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Douglas County Sheriff clarifies letter in response to library diversity statement

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 3:31 PM PDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 5:28 PM PDT
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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Nev. (KOLO) - Douglas County Sheriff Daniel Coverley on Tuesday clarified recent statements in which he threatened his office would not respond to any 911 calls made by the Douglas County Public Library after the library posted a proposed diversity statement which included the phrase “We support Black Lives Matter.”

In a letter to the library board of trustees dated Monday, July 27, 2020, the sheriff said in part:

“Due to your support of Black Lives Matter and the obvious lack of support or trust with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, please do not feel the need to call 911 for help. I wish you good luck with disturbances and lewd behavior, since those are just some of the recent calls my office has assisted you with in the past.”

On Tuesday though, the sheriff clarified his statement saying the sheriff’s office would continue to respond to all 911 calls, including those at the library.

“My response to the Library’s proposed agenda item was to provide public comment about their proposed diversity statement and to further provide open commentary about how this could affect our local law enforcement profession,” the sheriff said in a statement.

Douglas County Library Director Amy Dodson tells KOLO 8 News Now, the disagreement with Sheriff Coverley centered on a draft diversity statement that was supposed to have been discussed at the July 28th meeting of the Library Board of Directors. “I think there’s misinformation out there saying the Library Board was going to support Black Lives Matter, and that’s not true at all, and they certainly do not support the defund the police movement.”

The meeting was subsequently canceled, so the issue has not been discussed by the Library Board.

Dodson says she has spoken with Sheriff Coverley saying she has a great relationship with the Sheriff’s Department, “I was a little surprised by his letter, but we were able to clear the air and come to a mutual understanding that we still support each other, that we want our departments to be successful and that the library never intended to even imply that we might support something that was against law enforcement.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Douglas County Public Library released a joint statement Tuesday evening (read below):

Statement regarding Library's proposed diversity statement.
Statement regarding Library's proposed diversity statement.(Douglas County)

KOLO 8 News Now reached out to the sheriff for comment. However in a release, Douglas County said the sheriff’s office stands by their statement and will:

“Continue to fairly and impartially apply laws and ordinances without regard to race, color, creed, sex, or station in life. We shall honor the public trust issued and shall hold ourselves to the highest standards of professional police conduct and treat all individuals with tolerance, compassion, and dignity. We shall provide quality, empathetic, responsive, and professional service to the citizens and visitors of our community. We have a responsibility to provide service, leadership, guidance, and protection to our citizens, who in a partnership with us, strive to make our community a safer and more pleasant place to live.”

Here is the sheriff’s letter in its entirety:

Dear Douglas County Public Library Board of Trustees,

The tragic and preventable death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers shined a national spotlight on bad actors within the law enforcement profession. At the same time, data simply does not support claims that law enforcement is systemically racist or structurally biased. Despite the lack of available evidence to support the anti-police narrative, it proliferates and has spawned radical reactions such as the current calls to "defund the police," as well as increases in violence against police—ranging from assaults to assassinations.

Last year in the United States, a country with a population of 330 million people, 1,004 civilians were fatally shot by police officers. The vast majority of these officer-involved shootings were justifiable, and most involved an armed or dangerous subject. There were nine fatal shootings of unarmed black persons (down from thirty-eight in 2015) and nineteen fatal shooting of unarmed white persons (down from thirty-two in 2015) those deaths represent 0.1% of all black homicide victims and 0.3% of all white homicide victims.

The data indicate that exceedingly few encounters with police involve force. For example, only 2% of people who had any contact with police anytime in the prior twelve months said that officers used or even threatened to use force against them, according to the 2015 Police-Public Contact Survey conducted by United States Bureau of Justice Statistics. Over 58,000 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2018, according to FBI data collected from only two-thirds of law enforcement agencies. That is an assault rate of 10.8 per 100 officers. Moreover, assaults with deadly weapons against the police occurred thirty-three times per day.

Recent history confirms that when myths about the police are not strongly repudiated by our local, state and national leaders, law-enforcement officers lose their lives. In 2016, following a national rebellion against law enforcement —like what we are experiencing today —the number of officers shot and killed in the line of duty increased by 56% in that year alone. Twenty-one of those deaths were ambush-style shootings of law-enforcement officers. Who can forget the fine officers murdered in attacks in Dallas, Texas, and the three officers murdered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in only a ten-day period? In recent weeks of national unrest, 750 officers have already been injured defending their communities from the violence that has swept our country. Two members of law enforcement have already lost their lives.

The Douglas County Sheriffs Office is constantly evolving to ensure that training, resources and practices will best protect the safety of both the citizenry and the deputies. These men and women regularly receive advanced certificates and degrees, use new equipment and technology, and engage in regular trainings. I know this because I oversee the training, and ensure we are training to the highest level at all times. The Douglas County Sheriff's Office reflects the diversity that is seen in our community, and we make it a priority to treat all persons with respect regardless of race, gender or cultural differences.

The Douglas County Sheriffs Office is the only local law-enforcement agency in Douglas County and it is the men and women of DCSO that keep you safe. The Black Lives Matter movement openly calls all law enforcement corrupt and racist on their website. They call for the defunding of police, and we have seen how a lack of active law-enforcement has worked in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon. Numerous Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in violence, property damage and the closing of local businesses, sometimes permanently. To support this movement is to support violence and to openly ask for it to happen in Douglas County.

Due to your support of Black Lives Matter and the obvious lack of support or trust with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, please do not feel the need to call 911 for help. I wish you good luck with disturbances and lewd behavior, since those are just some of the recent calls my office has assisted you with in the past.

Sincerely

Sheriff Daniel J. Coverley

The letter can also be found on the sheriff’s office website here.

This is the proposed diversity statement from the Douglas County Library.
This is the proposed diversity statement from the Douglas County Library.(Douglas County Library)

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