City Signs onto Obama’s ‘Mayor’s Pledge’

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June 2 Tualatin BLM Protest. Tualatin Life file photo.
June 2 Tualatin BLM Protest. Tualatin Life file photo.

Tualatin city councilors have agreed to sign the Obama Foundation’s Mayor’s Pledge, which calls for city leaders to review police use of force policies, gather community input, report their findings and make reforms.

Other metro area cities, including Tigard and Beaverton, have also signed the pledge following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minn.

“Hopefully, we’re all in support of this,” Mayor Frank Bubenik said during the June 8 council meeting, where he sought agreement from the other councilors before signing the pledge.

Councilor Bridget Brooks said that the pledge would be a chance to distinguish the Tualatin Police Department from other law enforcement organizations and provide the “opportunity to highlight what it is we’re doing well, to be an example where we can be and to strengthen our organization and transparency.”

“I like to look at things on a continuum,” she added, “and I think we’re always evolving and changing as we grow and learn more about ourselves and each other.”

Former President Barack Obama speaking during a virtual roundtable last month. Photo courtesy of the Obama Foundation.
Former President Barack Obama speaking during a virtual roundtable last month. Photo courtesy of the Obama Foundation.

City Manager Sherilyn Lombos and Police Chief Bill Steele are creating a plan to review use of force polices and gather community comments over the next three months, according to a statement from the city.

“This is important,” Lombos said during the meeting. “We will make the bandwidth [to do this].”

During the council meeting, Steele said that incidents of police brutality across the country “make me sick, and I know they make our department sick.”

“There’s no doubt about it, change needs to occur in our country,” he said. “Racism needs to stop. Excessive use of force by police needs to stop. And now is an opportunity to make that happen.”

In May, Steele joined several regional law enforcement officials in signing a statement condemning the actions by police officers that killed Floyd, sparking nationwide outrage and protests, including in Tualatin where a protest march through the city on June 2 drew hundreds of demonstrators.

During the June 8 council meeting, councilors praised local police, city staff and the demonstrators for making the march a poignant, peaceful event.

“I thought it was a great example of civil discourse that was done respectfully,” Councilor Robert Kellogg said. “It never got out of control, and everybody that walked away from there did so feeling better about themselves and hopefully doing something to start to heal the deep wounds that are out there.”