Police, I will review the findings of the internal review and make a decision as to whether polices and/or procedures were violated. Because of this responsibility I cannot comment on the criminal investigation or prosecutor’s decision at this time.

This has been a difficult few months for the community and the Olympia Police Department. Issues of race, bias, power and privilege are challenging communities across the nation. We recognize there are members of the public that feel vulnerable and distrust the police. We are committed to improving these relationships.

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting with leaders of the Black Alliance of Thurston County. Leaders are present here and have a written statement of their own to provide. We have had difficult, honest and productive conversations about institutional bias in the criminal justice system, educational systems and other governmental services. These conversations have generated several actionable steps that can be taken to demonstrate OPD’s commitment to bias free policing:

  • Engage our community in meaningful conversations about the work we do and what guides police decision making.
  • Recognize that bias, both explicit and implicit, is present in institutions, including policing.
  • Review hiring best practices to determine ways to appropriately screen for bias.
  • Educate and train employees on implicit bias and affirmatively state we will not condone biased policing, and develop policy that clearly states that value.

There are a number of community organizations and groups facilitating conversations about policing in our city. Groups such as Unity in the Community, Interfaith Works, and the recently formed City Council ad-hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations have been and will continue to facilitate public meetings.

These forums are an excellent opportunity for everyone to express their experiences and opinions about policing. I encourage everyone to get involved in these important conversations.

Creating a community of value is the responsibility of everyone in our community. This means we treat each other fairly, with respect and dignity, and with impartiality.”