It’s hard not to be disturbed by much of what we’ve seen in the news the past few months. What makes it worse is that some of the worst images of riots and civil unrest from across the entire country are coming from nearby downtown Portland.
My professional background gives me a particular perspective on issues relating to criminal justice. That is the perspective that I intend to bring to the table as your next Washington County Commissioner.
I’ve spent the last decade working as an administrator at a juvenile facility in Yamhill County. In that role, I have many different responsibilities to ensure that our system functions in a balanced, fair and unbiased for everyone involved.
Protecting peoples’ rights is perhaps the most important aspect of my position. If a violent incident occurs at the facility, I am charged with investigating it.
Sometimes those allegations are false. When that happens, I have to ensure that the employee being wrongly accused are protected.
However, when abuse allegations have merit, I must hold the employee accountable for it and I have on several occasions.
Another one of my professional duties is conducting ethics training for juvenile justice workers and officials all over Oregon. This kind of training is critical to the long-term operations of all of these facilities and the state’s system. I take it very seriously.
One of the things I emphasize in these trainings is that the ethical and moral expectation for officials in the criminal justice system, and all public employees for that matter, are higher than the general public. Rightly so. Any abuses committed by these public servants undermines faith in the entire system and everyone in it. Abuses ultimately end up adversely affecting even the victims of crime in the end.
Officials who are unwilling or unable to rise to that higher expectation should not serve the public trust. High profile instances of police officers using excessive force betray the ethics and moral compass required of our public servants. It is also a huge disservice to the honest public servants who strive to make our systems work as well as they should.
I’ve worked and trained with police officers for most of my career. I am a strong supporter of our LE community. That being said, I insist that our law enforcement officials be professional and responsive to community needs.
Any talk of defunding law enforcement is a direct threat to the livability of decent, hard-working citizens. Here in Washington County, we have a 3.2 percent crime rate which is the second lowest in the entire state and number one of the top 10 most populous counties! This is remarkable when you consider our large population.
We need to continue to have high expectations for our elected and appointed officials throughout our system, especially when it comes to matters of safety, security, law and order. This must be done with the recognition that our system is not perfect and can always stand to be improved.
I hold myself to the highest standard possible in the course of my daily duties and feel good about the work I’ve been able to do. That standard will be my guiding force when I serve as your Washington County Commissioner.