PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners has unanimously adopted an order that expresses support for local police officers and says that recent protests against police brutality and racial injustice “disregard and disrespect” members of law enforcement.
The order adopted Wednesday references a “horrific” event in Minneapolis but does not mention George Floyd by name, the East Oregonian reported Thursday. Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and for his mother.
“The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners strongly objects to the horrific act that took place in the City of Minneapolis … at the same time, we are also troubled by a movement across the country to disregard and disrespect the 800,000 sworn officers who have taken an oath to protect the citizenry and preserve the peace,” the order stated.
Commissioner John Shafer, a former sheriff’s dispatcher, said in a separate interview with the newspaper that there is “no way” any local police officers would behave the same way and said the commissioners felt all law enforcement officers are being unfairly criticized for the actions of a few.
“So many of the people that I know of got into the profession in the first place to help people,” Shafer said. “These people are having the worst day of their lives, and they turn to these professionals … that’s why they chose that profession. And now for them to be chastised for that decision — it makes me sick.”
Umatilla County is a county of about 80,000 residents located about 210 miles (337 kilometers) east of Portland.
Portland has seen thousands of people march and protest every night for more than three weeks protesting Floyd’s death and police brutality. Protests have also happened throughout Oregon.
Portland lawmakers on Wednesday voted to slash nearly $16 million from the police budget and move the money to social programs instead. The police budget had stood at about $245 million before the commission action.