IF YOU’RE COMPELLED to call for defunding law enforcement in our community/county, I invite you to rethink your position.
What has happened to so many around our country at the hands of brutal law enforcement with profiling, prejudice, and racism is horrible and criminal. You will be hard pressed to find a single police officer/deputy in Clallam County to disagree with you.
If you believe law enforcement is overpaid, brutalizing innocents, then report the individual instead of demoralizing and insulting a collective group. Our law enforcement is held accountable; be a part of that accountability chain.
Violence is not the solution to violence. Ill-informed or thoughtless generalizations do not foster improvement.
As executive director of Healthy Families of Clallam County (HFCC) serving victims/survivors of domestic violence (DV), sexual assault (SA), and child abuse and neglect, I work closely with law enforcement.
This includes Port Angeles, Sequim and Lower Elwha police departments; Clallam County Sheriff’s Office; FBI; Coast Guard; Homeland Security; National Park Service and Border Patrol.
I can say I have had some contacts with less than acceptable officers of the law. I also have met some unsavory characters who are teachers, pastors/priests, constructions workers, fisherman, loggers, business owners, doctors, nurses, judges, lawyers, etc., … men and women.
My contact with law enforcement in Clallam County has been extraordinary over the past 17 years.
There are still a few who have (and are) called to reckoning for less than professional behavior and/or breaking the law. It is not so easy to hide in law enforcement agencies the size we have in Clallam County. It is not easy to go unnoticed among the leaders and colleagues these few have. They are being weeded out or reeducated. It takes time. It’s happening slowly.
What I see is a group of men and women working for agencies, many of whom are understaffed, who make trauma-informed, proactive, and educated responses to the crimes I am most familiar with.
When they don’t, it is addressed by more experienced officers/deputies.
I have participated in multiple cases of rape, child rape/molestation, beatings of children and adults by family members and intimate partners, children abused and neglected by care-givers and family members, survivors of homicide victims, and young boys and girls who have been used as sexual toys by demented adults.
Who do we call for those crimes?
We call on law enforcement.
Who lives eats and breaths those crimes from start to finish? Law enforcement, prosecution and advocates.
I have had some unpleasant experiences with a small handful of law enforcement officers over my 17-plus years of this work and I have witnessed positive change.
Although the wheels of justice move slowly, the list of inadequate officers/deputies, has radically decreased.
The majority are good, compassionate, hard-working, dedicated, fine people — people I am proud to call my collaborators. The tone every law enforcement agency in Clallam County, except one, has declared to my agency (in both formal and informal agreements) is healthy collaboration and compassion to victims.
Every profession has human beings who make mistakes or poor judgment calls. Law enforcement is held to a higher standard, and should be. I’m grateful for the officers, detectives, deputies, supervisors, the chiefs and the sheriff, who continue working to improve responses.
Most law enforcement in our county has demonstrated a commitment to purging the weak, unlawful, and inadequate officers and deputies while strengthening and educating their personnel.
We have not experienced law enforcement in unjustified shootings or irresponsible use of firearms or excessive force.
There is always room for improvement for all of us.
My agency thanks law enforcement for their difficult and dedicated work to keep our community safe, for investigations of these heinous crimes, for the toll the work takes on loved ones, for consideration and kindness shown to victims that no one hears about, sees or knows about.
Becca Korby is executive director of Healthy Families of Clallam County.