MEDFORD, Ore. — “It seems like law enforcement is being painted with a really broad brush right now for the actions of a few,” said Sheriff Nathan Sickler, Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office.
The death of George Floyd is a call to action for thousands across the country to bring to light police brutality and racial injustice.
And despite agreeing with the public’s anger and unrest, many police officials say it’s a difficult time to be in law enforcement.
“No one in law enforcement supports those actions. In fact, quite the contrary, most agencies came out and said that was just wrong,” said Sheriff Sickler.
Sheriff Sickler says he believes conversations about race are important everywhere. But to dismantle an entire policing system, which some protesters are calling for, is misguided.
“People that are saying those things just really don’t understand what police officers and first responders do on a daily basis to keep their communities safe,” he said. “Often, the incidents that are highlighted are the negative things, but rarely do we go around and look for the positive stories each and every day across law enforcement.”
“That’s a pretty drastic measure because… I would think a reasonable response would be look, why don’t we do an assessment of this law enforcement agency and we may identify training needs and we may identify policies and procedures that need to be revised or reinforced,” said Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou Co. Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Lopey says hiring is already an issue for many agencies across the country because of public scrutiny in recent years.
And he’s fearful with some of the rhetoric right now, it will only get worse.
“I think people don’t realize how difficult it is to recruit the very best candidate and train them and prepare them because you have an application, you have testing processes, you have physical agility test requirements, you have medical requirements, you have a comprehensive background investigation,” he said.
Both hope we can all learn from this tragedy and open up a dialogue that will be beneficial to policing as we move forward.
But attacking all law enforcement, they say, isn’t the answer.
“Can we improve our policies and procedures, can we improve our training, can we improve community outreach… the answer to that is there’s probably some things we can do that will impact that in a positive way, and I think everyone is willing to do that,” said Sheriff Lopey.
Both agencies say they’re always reviewing their policies and procedures and will evaluate if things need to be updated or changed.
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