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Washoe County Sheriff reacts to Northern Nevada’s racial climate

Published: Aug. 1, 2020 at 8:07 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A letter from the Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverley that was sent on Tuesday to the Douglas County Library stirred up some controversy. Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam shared his perspective on our nation’s current quest to end systemic racism.

”Whatever we are dealing with in other issues, we can deal with those but when you call for help that is what we are here to do, to serve you,” Balaam stated.

Sheriff Balaam discussed how his office has been strengthening the gaps and relationships with our community since the death of George Floyd in late May.

“When they pick up the phone, one they know we are going to respond, two we are going to treat them with respect no matter what race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, it doesn’t matter, you are a citizen of this community, you have called 911 and we will help,” said Balaam.

The Sheriff touched on the misconceptions of what the Black Lives Matter movement strives for. He added, in law enforcement and rallies against racism, there are people who try to steer the focus elsewhere. He referenced the riots in Reno on May 30th, which were not affiliated with the peaceful protest held that afternoon.

”We can’t paint that broad brush on Black Lives Matter, that they are all violent, they are all wanting, to defund the police, because that is not true,” Balaam said.

He said this movement is centered on accountability for racist actions in policing, education, the workforce, and more. His office is working on collecting all information from major uses of force situations, evaluating their training, breaking down interactions by race, and informing the public.

”As law enforcement starts sharing more of that information and I think for law enforcement besides answering those 911 calls, we also need to bring people into our organizations and educate them,” Balaam explained.

There have been more than 400 years of racism and it is far from over, but Sheriff Balaam said he is working to improve the actions of law enforcement in Northern Nevada and he hopes other Sheriffs will do the same

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