The entrance to Salem police headquarters. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
The members of a committee that will provide an examination of Salem police performance range from sworn officers to racial equity consultants.
Salem City Councilor Vanessa Nordyke called for an audit in June following racial justice protests in Salem and across the county. The Salem City Council approved the idea at its July 13 meeting.
The audit seeks to examine the ways local police officers interact with those in mental health crisis, people experiencing homelessness and Black, Indigenous and people of color.
It will also examine response to crowds, use of force and officer accountability. The Salem Police Department came under fire earlier this summer after being accused of taking a lighter touch to armed individuals standing outside of businesses than to protesters calling for police accountability. On Monday, a Salem woman filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming Salem police caused permanent vision damage by shooting her in the face with a rubber bullet.
City spokeswoman Courtney Knox Busch said the city sought local subject matter experts with experience and perspectives directly related to the scope of work in the audit.
The city hasn’t chosen an outside contractor to perform the audit yet, but Knox Busch said work is expected to start at the end of this month. Preliminary findings are expected by mid-December.
The 10-member steering committee will be chaired by Jodi Sherwood, who also chairs the city’s Community Police Review Board which fields complaints about police from community members. Sherwood, a project manager for the Oregon Business Development Department, used to work for the Oregon State Police on the school threat tip line.
The city also sought input from Black, Indigenous and people of color. The committee will also include:
• Levi Herrera is the executive director of Mano a Mano, a Latino community resources group.
• Wilma Marchbanks, a member of Salem’s Human Rights Commission, is a racial equity consultant.
• Kathleen Jonathan, who works in the Salem-Keizer School District doing community school outreach for Marshallese students.
• Ann-Marie Bandfield, Marion County’s health program manager, who has a background in behavioral health.
• George Burke, the deputy chief of police, and Scotty Nowning, the president of the Salem Police Employees Union, will offer a law enforcement perspective.
• Ashley Hamilton, director of The ARCHES Project, was chosen because the audit seeks to examine how law enforcement interact with the unsheltered population. A city sponsored survey released in July found that Salem’s unsheltered population gave the city the lowest grade for discrimination out of the respondents.
• Casey Kopcho, an auditor at the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.
• Cyndi Leinassar, community relations liaison at Salem Health and president of the Salem Police Foundation, will bring her experience with the unsheltered population drawing from her time directing the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.
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Have a story tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] or @daisysaphara.