During this time of tension and high emotions, our country is divided. It is unfortunate that you are playing into this division with your attempt to create a wedge within our community. I am disappointed at your continued use of divisive rhetoric and disconnect with the community you were elected to protect and serve. Concerned residents attended Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to voice their disapproval, confusion and even fear of your recent statements. These residents took hours out of there day to be there, instead of listening and trying to sympathize with them, you quickly dismissed them as not important enough. Undersheriff Tom Sigley read a statement on your behalf in response to public comments provided by residents and community leaders, “The sheriff is actually meeting right now with Hispanic leadership today in his office, and there’s a reason that he’s meeting with them: They are the real leaders of their community, representing the Hispanic community — not the ones in here, spreading false, racist comments,” Sigley said. This statement immediately struck discontent and confusion, and it demonstrates your attempt to minimize this issue.
It pains me that you do not understand that this is not only a “Latino issue”. Our call for oversight of the Sheriff’s Department should not be taken as a personal attack against you and I respectfully ask that you do not engage or allow your staff to engage in attacks against community leaders who wish to share their concerns. Communities across the Country use oversight boards to provide public review, monitoring and supervision of the Sheriff Department’s policies, operations and budget decisions. Such boards can provide an opportunity for open dialogue and should be seen as a way to build trust amongst the community you serve. It seems to me the Counties top law enforcement official would support a transparent system of checks and balances.
The individuals who provided public comment at Tuesdays Board of Supervisors meeting did not identify themselves as Latino and no one there said they were representing the Latino community. Our call for oversight is made up of leaders and concerned residents who are in tune with the communities they serve. We are school board members who care about keeping our students and our schools safe, we are city council members and mayors who want to protect our families and our businesses and we are community leaders who want to ensure that our neighbors are safe. Public safety affects all residents equally. We are all leaders in our own right and yes, many of us happen to be Latino.
Police oversight and reinventing policing in America is a top concern for people of all walks of life, not only Latinos. Young people, old people, white and black people are actively engaging in this issue and they are paying close attention to their local law enforcement agencies. As the Sheriff, you should embrace the idea of developing a board that can help your department to be transparent, provide you with the community’s perspective and offer suggestions for improvement and maybe this board can prevent you from sending out another ill worded tweet the next time you feel the urge to do so.
Our residents deserve to have accountability and oversight measures in place. Together with the community, we will begin to develop the framework for the Tulare County Sheriffs Oversight Board. We invite you and the Board of Supervisors to join us in this effort as we actively seek input from residents across Tulare County.
Resident of Earlimart CA