Support police but also hold them accountable

Human beings are capable of critical thinking, but often we get stuck in old ways of thinking. Sometimes we present complex circumstances as simple either/or decisions and we lose sight of the range of possible responses. One false belief circulating recently is that we either completely support the police or we are completely against them. But there is a lot of room between these extremes and most of us can see the answer is not so simple.

We can be thankful for police in our community, especially when dangerous situations arise, such as a father and son racing at over 100 mph while intoxicated, or an armed robbery at a local gas station. At the same time, we can be horrified by police brutality when we see the video of Derek Chauvin using extreme force ending in the murder of George Floyd. We can be outraged when federal law enforcement uses tear gas and flash-bang grenades against peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. We value safety and we are also angered by unnecessary violence used against fellow citizens.

We support law enforcement and want our tax dollars to provide them with adequate funding, but we also hold these agencies accountable for regularly reviewing their policies and guaranteeing that staff are trained appropriately and disciplined when necessary. We may also conclude that some of the responsibilities that have fallen on policing agencies are better handled by non-law enforcement personnel specially trained to work with homelessness, addiction and mental health issues. None of these responses mean that we are against police or do not value their role in our community, rather they show that we are taking an active role by speaking out for change and working for solutions.

Many of us were brought up to believe that being a good citizen meant voting in every election. What some of us are discovering is that in today’s world true citizenship demands more commitment and participation. It requires each of us to develop and use our critical thinking skills and compassion to be active, positive forces in our local community and at the national level.

Gretchen Stadler

Baker City

Union County COVID-19 outbreak too close to home

Anyone been to Island City lately? The Lighthouse Pentecostal Church in Union County. At least 236 coronavirus cases have been linked to an outbreak at the church, which is located in Union County’s Island City.

This is too close to home. Are we opening too fast? How many of these attendees have traveled all over eastern Oregon in the past few days?

Folks, I don’t like seeing small businesses struggle and being confined to my home any more than anyone else, but to ensure the safety of my friends, neighbors and family, I will follow the advise of the governor and health officials. Stay safe.

Don Worley

Baker City

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