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The newspapers submitted five questions to the candidates; here are their responses.

What more can the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office do to reduce gun violence?

Nicholas Alberts — Reducing violence in our community starts well before these heinous acts take place. I will lift the booking restrictions that our County has in place that prohibit many arrestable offenses from coming into our facilities. There is no reason that our law enforcement officers should have to second guess whether a crimes "worthy" of arrest and start remembering to put our crime victims first. Since the pandemic, our jail capacity has sat between 60 and 70 percent, while we are seeing record breaking years of homicides. This is not a coincidence; this is a direct correlation. As we allow brazen individuals to prey on our citizens seemingly without consequence, these individuals become more and more emboldened and continue to elevate their level of criminal behavior. When looking at many of the murders and violent crimes that come into our county jails, these are repeat offenders, and many are preventable. Allowing habitual offenders to be released right back onto the streets, or not booked at all for their crimes, is an absolute failure to protect those we swore to serve. We will constantly keep our public aware of the types of crimes coming into our facility and being released, to paint the true picture for our citizens of the dire situation we are in. We must hold those who commit all types of crime accountable.

Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell — At an early age, my family was impacted by gun violence and it showed me how quickly our sense of safety can be ripped away in a matter of seconds. Reducing gun violence in our communities is a top priority and requires multiple approaches that I am committed to, have invested in, and will build upon as Sheriff. My plan to reduce gun violence includes the following:

• Seize illegal guns. Removing guns from dangerous hands is critical, and under my leadership MCSO had the largest seizure of illegal firearms in the history of the organization.

• Enforce court ordered dispossession. In my current role as Undersheriff and previous role as the Law Enforcement Chief Deputy, I have increased investigative resources and have advocated for an additional investigator in the upcoming budget to swiftly hold accountable those who are engaged in violence in our communities. I have also recently added additional deputies to remove firearms from people who are prohibited from possessing them per a court order, such as in domestic violence situations.

• Invest in and collaborate with community-driven intervention and prevention. This includes proactive prevention strategies, robust investigative response, and collaboration with public safety partners, community based programs, and community leaders. Partnering with community based violence intervention services, such as the Office of Violence Prevention and Healing Hurt People is important in providing street outreach services to prevent further violence and uplift and heal our communities that have been impacted by gun violence. Investing in community listening and engagement sessions to build community trust and understand the impacts to each neighborhood is also critical inbuilding community based solutions to a very complex problem.

• Data collection and information sharing. As Sheriff, I will ensure data collection and information sharing as gun violence has no borders, collaborate more closely with our public safety partners and community based resources, including violence prevention programs, and ensure resources are deployed to the most need. I have earned the support of all of the current Sheriffs in the Tri-County area and beyond, as well as community leaders and members, which shows that I work collaboratively across all partners and communities and am a bridge builder between community and law enforcement.

Derrick Peterson — I would partner with Portland Police Focused Intervention Team (FIT) in re-establishing relationships and resources in the community through the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and Homeless Outreach and Program Engagement Team (HOPE). Seek funding to expand the capacity of these units. Establish stronger community relationships with individuals and organizations performing effective work around these issues. Identify gaps in services. Advocate for streamlining resources and redirecting redundancy in an effort to forge alliances to increase the effectiveness of organizations and individuals doing good work. I would advocate to identify ineffective programs and reallocate funding accordingly. One of the main alliances I would like to explore is to connect former gang members with professional organizations with a proven record of providing services to communities of color. I believe former gang members can provide a perspective to enhance community outreach programs that would be far more impactful rather than working separately.

Community groups play a critical role in reducing gun violence. They have a true pulse of citizen's wants and needs in the communities they serve. It is vitally important to establish clear lines of communication supported by relationships fostered through trust. It is through these cultivated relationships; individuals are compelled to report issues, provide vital information and potentially prevent future crimes or violence. Community groups can act as a buffer or conduit between citizens and police to encourage healthy relationships that can help lead to positive change in the county.

How will you work to bring in more applicants and higher quality candidates and more diverse candidates to serve as sworn officers? How would you incentivize current deputies to stay?

