La Grande Should Establish a City Police Commission
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "A riot is the language of the unheard." As a civil servant, I see Dr. King's wisdom play out regularly, and I have learned to address anger by listening and collaborating to reform systems that my community believes to be unjust. This week, hundreds of our neighbors took to the streets of La Grande to protest in favor of the criminal justice reforms that should have prevented the deaths of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, and thousands of our fellow Americans of color. Oversight of police by an appointed city commission is a practical local solution to facilitating dialogue and reform when the community believes that trust is broken, but only 200 of 18,000 local law enforcement agencies in the US have such a body. As a candidate for Mayor of La Grande, I support establishing a police commission similar to the City of Eugene, inviting residents and law enforcement officers to promote a citizen-driven community policing model to prevent crime. Police advisory commissions should be the norm, not the exception, and the Hub of Northeast Oregon can set the standard for other communities in the region by providing a forum where residents and law enforcement collaborate to prevent crime and promote public safety. The time to fight for a better community is now, and this local victory is within easy reach if we the people join hands and demand action.