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EPPD Chief Allen addresses backlash stemming from Black Lives Matter comments

El Paso Mayor, County Judge at odds over police chief's comments

EL PASO, Texas - The chief of El Paso police said Monday the statements he made Friday regarding Black Lives Matter "were made during an emotional time."

"I hope everyone can respect that. I am a police officer first and foremost and it truly pains me any time an officer is killed," EPPD Chief Greg Allen said in a statement.

Allen did not offer an apology.  Read Chief Allen's statement

During a news conference Friday, a reporter asked Allen what he thought about the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Black Lives Matter, as far as I'm concerned is a radical hate group," Allen responded, "And for that purpose alone, I think the leadership of this country needs to look a little bit harder at that particular group. The consequences of what we saw in Dallas is due to their efforts."

Watch Chief Allen's comments on Black Lives Matter

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said Monday he is disappointed local elected officials criticized Chief Allen over his comments about Black Lives Matter without first reaching out to the police chief.

"You know, it's really important to get someone's viewpoint and understand where you are coming from," Leeser said, "I was very disappointed with the letter."

Saturday, El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar sent out a letter expressing disappointment and concern with Allen's comments.  The letter sent was signed by other locally elected leaders, such as state representatives, the state senator, Congressman Beto O'Rourke and members of the local NAACP chapter.

To read the letter, click here.

"I talked to Chief Allen and I asked him: 'of all the people who signed the letter, has one person reached out to you and called you?' He said, 'absolutely not. not one person has attempted to call me and talk to me about it.' And that is very disturbing to me," Leeser said Monday.

The mayor said he believed the police chief was "emotional at the time" he made the comments.

"I find the letter very inappropriate and I find the tweets very inappropriate because no one had any conversation with the chief. I'm a little bit offended that they would have done that without having conversation first," Leeser added.

City Manager Tommy Gonzalez echoed Mayor Leeser's sentiments.  "We were founded on the idea of, in America, having the right to speak your mind," Gonzalez said, "I know when you are in a position of authority people listen to that. So, there has to be some measure."

Gonzalez said he does not "think it's appropriate for me to shove my beliefs down anyone's throat. We need to listen to all points of view. All points of views matter. People's lives matter. Black lives matter. I think it's important for us to realize (Chief Allen's) comments were made in a high level of emotion."

County Judge Escobar said Monday she would never have gone directly to Chief Allen. "So if (Mayor Leeser) is saying we should go directly to their employees and circumvent the bosses, that's not the protocol any of us are used to or feel is appropriate," Escobar said, "That would be contrary to professional engagement. And so we went directly to the governing body."

Escobar said Leeser may be disappointed in the letter but "Those of us who wrote it are very disappointed in the words uttered by his police chief. And if those are the values that the city feels are appropriate for their highest law enforcement official, that speaks volumes."


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