Jefferson County agency leaders joined to sign the cultural training resolution on Dec. 6.Representatives from law enforcement, the court system, local government and area agencies gathered Dec. 6, to sign a resolution agreeing to require ethics and cultural competency training for all staff members.

A letter for Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office commended Jefferson County and local agencies on the step, and called it a “shining example” for the rest of the state.

Several of those signing made comments including Jeff Lichtenberg, director of Jefferson County Community Justice, who said his department supervises over 500 juveniles and adults. “All our staff attended the cultural trainings and learned ways to interact better with diverse cultures.”

Sheriff Jim Adkins noted he grew up being used to multiple cultures in Jefferson County. “When I became sheriff, my mission statement was to serve everybody equally and with dignity and respect,” he said, which the training helps promote.

Judge Daniel Ahern also grew up in the county and has been employed for 25 years for the county or state in Jefferson County. “Our job is public service, and you have to know the public you’re serving. So much of that (in the legal system) is how people are treated from the very beginning. Understanding culture is a general learning process and it will make us better at what we do,”Ahern said.

County Commissioner Mike Ahern said of the cultural diversity in Jefferson County, “I told my kids `Face it and embrace it,’ and I enjoy it. The more you learn about other cultures, the more you’ll like them,” he said, emphasizing, “It’s a process, a lifestyle, not something you do one day at a training.”

Attorney Jennifer Kimble, who only represents indigent clients, said during cultural training given to a group of court-appointed attorneys, said, “I realized we really needed it to be able to communicate more effectively with our clients. We learned we need to be respectful, build trust with clients, and understand where they are coming from.”

Sonya Littledeer-Evans and Erin Tofte of the Let’s Talk Diversity Coalition hosted the signing event. Their group helped offer the free cultural trainings for the past five years, did assessments of the community, and proposed the resolution which was signed.

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