JOHN DAY - The Grant County Law Enforcement Review Council is still going strong as the group looks for new members to join the organization, chairman Dave Traylor reported at the Wednesday, Sept. 17, meeting at the county courthouse.
The seven-member committee was formed about three years ago through popular vote to give local citizens the opportunity to voice concerns regarding law enforcement problems in the county. The committee continues to be a viable organization, he said.
"I feel we've been effective and have had several law enforcement department heads, including District Attorney Lee Carter, Sgt. Gordon Larson from the Oregon State Police, Sheriff Glenn Palmer and John Day Police Chief Kent Wyatt, attend our meetings," Traylor said. "We've received good input from them, and I think we've opened lines of communication between citizens and members of law enforcement."
Larson, in an interview after the meeting, agreed that the lines of communication have improved since the committee formed.
"The working relationship has been better since its inception," he said. "I have a good working relationship with the current chair, Dave Traylor."
Larson added that initial response to council, which was formed by a 1,671-1,029 vote in the May 16, 2000, primary election, was tentative.
"I believe the perception from law enforcement at least initially was dubious about the creation of it. I think that has improved," Larson said.
Recent violence directed at law enforcement, including a string of shootings in Grant County that left officers injured, should have prompted more response from the council, Larson said.
"I would have liked to see an outcry from them," he said.
Traylor said there are still some problems being encountered with the process of asking that citizens submit their concerns in writing, which is required before the committee takes any action.
"We will have people talk to committee members on the street to voice concerns, but many of them refuse to put anything on paper," he said. "They seem to think if they write anything they will be 'harassed' by officers and that is just not the case. All we've ever done on the committee is ask questions and write letters to the appropriate agencies in an effort to get an answer to our concerns."
At Wednesday's meeting, there was not a quorum of committee members present so no action was taken. However, Traylor reported a letter had been received regarding a traffic accident involving a Prairie City police vehicle which occurred prior to the Fourth of July parade. The matter was tabled until the committee's next meeting.
Committee member Byron Haberly shared feedback he had received about the conduct of local ambulance crews, but he did not elaborate about the concerns. He also raised concerns about speeding vehicles in Mt. Vernon. These and other issues may be discussed at the next regular meeting of the committee. This meeting is set for Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in the Grant County Courthouse conference room.
Traylor said there are two vacancies on the committee which need to be filled. Anyone interested can contact the Grant County Court at (541) 575-0059. Traylor also announced the committee's annual public meeting will take place in December at a date to be determined.