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Jun 05

A Climate for Change

Posted on June 5, 2020 at 9:03 AM by Renie Dugwyler

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, I condemned the murderous actions of Derek Chauvin and inactions of complicit officers and I applauded the swift response of Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo for firing the four officers immediately, and for the subsequent arrest of Chauvin.

George Floyd’s death is a tragedy that should impact every law enforcement agency and officer across the country for the better. While law enforcement is experiencing the effects of a few bad cops tarnishing numerous good ones, our communities are struggling with destructive demonstrations during peaceful protests. Merely condemning police brutality is not enough.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is a well-regarded agency – amongst the best in the nation. This is due to the compassion, professionalism, and accountability of our sworn and professional staff, who routinely make good decisions under sometimes very difficult circumstances. By hiring, training, mentoring and promoting for values like integrity, excellence, and respect, we have earned our community’s trust. But our agency is not perfect and we, like any other organization, can do better.

For the past week, peaceful protestors and frustrated citizens have been pleading for more police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death. They are looking to every law enforcement agency in the country for our recruiting practices, training curriculums, use of force policies, body worn camera programs, internal investigative procedures, and disciplinary processes in an effort to effect change in these areas and ultimately end police brutality. I appreciate these requests to better understand our agency’s practices, policies, and procedures because it helps inform citizens how we strive to instill a culture within the Sheriff’s Office that is free of racial bias and full of thoughtful decisions and actions in our contacts with the public.

And still, we can do better.

This week I have initiated discussions with my command and director staff about how we can improve our agency. What can we do differently in our recruiting, in our training, in our supervising, and in our leading that will make our deputy and professional staff members better to further ensure Jefferson County is a safe place for all people to live, learn, work and play? While we routinely review and revise policies and procedures, a deeper dive to identify any existing gaps or weaknesses would benefit the JCSO. Therefore, in the coming weeks we will be working to prioritize and initiate these reviews utilizing staff from all divisions of the Sheriff’s Office. We will also be soliciting feedback and discussing opportunities for change with our Citizens Advisory Council and with additional people in other forums.

In the meantime, I encourage you to visit our website to read our policies regarding use of force, body worn cameras, and employee conduct if you are interested, and submit any comments or questions to the Sheriff’s Office at [email protected]. Already we have heard and responded to citizen input for stronger language in our use of force policy and even in my letter regarding George Floyd’s death. To these things we are open to introspection, review and change.  One thing that will not change, however, is our commitment to serve people of all races, and all walks of life, with integrity, excellence, and respect.

Jeff Shrader, Sheriff
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

 Jeff Shrader, Sheriff

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

 Jeff Shrader, Sheriff

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office