Nicholas Alberts — Working with our frontline staff daily, I have gotten to see the challenges that our staff face, and I think that failing to retain staff has a lot to do with staff feeling helpless, and that they are not supported by management. This is a community being ravaged by crime with little consequences, citizens are frequently becoming victims and staff has their hands tied from our leadership. This has created a bad culture within the ranks and has staff looking for a way out. This also affects our potential new recruits who are looking into a public safety career field. These recruits have many agencies across Oregon to choose from, and once they hear about our staff's experience within this office, they do not give our agency another look. This issue even goes as far as staff explaining to those they know who are looking into law enforcement work, to apply elsewhere for their well-being. If we wanton improve our hiring and retention of our staff, we must change the culture within our department. Our leadership must protect and defend our staff who are risking their lives for this community, and our staff must be able to do their jobs and hold those who commit crime accountable.

Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell — Recruiting, hiring, and retention is one of my top priorities to ensure the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is well staffed, well trained, and has a workforce that is reflective of our community. Investing in recruiting strategies including robust media campaigns, connections to colleges and universities, providing college to county internships, and working with groups, such as Word Is Bond to build relationships and trust with our next generation of leaders are all strategies that I will employ to increase a diverse pool of applicants into the hiring process. Community engagement and recruiting events local and beyond are also key to educating potential candidates about the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, highlighting who we are, what we do, and focusing on our innovative programs and alternative service models.

With respect to retention efforts, career development opportunities, alternative work schedules where possible, and adequately compensating our workforce based on the work they are doing each and every day, and ensuring MCSO is in alignment with the pay and benefits of comparative agencies is important in incentivizing members to remain with our organization. I also believe that support systems that are available to all members of the organization are critically important in creating a more positive work environment. I am currently leading an initiative to invest resources in wellness, including peer support services, a mentorship program, and more streamlined access to counseling and employee assistance programs. These improved services are available to all members of the MCSO and provide much needed support for our members and their families throughout a long and healthy career.

Derrick Peterson — My plan to bring more applicants and higher quality candidates to the Sheriff's Office would include the following:

• Hire a professional recruiter

• Branding:

• Hire a branding specialist to help promote the agency nationally and its recruiting efforts

• I would meet with National Policing agencies/organizations, as well as Sheriff and Police Leadership across the county in an effort to do national branding in order to bring a favorable light to all LE agencies in the country, plus help bring more candidates interested in the field of Law Enforcement

• There will be a focus on meeting with local Affinity groups starting with Multnomah County, then branching out to local and national affinity groups. This would include, but not be limited to formulating and disseminating a pro Law Enforcement message that would appeal to the communities they represent. This would hopefully bring more applicants to MCSO

• For diversity purposes, I would regularly recruit from Black Colleges as well as colleges with a high percentage of minorities, especially those who have criminal justice programs

• I will look at recruiting opportunities from police cadet schools from around the country

• We need to be mentored by the front office of successful college sports teams who understand how to recruit.

• I will look for opportunities to recruit from colleges in Oregon with criminal justice programs

• I will look to meet with college coaches from all sports in an effort to recruit athletes

• I will make a hard push to recruit from the military, which means establishing deep relationships with each military organization, so we are on a first name basis

• I will have discussions with the Deputy Sheriff's Association regarding the 4-year degree requirement for LE to potentially find compromises in and an effort to bring more personnel to apply

• Shortening & streamlining the hiring process

• Calling applicants and following up with them

• Doing some "hand holding" and encouragement

• Work to create a reasonable Facility Security Officer/Corrections/LE pipeline that would be specific to those who are looking to work in Corrections of Law Enforcement, but need experience and to further develop their skill sets

• Develop relationship with high schools in an effort to increase law enforcement viability to encourage future, potential employment

• Re-evaluate hiring processes with HR and possibly streamline the process

• Reviewing staffing levels of HR, specifically for additional staff involved in the hiring process

• Hiring bonuses and other perks to attract candidates/applicants

• Potentially offer college/higher education incentives as part of a benefit package for new hires

• Possibly pay for moving expenses for non-local applicants joining MCSO

• Look to subsidize a portion of employee's daycare expenses as an added benefit

• Work with the academy to allow recruits to attend class room/academic course work on-line or at local community colleges through a cooperative. This would meet the need of recruits that would have difficulty attending the academy for 16 weeks due to family or other personal issues

• Find better way to engage our youth for they are our future leaders and possible Law Enforcement Officers, which includes Corrections and non-sworn jobs in the Sheriff's Office.

