Sheriff address protest questions
Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins addressed some concerns at the Jefferson County Faith-Based Network's meeting Thursday, July 16.
Treasurer Gary Buss opened the discussion by asking members not to talk politics.
"We're going to talk about urban safety concerns today as a rural safety issue," Buss said, adding that local people have been concerned with the protests they've seen in Portland. The conversation also included what to do if outside protesters come to the county.
Adkins started the talk by explaining his background.
He has been with the sheriff's office for 34 years and is serving his 11th year as sheriff.
His father was a state trooper, and the family moved to Jefferson County in 1968.
He went to public school through seventh grade and was then homeschooled.
"My mama said that was a good idea," he said.
"I try to do what God wants me to do, and I think that we're very fortunate in the area that we live — rural Central Oregon," Adkins said.
He then laid out the rules he lives and runs his office by: "treating everybody with dignity and respect and having empathy for everyone's feelings ... don't matter what race, whether it's the Indians, Blacks, the Hispanics, the Asians."
At the same time, he's committed to enforcing the laws to protect the community, he said.
By way of example, he said he didn't vote for Barack Obama as president, but he guaranteed that he would have protected him with his life had he come here. And he doesn't like Gov. Kate Brown, but it is his duty o uphold the law.
"I think that everybody should just obey the rules of the land," he said.
Madras hasn't had any problems with people demonstrating, Adkins said, adding that he has worked closely with Madras Police Chief Tanner Stanfill.
Buss asked how Madras should react if Black Lives Matter protesters came from Portland, as they did to Prineville.
"It doesn't matter which you side you pull for, whether it's Black Lives Matter or not," Adkins said. "They have a right to come into town and to demonstrate."
Adkins said he doesn't believe counterprotesting is wise.
"I think that we as a community should be very happy with what's happening so far," he said.
"When, say, a busload of BLM is coming and we know it, is the best thing we can do is stay away?" Buss asked. "Is that the most prudent?"
"Yes, I think so," Adkins said. "I don't know that we need to be there to counteract. If I were to go demonstrate somewhere, I would hope that they would have the respect to listen to me as well."
Buss later asked if people from outside the community had come to protest.
Adkins said the only person he knew of was a woman who grew up in Madras but now lives in Eugene. She came with some friends.
Buss asked what community leaders could do to work with law enforcement.
"We need your help," Adkins said.
Adkins supports a strong "working relationship between the police and the Christians."
He said churches have a "huge part in the safety and security of our community because God hods us more responsible than the unsaved."
He quoted the scripture 2 Chronicles 7:14, in which God is talking to Solomon, who was king of Israel: "... if my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
"So I think that as a community," Adkins said, "as churches, we should teach our members to humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways, whatever that is ... and he will take care of us. I've lived my life like that, and it really means a lot to me."
Someone asked if there were any nonwhite personnel at the sheriff's office.
"I have several Hispanics that work for me. Some speak Spanish; some don't speak Spanish. We used to have a Native working for us, but they don't work for us anymore. They moved on to better pay," he said with a chuckle. "I know that during the hiring process ... we try to attract those that will represent the community the best.
He said it is hard to hire bilingual staff.
Katherine Brick, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran and St. Mark's Episcopal Church, asked what kind of cultural and racial training the sheriff's office staff get.
Adkins said training happens every year or two "and all my people are required to go through it.
Adkins thanked the community for the support it has received, and he encouraged people to come to him if they know of problems with deputies.
"I just encourage everybody, our power and our safety is from the Lord," Adkins said. "I've just got to keep preaching that."
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