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Statement by the Bend City Council – June 3, 2020

Post Date:06/03/2020 7:40 PM

Statement by the Bend City Council – June 3, 2020 

 

As elected leaders of the City of Bend, we are heartbroken and angry by the senseless killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota.  We are dismayed that the pattern of racist actions, and the killing of black Americans and people of color by people sworn to protect and serve, persists.  

While we may feel hopeful as we see our community come together to stand up for racial justice, there is also a collective sense of anger that it has to take these horrific events for real change to occur. Why are we so disconnected as a society, not hearing or seeing each other? Why do we have to be so divisive in staking out our positions vs. doing the hard work to find common ground and a path forward?

We are committed to a process of deep self-reflection and active listening so we can make the necessary changes and take the necessary actions to truly make Bend an inclusive and welcoming city for all. We condemn white supremacy and acknowledge that racism and oppression are systemic and that we all have a responsibility to be engaged and informed on these issues.

Communities of color should feel safe and know their lives matter.  But it is more than that – they should feel and be included, empowered and embraced.

As we watch and react to national news, it is also important to collectively embrace the efforts and structure being put in place in our city of Bend. We recognize we have much to learn as an organization (and as individuals), and this past week has certainly reminded us all of the significant amount of work needed to bring our community together and create change, starting at the local level.  We are committed to this organizational and individual learning and change.

The City has taken the following steps to date:

  • City Council identified for the first time Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as a formal Council goal/City priority
  • City staff and Council members have been part of an extensive DEI training program, which includes training provided to all City Departments
  • Bend Police Department has implemented many programs and initiatives around DEI and the de-escalation of force
  • started a DEI group in October 2019
  • held regular, mandatory training on bias-based policing
  • have been working with groups outside the department who specialize in community relations, especially with communities of color
  • have increased de-escalation training and reduced use of force by almost 30% over the past year

Looking ahead, as we embark upon the critical process of selecting a new Chief of Police, we are committed to putting the values of diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement front and center in our process, and to maintain the strong caring culture that now exists.  Our decisions will include a community panel comprised of organizations like the Latino Community Association, the Homeless Leadership Coalition, and other organizations that represent communities of color and other often underrepresented groups.  In addition to the traditional interview panel, we will also be conducting a virtual ‘town hall’ with participation from other community members, with a focus on reaching out to underrepresented communities. 

As we watch what is happening in larger cities all across the United States, we recognize cumulative actions have happened over time, which have brought us all to this moment in our Nation. Thankfully, we can still hold respectful protests and dialog in Bend; we believe this is true because of the work our community, Council and leaders have continued to promote and support.  We also recognize we can all do better.  Although we have taken steps in the right direction, they are just the beginning of a long journey we need to make together, as a community.  Our hope is that Bend can be a model to create and promote an effective, inclusive and responsive change and shift the ways we work together and change the foundation of our community and society. 

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