• There needs to be a solid plan on show casing what corrections is and does because it is over shadowed by police.

• Posting adds on social media, websites, and bill boards

• Reach out to churches

• Join and participate in job fairs

• Put on job fairs at high schools, colleges, and churches

• Develop a police program similar to trades programs

• As Sheriff, I would get personally involved by calling and visiting "A" list recruits and their families.

To incentivize deputies to stay, I would reestablish an initiative I created called "Walk Arounds" that involved chaplains and peer support members checking-in with staff and providing a listening ear, encouraging counseling when needed, and connecting them to services when needed. I would look to also implement some of these ideas:

• Form support groups/Infinity groups, provide incentives to include, money for years of service

• Provide bonuses to new recruits

• Extend extra paid days off

• Increase the percentage of OT pay by the hour

• Hire life and health coaches to formulate individual health plans/programs with at least bi-weekly check-in's

• Encourage intramural sports teams

• Encourage on duty on-site exercise opportunities including meditation

• Create more Sheriff's Office community engagement opportunities for staff to participate in.

I am committed to better messaging and doing more than meeting with staff in an office. I would implement "Coffee with the Sheriff" where I would randomly choose a staff member to meet with over coffee on a weekly basis.

I would set an expectation for management to be intentional and consistent when visiting staff; not just when there is a project to check on. I would lead by example in this practice.

Describe the efforts you and the Sheriff's Office would take to ensure improved community relations and equal justice for the BIPOC and LGBTQ members of the public.

Nicholas Alberts — I will ensure safety and protections of all individuals in my County regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. I believe the best thing that our sheriff's office can do, is less words, and more proving in our actions that there will be no favoritism or discrimination against any citizens of our community.

Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell — Building community trust and reimagining public safety require more than just listening to our community. We need to understand how law enforcement is impacting our community and acknowledge the very real fear that too many of our BIPOC and LGBTQ community members have around law enforcement. Feeling safe in our community is one of our most basic needs as people, and we need to validate experiences, acknowledge where we have gone wrong, and work with our community to initiate change.

Community engagement and partnership goes to the heart of how I, as Sheriff, would lead the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. Throughout my law enforcement career, the time I have spent attending community events both in and out of uniform, participating in town halls and community listening sessions, and reengaging our agency with organizations, such as Basic Rights Oregon or Word Is Bond will be critical for growing my understanding and building relationships with the community I serve. I have included some of the areas internally and externally that support this effort.

• At the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, we fully investigate and report data on bias crimes. A critical part of that process is building trust in our community to ensure community members feel safe reporting crimes to law enforcement and that we, law enforcement/public safety professionals, respond in a trauma informed way and connect victims to advocacy services to best meet their needs.

• While developing new policies or reviewing current policies, it is important to engage stakeholders to assist in informing policies that will direct the work we do each and everyday. MCSO has developed a public facing policy review process to promote transparency and encourage input from individual community members and multiple stakeholder groups to inform policies and/or policy updates.

• Providing a safe environment for all adults in custody is paramount. Ensuring that justice involved individuals are provided safe housing and equitable access to medical care and programs and services that best meet each individual's unique needs to assist in a successful transition into the community is a high priority for me as Sheriff.

• Enhanced diversity, equity, and inclusion training is also a priority. I support learning opportunities that involve community members and leaders sharing experiences with law enforcement, so we can better understand situations and respond in a more trauma informed way.

