Truax & Wenzl: An open letter to the Forest Grove community
As the mayor and president of your City Council, we have listened to and heard the comments made over the past week by former Police Chief Janie Schutz regarding her employment with the city.
The city does not typically respond to comments such as these. However, the allegations being made paint a picture of our city which is not only misleading but also unjust for and unfair to the city employees who work tirelessly towards making our community an amazing place to live, work, and recreate. Thus, as your mayor and council president, we feel compelled to respond.
Ms. Schutz has made many allegations related to our city management team, which are factually inaccurate at best. The full letter to the community detailing these inaccuracies can be found on the city's website at forestgrove-or.gov/citycouncil/page/open-letter-forest-grove-community.
Read a point-by-point response from the authors of this letter to Janie Schutz's allegations on the Forest Grove city website.
Additionally, we want to reiterate for the community and our employees that the policies that the city has in place for our employees reflect the principles and standards of our community.
It is city policy to provide respect and support for our employees. We provide a workplace free of harassment, bigotry and discrimination of any kind, and we fully investigate and work to resolve workplace issues when they arise. Our resolve on these issues has not changed and, in fact, the number one priority goal for your City Council this year is to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the delivery of city services and operations.
Attrition in the Forest Grove Police Department was a major issue under Ms. Schutz's leadership — so much so that the city had to contract with the county to ensure full-time coverage.
As of today, however, the city's police department is almost back to full strength. Under our new leadership with Chief Henry Reimann, we have 22 of our 24 patrol officer positions filled. We have stopped losing officers on a regular basis and are close to being able to terminate our contract with the county so that we can once again provide full-time police services on our own. Morale is up in the department even as we as a society work through significant issues dealing with police services. The city is establishing a Community Policing Commission composed of social justice, business, and minority interests. Its purpose is to assure transparency and trust in our police department. The future is bright and that is where we as a city desire to focus our attention.
The strength of our community rests in large part on the hard work of our city staff. From city management down the line, our employees demonstrate an unparalleled dedication to our residents and businesses. They make Forest Grove a wonderful place to ply our wares and rest our heads, and we are grateful to them. We hope that this letter, in some small part, brings them some solace to allow them to move past the reopening of old wounds caused by Ms. Schutz's comments. With our support, they will continue to grow and prosper, and we will reap the benefits through their contributions to a stronger Forest Grove community. As your elected officials, we look forward to participating in that process with them and with each of you.
In the meantime, stay well, remain safe, and let's all prosper together as we look ahead to better days.
Pete Truax is mayor of Forest Grove. Malynda Wenzl is president of the Forest Grove City Council.
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