Letter to the editor: It's possible to support police while rooting out racism
I support our Gresham Police Department. I believe they are valiant men and women who dedicate themselves and risk their lives for the well-being and safety of our community.
The Gresham Police department reflects values of human decency, kindness, mercy and, yes, justice. That being said, it's also true that we all need to reflect inwardly in an effort to root out the racism and bigotry that we may not even realize we engender.
Furthermore, we must do all we can to eradicate systemic racism within our federal, state and community institutions because, simply put, it is a cancer within us.
However, our Gresham Police Department stands above many of their counterparts from other jurisdictions in terms of their commitment to fairness and justice. For example, the D.O.J. and the Crime Justice Commission analysed the data relative to the vehicle stops for each department in the state and advised that there was no indication or evidence of racial or ethnic disparity by the Gresham Police Department. Other jurisdictions within the state did not fare so well. This is a completely unbiased and credible report and one that we should all be proud of.
Our officers receive annual training on de-escalation techniques as well as defensive techniques. Additionally, our officers work hard to constantly reach out to our community in town hall meetings, participate in Coffee-With-A-Cop and other meetings within our community to engage the citizens of Gresham. These contacts lead us to have a better understanding of all perspectives.
I stand as an advocate of their work and mission. We need them. Our ratio of officers is woefully inadequate compared to our population base.
I reject the notion of dismantling or defunding any portion of Gresham's Police Department and will block any attempt to do so. However, I full-heartedly support reform where necessary.
Our community's safety and well-being is too important to risk. It is the government's primary responsibility to protect all of its citizens — all else falls below this mandate by the people.
Gresham City Councilor
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