Derrick Peterson — As a person of color who has experienced many of the issues around equity and inclusion the BIPOC and LGBTQ community experiences, especially given my parents were born and raised in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1918. Although many issues the black community has endured parallels with the LGBTQ community, it's separate and distinct from the issues the LGBTQ community face and must be recognized as such. While I can empathize and sympathize with the issues around LGBTQ, the fact is that even members of the black community are guilty of discrimination and marginalization of people of color and others that identify as LGBTQ. Disparities must be a continued focal point in an effort to root out prejudice and inequity in all minority communities to include, but not limited to social, economic, racial groups, and the LGBTQ community.

Over 30 years ago, I was compelled to address diversity issues by becoming a DEI instructor at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. In fact, I had the opportunity to be a part of the committee that developed the curriculum for the class. While the class naturally covers BIPOC issues, I am intentional to include a portion of the class focuses on LGBTQ issues as I have sought to impact and challenge new recruits around equity and inclusion. I was also honored to have a unique opportunity to be a part of managing/helping my Administrative Sergeant at the time, transition from female to male. This gave me the opportunity to help develop transgender policy for the agency and allowed me to develop an insightful perspective around LGBTQ issues.

It is this experience along with many others I will bring with me to ensure improved community relations and equal justice for the BIPOC and LGBTQ members of the public. It will be important to be proactive in engaging these communities and including them in conversations about policing and how it applies to them. I will conduct listening sessions and invite these communities to weigh in on the services provided by the Sheriff's Office and voice where and how we can improve. In an effort to diversify the agency, I will develop relationships in these particular communities to encourage people to apply to positions in the Sheriff's Office.

How would you characterize the culture within the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office? How could it be improved?

Nicholas Alberts — I would say it is a culture of low morale. This is a staff who puts their own well-being aside for protection of the County and its citizens and seems to be portrayed in an unflattering light. The disconnect between management and frontline staff has never been bigger, with staff feeling unsupported and that their hands are tied. It is very disheartening and a burden on staff's shoulders to see our county fall into a state of chaos and feeling as though there is nothing they can do. We can improve our culture within this office once we begin to feel pride of the work and safety we are providing for our beautiful County, and our leadership takes the welfare of its staff seriously.

Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell — The culture of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office can be characterized as in transition. There is a great deal of work to do to build community trust, reinvest in all members of our organization, recruit a workforce that is reflective of our community, and embed principles of equity and inclusion throughout all of the work of the Sheriff's Office.

Being the first female Sheriff of Multnomah County will be one step toward a culture shift. Less than 3% of Sheriff's nationwide are women, and having worked in law enforcement for over 25years, I am dedicated to being a role model for others who do not see themselves reflected in-law enforcement, both in our organization and in our community.

As Sheriff, I will invest in professional growth opportunities that meet the unique needs of each of our members, build upon my current investments in employee supports and mentorship programs, and provide enhanced training including community groups and focusing on areas, such as effective communication, trauma informed response, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. These competencies are valuable when engaging with our community, but also equally important within the organization. When members are feeling more positive about the work they do each and every day, this inevitably will reflect positively with the work we do in our community. As Sheriff, I will also encourage our members to embrace change and encourage and empower them to be a part of positive change within our organization. I will ensure members have avenues to voice their input and provide opportunities to engage in conversations about creating a more positive work environment and developing innovative solutions to address today's public safety challenges.

Derrick Peterson — Currently, the Sheriff's Office has a trust issue between staff and management. One of the results of the lack of trust is an overall sense of apathy. For the first time since I have worked with the Sheriff's Office, Law Enforcement could not get any Sergeants to apply for promotion to Lieutenant. This indicates fundamental and structural problems exist within the agency, which need to be addressed.

It will be important to usher in a culture of trust by giving clear expectations as well as leading by example. I will be actively seeking ways to interact and engage with staff on a regular basis and this will be expected of the command staff as well. Relationship building must be a priority, not only in the community and with justice partners, but with employees as well.

