SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The San Francisco 49ers management teamed with police Thursday to sign a new pledge aimed at easing tensions between officers and the public.
The pledge signed by San Francisco 49ers officials and police unions from major cities across the country calls for more understanding and a safer America.
It’s the first of its kind agreement between law enforcement unions and an NFL team.
The move comes one year after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protest movement of players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Kaepernick and current 49er Eric Reid helped spark the movement on the field that has become a nationwide controversy and a political lightning rod, drawing repeated comments from President Donald Trump.
On Thursday at Levi’s Stadium, team management struck a different tone. Team officials joined forces with eight police unions that arrived in town from major cities including New York, Los Angeles and Portland, signing a pledge to improve police-community relations.
“It’s about mutual respect and coming together,” said President of the San Jose Police Officers Association Paul Kelly.
The pledge also calls for a ban on “bump stocks,” the device used to convert semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic by the gunman in the Las Vegas massacre.
49ers owner Jed York called it common sense to ban bump stocks.
“It just seems insane to me that a citizen can buy something like that,” said York. “If we want to keep stadiums safer and entertainment venues safer, we have to be vigilant about bump stocks and other things like that.”
In signing the pledge, the 49ers committed to produce public service announcements and donate $500,000 to the partnership.
The public service announcements set to play on NFL Sundays will be aimed at helping the public understand the difficulties and dangers of police work.
“We do not take these steps lightly today,” said the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s Rob Harris. “If, however, we as a country hope to make any progress toward making a more understanding and safer country, it will take all of us to leave our comfort zones.”
“I think today’s message is leadership. And I commend Mr. York and the organizations that are here for beginning to address the issues that are dividing this nation,” said Ed Mullins of the NYPD Sergeants’ Union.
But despite the pledges stated aim of improving relationships between the community and officers, there was no word about the national anthem protests still be made by NFL players.
“It’s disrespectful to the military, our nation and law enforcement,” Kelly said when asked about the protests Thursday.
A few weeks ago, Reid defended the NFL players who were continuing to protest during the national anthem.
“I am happy we can use this opportunity to further the conversation,” Reid said.
“It’s talk. That’s continued to be talk. There’s nothing that’s been done, as far as I’m concerned, from it. We’re talking about doing something today,” said Kelly. “We cannot dwell on what upsets us. Our responsibility to our communities and fellow officers is too great to sacrifice for hard feelings.”
When KPIX 5 asked about the national anthem protests against police brutality and the fact that the pledge doesn’t address the players protests, Kelly replied, “I would say stand up and taking the time to sit with us and work through it like the organization is.”
York declined to say whether he had discussed the 49ers joining in this agreement with players who have taken a knee.
“I don’t think that this has to do with protesting,” said York. “This is about trying to find common sense legislation.”
While the police union presidents were adamant that they don’t agree with the ongoing national anthem protests, they do want to partner with more NFL teams and are asking more teams sign the pledge.