To the Editor:
As the nation reels from the tragic death of George Floyd and calls for police accountability and reforms become our rallying cry, it seems the community would be strengthened and reassured to hear the Sheriff’s Office’s voice. Coming from a 20-year background in education, I particularly think the under-30 voter demographic is interested in Jackson County Sheriff Chip Hall’s perspective.
For so many, the strongest stories that have emerged since Ahmaud Arbery’s death involve the space for law enforcement to be allies with the people calling for reform. Jackson County has incredible potential for being a model network of how to form an alliance between community and law enforcement.
As with so many aspects of southern life, the relationship between communities and law enforcement is complex. For so many southern rural communities, law enforcement represents family, caretakers, protectors and the most lauded of civil servants. As a veteran teacher, I know this relationship well and value the care and nurturing the men and women in uniform have given to the students of this community. Educators and law enforcement share a unique commitment to protecting a community’s children and youth.
For many communities in this country, it is becoming evident law enforcement is not synonymous with care and service. The South, particularly law enforcement in the rural South, has a long history of violence and the cover-up of violence against black people and other people of color. In this moment, I would like to see my small southern community take a stand and proclaim that diversity is honored, people of color are treated equally and our law enforcement officers are trained and uphold their duty to protect and serve all equally. This moment in time calls for more than just the presumption that we are honoring diversity.