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Washtenaw Sheriff Clayton Talks About Police Reform & Finding Ways For Everyone To Work Together

Jun 23, 2020

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton
Credit Michigan Sheriffs' Association / misheriff.org

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton is speaking out about police reform, saying recent racial incidents involving police have "sparked a moment requiring immediate action."  He talks with WEMU's Lisa Barry and says that moment needs to be turned into a new era of police reform, criminal justice reform, and societal reform that fundamentally deconstructs institutional systemic and structural racism.


Sheriff Clayton says if these discussions, demonstrations and social movements don't move society from a "moment" to a "new era," then that should be considered a failure.  He believes this requires thoughtfulnesses to shift the power imbalance between government and people and be thoughtful about the outcomes that we want and the strategies required to achieve those outcomes.  Sheriff Clayton says money comes last.  He says, "If we start the discussion about money you've already lost," adding he believes that restricts creativity and options.  Clayton says police and public safety reform will require societal reform, not just police reform, but a commitment to "the hard work to get there."

He believes it's important to focus on the sheriff's department culture, as well as values and beliefs, which drive behavior and policy evolving to be more inclusive of the community.

The Washtenaw County sheriff says mutual respect is the cornerstone of trust, and if you can trust each other now, we can start to work and see each other with positive intent.  He believes there's no mutual respect if we don't view what is said with positive intent.  He adds that is something we have to work towards, but there has to be a reckoning and accountability.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu