Two years ago today, Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging down a suburban Brunswick, Ga., street. His death resonated nationwide after a video of the murder went viral months later. In Arbery’s native Glynn County, the effects of his death still are reverberating and translating into substantive change in the law enforcement and judicial system, Axios reports. Much scrutiny has landed on the county police officers who responded to the scene of Arbery’s murder. They did not arrest any of the men present, even though two of them possessed guns and literally had blood on their hands. Two years later, that department is embarking on major structural changes and reforms, led by a newly sworn in police chief.
After a national search co-led by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Jacques Battiste was sworn in last December, the first Black person to hold the position full time. Battiste said the department is looking for ways to "get beyond policing" by assigning officers to attend community events and facilitating internship programs for young people. "All of these things serve to greater enhance people’s understanding of law enforcement," he said. County Commissioner Allen Booker noted positive change with Battiste. “Without the chief setting the tone none of this would have been possible,” Booker said. “We’d still be in a situation where the Black community would not be trusting the police.”