PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The eyes of the nation — and much of the world — are on a Minneapolis courtroom as the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd unfolds.
The trial just wrapped its first week of testimony and is expected to last for at least a few weeks more. But civic leaders are already cautioning people who may take to the streets once a verdict is delivered to remain peaceful.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese released an open letter to the community on Friday addressing some of these issues and what his department is doing, both long-term and to prepare for any response once the verdict is revealed.
“I want to acknowledge that the trial may bring renewed pain and trauma for many, especially among Black people and people of color in our community. As I shared with you following Floyd’s death last May, I condemn the actions of Derek Chauvin and the actions of other officers for failing to intervene,” Reese wrote.
The sheriff said they’re aware there may be demonstrations or protests, and they’re supportive of people’s rights to make their views known.
“We strongly support the right to demonstrate and for people to use their individual and collective voices to express grief, joy or outrage,” Reese said. “Regardless of the outcome of the trial, we are calling for any demonstrations to remain peaceful. Violence and property destruction are unacceptable, and they put everyone’s safety at risk.”
Changes inside Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office
The movement sparked by Floyd’s death spurred many changes inside the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, he said, citing the hiring of their “first ever Equity & Inclusion Manager” 9 months ago.
They also released in two-year Strategic Plan in January that lays out 7 goals to achieve by the end of 2022. Among those goals: Connect all in custody to services to help them avoid future run-ins with the law; help all suffering drug or mental health issues to get the help they need; provide deeper training for all employees; improve the integration of technology and become fully staffed.
Reese said they’ve also changed the way they operate on a daily basis, including more training for employees in procedures, de-escalation and bias-free policing.
And, he said, the sheriff’s office is working to bring changes to the broader criminal justice system.
He also welcomed feedback and comments through email: email@example.com
“As Sheriff,” Reese wrote, “I am committed to fighting racism and hate. Let’s work together to build a community that is welcoming and safe for everyone, because Black lives matter in Multnomah County.”