McAlpine: An open letter to the Tigard community
It's difficult to find the words for what our community has experienced in the last weeks. Many people have questions and are hurting deeply. It comes after our officers responded to a domestic disturbance on Jan. 6, where they developed probable cause to arrest Jacob Macduff. While attempting to arrest him for domestic violence, officers discovered he was armed with a knife. During the struggle to arrest him, one of our officers shot and killed Mr. Macduff.
I want to begin by saying any loss of life is tragic.
This has had a tremendous impact on all of us. The Tigard Police Department was founded in 1963, and to the best of our knowledge in the 57 years since, this is the first deadly officer-involved shooting we've ever had. We sincerely hope it is our last.
But as a person who has spent the last 35 years in law enforcement, I also know the inherent dangers that come with being a police officer. Every day, the men and women who serve this community accept that risk when they put on the uniform. In 2020 alone, we responded to more than 35,000 calls for service. Those encounters often involve a dangerous situation that we work to peacefully resolve. We take our role as the guardians of the community with the highest level of seriousness. We know the expectations for our profession are high, and we understand why.
So, what happened on Jan. 6?
Like all of you, I am waiting for those answers.
In Oregon, the law requires an external body to investigate when police use deadly force. As such, the Washington County Major Crimes Team is leading this investigation. This is a group of seasoned investigators, who are all trained to investigate the most serious and complex types of criminal matters.
Although we have members on the team, they are specifically excluded from this investigation because of our direct involvement in it. This is standard practice, as is the fact that the investigators will not consult with or receive any permission from our department as they conduct their thorough review of the facts. Their task is to follow the facts, wherever they may lead, and record them accurately.
Our role is to make sure members of the team have open access to whatever they need for their investigation. I assure you, that has already happened and will continue to be the case. You deserve it, and we all understand why.
After reviewing the totality of evidence, including witness statements, officer statements and any other relevant piece of information, it is the Washington County district attorney's decision alone as to what next steps will occur. Ultimately, it is the district attorney who will determine whether this shooting was legally justified. At the earliest, this process will take several weeks, and we support the investigative process.
While we all wait for more information, the Public Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) recently held its second meeting to review some Tigard Police policies and practices. The group was formed late last year and will make recommendations to City Council for any changes that should be considered.
You can watch past meetings and find the schedule for future meetings (which will also include public comment) on the city of Tigard's website. To read more about this shooting, visit our homepage for additional links.
I ask for your patience while this thorough investigation is conducted.
In the the meantime, you can grieve for the loss of a community member and support police officers while this investigation takes its course.
It's what I will choose to do.
Kathy McAlpine is chief of the Tigard Police Department.
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