In addition, there is an issue with equity, not just from a stand point of hiring a diverse work force, but also with inviting a diverse group to the decision and policy making table. All too often, decisions are made without bringing equity and various perspectives into the room in order to make well-informed decisions, policies and procedures. My plan is to be more inclusive rather than exclusive on all levels. It is important to bring as diverse a group as possible together for the decision-making process, including unsworn staff, not just sworn staff. This would include staff from different ranks and job classifications, which is reminiscent of what the community is asking for.

During this administration, morale is arguably the lowest it has been in my 35-year career at the Sheriff's Office. While we have some of the best staff in the profession that work hard for the community; they still feel overworked, underappreciated, and unheard. As Sheriff, I would re-establish an initiative I created called "Walk Arounds" that involved chaplains and peer support checking-in with staff. I would also begin to implement the incentives mentioned in the answer for question 2 above in order to address the morale issue and increase the outlook of staff where they feel validated, supported, listened to and an important part of the Sheriff's Office team.

Describe your thoughts on the discussion of shifting armed-deputy resources toward unarmed responders who are trained in de-escalation and mental health evaluation? What additional efforts are needed, if any, to address de-escalation training within MCSO ranks?

Nicholas Alberts — There is a common misconception that current law enforcement officers are not trained in identifying individuals in mental health crisis and de-escalation. Law enforcement does get training in this field, however what we will do is offer more to leave them better equipped for when these types of situations inevitably arise. I think that the idea of pulling resources from an already short staffed number of armed deputies is a dangerous one. If the idea was to partner those trained in areas of de-escalation and mental health, that could be a different discussion. As we see crime rising across our county, and a sense of anarchy looming on our streets, it is not the time to pull from the number of public safety officers who are ready to protect our citizens from potential violence. It is true that more training in de-escalation for our staff could be valuable and decrease the need for specialized mental health workers. Training a full sheriff's office staff can be costly and time consuming, so I will fight to maintain adequate funding for our office to provide these trainings and still have a staff available and ready on the street to keep their citizens safe.

Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell — In my most recent two roles at the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), Law Enforcement Chief Deputy and Undersheriff, I have worked collaboratively with TriMet to develop alternative safety presence models. These include an unarmed response team made-up of people with lived experience who are trained in de-escalation and trauma informed response, and we are in the early stages of partnering with public health and TriMet to develop crisis response model to address behavioral health concerns on the public transportation system with a more holistic approach.

I support programs like Portland Street Response, and I am interested in learning more about the recent expansion. I will continue to evaluate these types of models to determine where there are opportunities to bring them to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

Recently, MCSO received grant funding to begin building an initiative to add a clinician to our Homeless Outreach and Programs Engagement (HOPE) Team. Our HOPE Team provides regular outreach and connection to housing, mental health, and addiction services, and I am interested in increasing the footprint of this program with the necessary community based services moving forward.

With respect to training, I have advocated for enhanced crisis intervention, trauma informed response, de-escalation, and diversity, equity and inclusion training in the upcoming budget because I believe it is critical that we are providing our members the tools and training required to respond in a trauma informed way and in alignment with community expectations.

Derrick Peterson — I believe the expectations placed on police officers has changed drastically over the years and is unsustainable. The Law Enforcement profession, in many ways, is called to be everything to everybody to include, not only being experts in law enforcement, which is complex itself, but to be experts in mental health, houselessness and many times family counselors when responding to domestic violence calls. I am in favor of dispatching unarmed responders who are thoroughly trained in de-escalation and mental health evaluation to respond to calls that have a higher propensity to escalate when an officer with a gun responds.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office will need to challenge itself on delivering and training its staff in the best de-escalation techniques from the very beginning of the interaction all the way to the end. We will need to constantly look for ways to improve, while delivering a consistent product year after year. The de-escalation training must be effective, universal, proven, and be approved by the community. I am advocating for a uniformed training approach that is implemented across the United States. This will eliminate confusion of what is expected from one agency to another and is designed to let all communities understand and feel comfortable with the training. Out of the organizations providing this type of training, I am a proponent of Con10gency Consulting LLC who provides a comprehensive de-escalation training program titled the "CALM approach".


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