The proclamation that Baker City Mayor Loran Joseph read during the City Council’s Tuesday meeting, and that he and the six other councilors approved, was a well-crafted and welcome statement supporting the Baker City Police Department and the Baker County Sheriff’s Office. And as the proclamation cited “local law enforcement” we ought to, as a community, also include the Oregon State Police and law enforcement for the Forest Service and BLM.
The proclamation is no whitewash, no justification for police brutality.
“We are deeply concerned by the actions taken by some police officers and the corresponding violent protests and attacks on police officers,” the proclamation reads.
That’s a reasonable statement. It recognizes that police misconduct is not acceptable. And neither are “violent protests” — as distinguished from the peaceful protests that have happened in Baker City and in many other cities.
Most of the credit for the absence of violence and conflict goes to the people who participated, of course. They have proved that the American ideal of free expression — that we can disagree vehemently with one another without resorting to violence — is not a trite platitude.
But local police officials, including Baker City Police Chief Ray Duman and Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash, have contributed by endorsing these events so long as they remain peaceful. Police needn’t be involved when people are expressing their constitutional rights.
The City Council’s proclamation acknowledges that local police agencies have an obligation to regularly review their policies, particularly on the use of force, to see if they can be improved. And councilors pledge to help with that process through the city manager, which oversees the police department.
— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor