In a video message on the village’s Facebook page, Mayor Rory Hoskins addressed the George Floyd killing and his “full confidence in the Forest Park police department.”
“As the first black mayor of Forest Park and first black elected official of Forest Park, I have personally had a lot of experiences with racism,” said Hoskins in the video.
But on more than one occasion, he said, he’s had in-depth conversations with Police Chief Tom Aftanas, conversations that give him certainty that the town’s police officers are properly trained to do their jobs with integrity, but also to recognize and call out one another for inappropriate actions.
Not long after the killing of George Floyd, he and Aftanas discussed their thoughts about and reactions to the video, which they had both watched.
“We talked about Forest Park’s training and our personal reactions to the video,” said Hoskins. “We shared a lot of our personal experiences. Tom [Aftanas] and I have enough of a candid relationship that I’m confident in our police department, their training, and their sensibilities as they relate to policing the action of their peers.”
Hoskins said he and Aftanas also spoke at length just prior to him taking office. The talk, he said, was “candid.”
“I want you to know, residents of Forest Park who are especially sensitive to George Floyd’s death, that we have an ongoing dialogue and I am very confident in the training of our first responders… I know about Forest Park’s reputation from past decades, but that reputation doesn’t reflect the current personnel working for our police department,” said Hoskins in the video.
On May 31, during the looting in nearby towns, Aftanas spoke to the Review and said he’d watched the George Floyd video. He said he wanted to see if in any way the treatment of George Floyd could be understood.
“Why would the officer do that?” asked Aftanas. “Is there any justification at all?” The answer, he said, is no.
“There is no justification for what happened, and there is no cop in Forest Park who thinks so,” said Aftanas.