By Jerry Moore
I was speaking to a member of the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) recently. This is a group of citizens whose job it is to make a determination as to whether the police have acted appropriately when a citizen files a complaint. Police watchdogs if you will in some cities. We hope that is not the case here.
This CPRB member had been on a ride-along with one of our officers, and he went out of his way to praise the compassion and concern the officer had displayed when helping a person in need. It was clear his perception of our department and officers was a positive one, and I am glad he was able to see that aspect of our work first hand. While I talk about bringing hope to people, what I actually believe happens is we routinely make things better for people in crisis who need our help.
We are your police department. In these trying times, never has it been more important that the connection between public safety and members of our community be one of faith and trust.
Neither of us can succeed in keeping our community safe without the other. The more you are invested in and support what we do, the better we are able to provide you the service you need.
This is a job where you never stop learning, and this last year was more of the same. The simple fact of the matter is this world is changing, and it takes special men and women who have the courage and dedication to rise up and face the challenges we as police officers face.
In the last few months we have witnessed the horrific actions just up the road at the Clackamas Towne Center and further away at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The carnage and devastation brought to those communities is something we hope to never see. But history tells us that may not be the case.
We are lucky that Salem is a safe place to live and our role is to keep it that way. But occasionally certain individuals disrupt that feeling of safety and make life uncomfortable for everyone. That is why we exist.
The officers who were involved in the Benton County incident [where Salem police helped capture a suspect who had shot a Benton County sheriff’s deputy] simply amaze me. It is truly remarkable (how) people put themselves in harm’s way to help someone else.
What makes this even more amazing is the fact that not only did they save the life of a police officer who had been shot, they then turned around and saved the life of the person who had just shot two officers and tried to kill them.
I salute all our officers, regardless of what agency they work for, who protect us night after night to make sure we sleep safely in our homes.
I have the opportunity to interact with many of my officers throughout the day. I have personally seen the emotion they bring to the job. That includes humor, compassion and kindness and sometimes total amazement about the things they see and encounter.
I have also had the opportunity to talk with our officers immediately after they have been involved in a deadly force encounter. I still see the professionalism and stoic demeanor, but I also see the anxiety in their faces after being involved in an incident where their lives have been put in danger. It changes people. And we need to make sure they are cared for.
In a span of 14 months we have been involved in seven deadly force encounters. Each of those incidents involved individuals who had the means to harm our officers and, in many cases, actually shot at them.
Luckily, we are all safe, but the level of jeopardy and danger our officers face should never be ignored. It makes me appreciate even more our training, preparation and application of the skills we practice so diligently. Those are types of skills we highlight for our citizens who participate in our training programs.
Our officers respond throughout this great community to help anyone, anywhere, anytime, and I could not be prouder that they are members of the Salem Police Department.
If you have the chance, whether it’s on the street, in a restaurant or a chance meeting somewhere in town, take the time to stop and talk with the officers. Go on a ride along. Sign up for our citizen’s academy. I guarantee you will not only enjoy yourself, but you will be amazed at what you will learn.
Jerry Moore is Salem’s chief of police. He delivered these remarks at the second annual Breakfast with the Chief in February.