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Clergy: Policing in Bend must not be ‘business as usual’ under new chief

New Bend Police Chief Michael Krantz
City of Bend/courtesy Michael Krantz
Portland Police Bureau Assistant Chief Michael Krantz, named Bend's next police chief

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Several Bend clergy said Monday they have published an open letter expressing concern over the process that led to the hiring of Portland Assistant Police Chef Mike Krantz as Bend’s next police chief, as well as the culture of policing in which he was trained.

“In a moment in time where deep sensitivity must be given to decisions made about law enforcement, it seems that blind spots have plagued this process,” said Jer Swigart, co-founder of The Global Immersion Project, a Christian peacemaking organization. “We as clergy feel called to examine the city-wide systems of power for areas of latent white supremacy and outright racism that cause such blind spots.”

These pastors and faith leaders came together in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the uprisings that followed nationally and in Central Oregon.

The group expressed concern at City Manager Eric King’s process in hiring Officer Krantz. Several grassroots organizations—particularly those led by people of color—were opposed to Krantz, and yet that feedback does not seem to have influenced King’s decision.

“This is a ‘come to Jesus’ moment for police departments, “ said Rev. Morgan Schmidt, founder of Pandemic Partners and pastor at First Presbyterian Church. “Bend can either take that cue, listening to its residents with creativity and heart, or we can ignore this national moment and risk seeing the same violence we’ve seen in other cities.”

Krantz arrives in Bend having served in, and helped to lead, the Portland Police Bureau, a department that has a history of protecting officers in incidents of police brutality against people of color. The department was recently accused of being in contempt of court after using tear gas against unarmed Portland protesters, just hours after Governor Kate Brown banned its use.

“We imagine a world in which faithful and vocal resistance to state policies can be heard and honored, not met with tear gas. We imagine a world in which ‘policing’ means embodying a presence of community care, health and healing,” said Swigart.

In the letter, the group calls on City Manager King, City Council, and the Bend Police Department to set an example for other cities by employing more innovative approaches to policing. They urge leaders to implement the policy demands outlined by Reimagine Oregon, and they commit to holding those entities accountable and walking in partnership as Officer Krantz begins his tenure this week.

The clergy signed onto the letter are: Rev. Dr. Sam Adams, Bend Mennonite; Courtney Christenson; Rabbi Johanna Hershenson, Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rev. Shimiko Montgomery, Bend-La Pine School Board Member; Rev. Scott Rudolph, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon; Rev. Morgan Schmidt, First Presbyterian Church & Pandemic Partners; Rev. Erika Spaet, the Storydwelling community; and Jer Swigart, The Global Immersion Project

For additional information about Reimagine Oregon, visit www.reimagineoregon.org

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Comments

27 Comments

    1. Until the blue lives matter secret racist symbols are removed from all police cars in deschutes county, i would say yes we do have a problem… so easy to fix too!

  1. “we can ignore this national moment and risk seeing the same violence we’ve seen in other cities.”
    Great. Bend just needs to stop enforcing laws and let people loot and riot. It’s working great in Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, Furgeson. All those deeeeeep blue democrat run progressive cities. They all seem to have something in common don’t they?

  2. Maybe the new majority of migration into Bend wants Bend to become like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco etc… where they all came from. They sure are hiring for it.

  3. For me hiring outside the dept is a way to not practice business as usual, does anyone know who the preferred candidate for this clergy group was?

  4. It has been pointed out that less that 1% of police officers nationally should not be wearing a badge.

    That said, an estimated 9.6% of Clergy have been accused of sexually abusing children. The daily news stories support this and the number may in fact be low.

    The clergy authoring this letter regarding incoming Chief Krantz are encouraged to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with regard to their own challenges as spiritual leaders – the hypocrisy here is stunning.

      1. It was bend police who had fake-flag racial symbols on their squad cars for YEARS, portland didnt do that and maybe time for us to learn a few things from them

  5. You won’t “risk ” seeing the same violence and destruction as in Portland if you enforce the law and don’t allow it. That’s what police do so let them do it and quit sounding like a pussyhat wearing dbag👙

  6. Reimagine Oregon appears to be nothing more than a shill for the Oregon Democratic machine that had brought pain and suffering to the state. I’m sure some of the folks that signed that letter were well intentioned but misguided.

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