The competition for sheriff has made me think back to the basics. Why do we have law enforcement? What do we want from our local law enforcement officers and agencies?
1) Protect – The peace, our personal and home safety, the commons. To keep our communities safe for all to enjoy.
2) Respect – Applied to every person, nondiscriminately. Kind, just and equitable treatment for all, especially minority groups and our most vulnerable populations such as youth, women, seniors, LBGT, those with mental issues, immigrants.
3) Educate – Teach residents about the laws; how to de-escalate conflicts; how to help law enforcement with special projects; how to advocate for peace in our communities.
4) De-escalate conflict – Choose the path and actions, in all situations, that lead most swiftly to safe and peaceful resolution of conflicts.
5) Provide dependable service – Follow through with evidence collection, processing and documentation. Improve policies and procedures whenever possible; ID areas that need improvement and make a plan to achieve it.
6) Advocate – Actively partner with our many local non-profit groups dedicated to peaceful, safe, just and healthy living.
7) Accessible – Be visible! Prioritize deputies who interact with our communities and get to know residents personally at community events. Make the agency visible, open and friendly. Periodically invite the public to meet, greet and interact with staff (chief or sheriff, deputies and other staff).
8) Support respectful and proactive law enforcement behavior. Give staff pay raises and honors for attending educational workshops in desired areas, such as de-escalation of conflict, communication, domestic violence, mental health, social and racial justice, cultural competency.
I hope whoever is most dedicated to meeting community goals like these will be our next sheriff.