Local police attend black community forum

MEDFORD, Ore.– Police chiefs from Medford, Ashland, Central Point, and the Jackson County Sheriff were all asked Wednesday night to make a commitment to the community. Each chief accepted.

This during a public virtual forum, hosted by a Facebook group called base Southern Oregon Wednesday night.

The group’s aim is to elevate black voices within the community. One of it’s main goals was to get a commitment of cooperation from police with liaisons for the black community in the rogue valley.

A national spotlight was thrown on police relations with people of color this year after George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of police officers.

Wednesday, the local police chiefs pledged to  do their part, but the panel of officers said the outcome isn’t always up to them.

Ashland police chief Tighe O’Meara says the protocols behind policing, are sometimes difficult to teach.

O’Meara said, “I in particular have a lot of young officers and how do I get these young officers to walk the line between being overly eager to stop people.”

He said police everywhere should adopt a new way of looking at the power it holds.

He continued to say, “We should not stop people because we can, we should stop people because we need to.”

Sheriff of Jackson County Nathan Sickler agreed with the notion.

Sickler said, “Sometimes officers don’t see it the same way, they just think they’re out doing their job.”

The forum was later opened up for public comment and questions.

Central Point Police Chief Kristine Allison told the group the area offers little diversity and that her department would welcome more officers of color.

The lengthy zoom call ultimately ended with each agency head extending invitations to the public.

Saying they would be happy to speak privately with anyone who has concerns about police work in the valley.

“My door is always open,” said Sickler.

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