Washington County Sheriff’s Office employs more than 430 uniformed deputies. These deputies serve the public in our county providing law enforcement in rural and urban unincorporated neighborhoods. They also provide civil service and staff a 572 bed jail to house offenders from the entire county. These deputies are responsible for assisting people with a myriad of problems and keeping our communities safe. The priorities, policies, and practices of the sheriff’s office have a significant impact on the livability, or living conditions, of our communities.
The citizens of Washington County are made up of a rich tapestry of diverse communities. This diversity has been celebrated in recent years with community events to include Washington County Museum’s “This is Kalapuya Land” exhibit, the Beaverton Night Market, Beaverton PRIDE parade, and dozens of community-based events. It should be a natural fact that those who make the decisions and set the priorities for these communities are representative of the people in the communities. However, Washington County government continues to be dominated by white males. I am running as your next sheriff to bring representation of our communities to the table for the decision making and policy development that directly impacts livability in our communities.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has painted a picture of an office that maintains strong relationships with our community partners, honors the diverse community, and is responsive to the needs of our citizens. It is hard to envision this to be anything but accurate. However, I challenge voters to look beyond these mere proclamations to the real facts and the experiences of the people in our communities. Do your police look like the communities they serve? Do we feel confident that priorities and goals of the deputies are OUR shared goals for our community? Does that matter?
Our law enforcement must achieve safety and security in our communities in a way that is consistent with the values and concerns of the people who live there! Yet, the most recent workforce analysis of the deputies in the sheriff’s office (7/1/2017) reveals that our uniformed deputies in patrol, investigations, and leadership are over 89% white and 94% male.
Further, this analysis determined that hiring patterns in the category of protective services in Washington County showed statistically significant hiring of whites rather than Blacks, Hispanics, and mixed race. When data is statistically significant, it means that the outcome is unlikely to be due simply to chance. In other words, there is high confidence that there is a specific factor, or reason, for the outcome outside of normal likelihood.
What does that mean to the people who live in Washington County? It means that the people who set the priorities and policies for our communities only include a very very small number of people who match the people who make up our communities. It means that white males are deciding which issues are important to you and focusing enforcement on those issues. It means community goals and police goals are not likely shared goals. It means we have little control over many livability issues in our communities.
I commit to not only doing targeted recruitment to diversify the sheriff’s office workforce, but I also have a multi-faceted plan for training, promoting, and investing in these diverse deputies to bring our ranks more in line with the communities they serve. I have collected vast data demonstrating current practices of selection and promotion patterns that results in white males gaining immediate and overwhelming advantages in training and opportunities that position them for promotion and appointment to special teams. These practices are deeply entrenched in the culture of the sheriff’s office and must be tackled with specific outcome-based strategies immediately.
In addition to diversifying our currently overwhelmingly white male police force, I commit to engaging citizens in an active collaborative approach to elicit and develop shared goals for the priorities of your communities. This will not only ensure your deputies are striving toward your shared community goals but will save millions of dollars in paying out internal settlements for harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and failure to promote!
|Thank you for reading,|
Red Wortham for Sheriff|
PO Box 1623
Hillsboro, Oregon 97123
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