By Louisa Moller

BOSTON (CBS) – For over two weeks, protests over police brutality have swept the nation prompting lawmakers to draft sweeping changes to police departments. Some protesters have called for police departments to be defunded. We turned to seven high-ranking police officers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to ask them how they feel about this moment in history.

“We’re being vilified for the actions of individuals which do not represent the profession,” Weare, New Hampshire Chief Christopher Moore said.

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Moore took to Facebook to defend his department’s reputation.

“We had 13,000 requests for police service just last year. In that, we had under 10 complaints,” he said.

Bedford, New Hamphire Police Chief John Bryfonski likened the plight of police officers to the alienation of soldiers who returned from the Vietnam War.

“Many of our colleagues, both men and women, have given their last full measure of life to ensure that. And to be painted with a broad brush by some is frustrating, demoralizing, unfair, perhaps,” Bryfonski said.

Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte worried that the current spotlight on police will hinder police recruitment. He said officers do not often feel like they can share their opinions or emotions.

“We see our duty is to be those people in our communities that are calm, that are resolute, that are trusted,” Delmonte said.

Many of the officers we spoke with said that more work is needed to highlight the positive interactions between their communities and their departments.

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“We had a stuff a cruiser event in November. We have our elder abuse awareness cookout,” said Gloucester Police Lieutenant Jeremiah Nicastro. “If people are going to look at me differently because of something somebody did in Minneapolis, come up to me and talk to me. Because, I’ll change your mind in about five minutes. That 99.99 percent of police officers are good people.”

Nicastro runs the Gloucester Department’s Community Impact Unit and has invited area youth to have conversations with officers in the midst of the pandemic and protests.

“I treat people the way I want to be treated. I don’t care what color you are,” Nicastro said.

Brookline Police Lieutenant Andrew Amendola echoed the call for conversation.

“Come learn about the police department. We want you guys to come to us, and listen to us, and ask questions,” Amendola said.
All of the officers said there is room for police reform.

“When we start thinking that we do not need to evolve and get better, than we become stagnant,” New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said.

“I think now some of our concerns are being listened to,” Hampden Chief and the President of the Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association Jeff Farnsworth said regarding conversations with state lawmakers.

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“Above all, it’s the sanctity of life for everybody,” Chief Bryfonski said.

Louisa Moller