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'Hold Officers Accountable' 

Editor:

Thank you for your thoughtful articles on law enforcement accountability ('Mission, Values, Vision,' June 3, 'Protecting our Own,' June 10).

The events of the last four years have highlighted and celebrated a national loathing of immigrants, houseless people, women, and several "othered" populations. As long as there are categories of people that are stigmatized, there can be no sustained trust between citizens and law enforcement. For the safety of our officers and for the safety of citizens, we need to find a way to get on the same page: community safety and mutual respect.

Anyone doing the difficult job of enforcing California's laws needs some cover from retribution. Qualified immunity, a strong police union and privacy laws to protect officers and their jobs seems like an obvious way of approaching this. Unfortunately, the citizens and the taxpayers pay dearly for this. The inability to hold Sgt. Jason Daniels to account for sexual harassment has the effect of leaving citizens at risk of being victims of crime. Sex workers and homeless people suspected of being sex workers might need to get away from an abusive pimp. If they recognize that law enforcement also sees them as a sex object, they have no recourse to the law. Similarly, if you are already a suspect because of the color of your skin, you have no recourse when you are attacked by racist neighbors ("What Happened on Howard Street" Aug. 27, 2020). This dynamic does not engender trust in law enforcement. Trust from the community is the best way for officers and citizens to be safe.

Humboldt County needs a Citizen's Law Enforcement Review Board with subpoena power and representation from stigmatized groups to hold officers accountable. When we're accountable, we're responsible. When we're hiding malfeasance in a privileged, private review process, we're encouraging more racist and sexist police practices.

Geoffrey Robinson, Blue Lake

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