I only have one real talent.

I’m a pretty good writer, but as I look at what is happening in the country right now I am at a loss for words.

As I sit at my desk to write this article it is June 15.

The country is picking up the pieces after weeks of riots, looting and murders. Law enforcement personnel all over the country have been attacked and their families threatened, even here in Redwood Falls.

Now, officers across the country are submitting letters of resignation in ever increasing numbers.

All this started because one police officer ignored standard use of force training and Minnesota law, which caused the death of an African American male named George Floyd.

Imagine, one man’s actions resulted in multiple deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage. Don’t misunderstand; I hold the people who are rioting and looting responsible for their actions just like I hold that officer responsible for his actions.

However, if there is one message that needs to be spread right now it’s that everyone – police officers included – must resist the temptation of prejudicial thinking to take over.

This is not a new message.

After a terrorist attack we are reminded not all Muslims are radical terrorists.

When a person in mental health crisis conducts a mass shooting we are reminded not all gun owners or people with mental health disorders are mass shooters.

Likewise, not all protesters are violent rioters and looters.

By the same logic, not all police officers are racists or murderers.

Most of us will never be placed in a situation where our actions will have repercussions that spread across the country, but our actions can have an effect locally.

So I encourage you to stop and talk with your local police officers. Get to know them, and you will quickly learn they are not racists and murderers.

They are your neighbors here in Redwood Falls who, like you, just want to live in a safe community, and it will help remind the officer there are good people here who reject the notion they are a racist or murderer simply because of their chosen profession.

I don’t know when things will return to normal, and I don’t know how to resolve the divisions within this country.

At the end of the day, you can only control your own thoughts, words and deeds. So focus on the positive and avoid prejudicial thinking in all its forms.

- Jason Cotner serves as the chief of the Redwood Falls Police Department