My name is Jeremiah Jones, and I am running for Teton County Sheriff. I will introduce myself more broadly in a future letter and share more about my background as a police officer who has worked in multiple departments, as a training officer who prioritizes quality, as a veteran who is committed to service, and as a dad who cares deeply about the kind of community my kids grow up in. In the meantime, Cy, I want to respond to your thoughtful letter in the TVN.

First, I agree with you: Teton Valley is no exception to our nation’s systemic racism. It is imperative to acknowledge discrimination in law enforcement, including in our local department, even when it is “unintentional” or rooted in implicit bias. I encourage any citizen who doesn’t believe it exists to do more research and to recognize that you may not realize excessive force is occasionally used here if you have never been a victim of it.

The sheriff’s office needs increased transparency and accountability. Comprehensive reporting, required de-escalation training, and chokehold bans, are initial steps our community should take. We need to cut unnecessary spending from the budget and put more funds toward mental health support, anti-discrimination policies, and non-violent training. And we must investigate complaints against officers as thoroughly as we investigate crimes in our valley. No officer should work or be hired with a pattern of complaints against them.

While marginalized residents are often ignored when it comes to protecting and serving, they are disproportionately targeted when it comes to criminal charges or abuse against them. Our first step to changing this is to proactively track patterns of discrimination in our system. Data can help hold us accountable.

We must also update our hiring practices to reflect all residents of this valley. The current office is composed of a homogeneous staff who do not accurately represent all parts of our community including women, Hispanic community members, and more. The ability to speak Spanish is an important skill, but that alone does not make us immune to racial bias or discrimination.

This job is not about “action.” It is about protecting and serving ALL people in Teton Valley. No matter who you are or where you come from, you deserve a sheriff you can trust. For a more information about my plans and platform, visit my website: JonesForSheriff2020.com

Jeremiah Jones

Candidate for Teton County Sheriff

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