Friday, May 29, 2020

New Station needs New Chief: Take City Survey on Next Leader

New Building, New Chief
The City's starting the public portion of a search for a new Chief of Police.
Ralph Andersen & Associates is beginning the recruitment process for the new Chief of Police for the City of Salem. The City of Salem invites you to take this survey regarding the future of the City of Salem Police Department. The survey will begin an open conversation about what is needed in the next Chief of Police.
Chief Moore has seemed like a nice and responsible fellow. Yesterday he published an open letter about Minneapolis saying "we do not teach any of our officers to control a suspect’s actions by kneeling on their neck." That is a good statement, but the initial frame of "tragic events across the nation" is not wholly adequate to the structural elements in play here. It's not some random tragic event, but is one instance of a deep and enduring pattern across the country. The frame of tragedy operates as something of a euphemism in this case.

Front page of Minneapolis Star-Tribune today
Earlier in February, West Linn and PDX
Still, we might recall recent stories like "Marion County prosecutor's list questions honesty, reliability of more than 40 officers" and questions about training in "Three police recruits resign for roles in other recruit's injury during basic training in Salem." The on-going investigation into the West Linn Police is especially troubling and relevant at this moment.

As we gift the Police a brand new station and fortress, complete with "sally port," do we actually have adequate safeguards for civilian oversight? And what qualities do we want in a new Chief?

More particularly for our interests here, while people sputter about red-light and speed automated enforcement by camera, what they are really doing is praising the differential ways we are policed, with different standards for some, who might have talked themselves out of a ticket with just a warning, or who might not even have been stopped. Camera enforcement is more just because it does not discriminate; but because it inconveniences jaydrivers more equally, it is resented.

Even the Police said "eye-opening" (February 2020)
More generally, we likely have more sworn officers than we actually need for the amount of serious crime we have, and it might be possible to reconfigure the police force so it better corresponds to the actual mix of calls to which they respond. Adjusting the composition of personnel could also reduce cost and impact to our city budget.

We see this particularly with officers responding to homeless people who have bothered someone. Occasionally there is someone truly violent, but more often they are hurting and need help, even if they are jerks about it. This is evidence that it is reasonable to fund a CAHOOTS style program from the police budget, for example.

Policing as social service - Jerry Ratcliffe
Policing and police reform is not a central concern here and there is much more to consider. Especially if you have thought more about it, let the City know what they should look for in the next Chief.

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I am old. I am old enough to know more than one police chief in Salem. And when I say, 'know', I mean actually interact with them in a personal level, not just observe them from afar.

I can like someone as a person and not like them as a leader.

I hope that we can have a much more enlightened person that will actually engage the community in meaningful dialogue next time.

I filled out the survey and added lots of comments. I do wonder if it will matter, but I did it.

I do not appreciate the part where we hire a consulting firm to do the searching, but I do hope that the public engagement for vetting the final candidates is more personal.