VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The Volusia County Sheriff's Office will begin anti-bias training on Thursday after a story that made national headlines left an innocent jogger detained temporarily.
Joseph Griffin said he was caught by surprise when he was jogging in his neighborhood in late August and then suddenly became surrounded by deputies. Body camera video showed deputies tell Griffin that he matched the description of a burglary suspect.
“You’re not in any trouble or anything. There was a burglary that happened, you kind of fit the description. Let me just make sure you’re not him OK,” the deputy says. They eventually detained Griffin. "I’m gonna detain you, look, you're not under arrest. I'm detaining you right now because you fit the description."
Eventually, Griffin was cleared and let go. He is a registered nurse now in Volusia County but he said that his former experience as law enforcement in the military taught him to remain calm and compliant during this situation. Nonetheless, he said the incident was "unnerving" and "embarrassed him."
“When you see your neighbor get pulled over and talk to the cops, perception is reality at that point and you’re gonna automatically assume that you know they’re doing something,” Griffin explained.
Wanting to tell his side of the story, Griffin and the Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood have agreed to team up and use the incident as a learning experience for both citizens and law enforcement. The department will undergo a biased training series on Thursday and Griffin will participate.
“I just want them to kind of sympathize and put themselves in the other person’s shoes sometimes,” said Griffin.
“The keyword we both talked on the phone was empathy. People need to understand how we do our job -- which a lot of people don’t understand -- and people need to understand when you’re being stopped what that perspective is,” said Sheriff Chitwood.
The training session starts at 9 a.m. in Daytona Beach.
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