Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman has made an effort to reach out to the city’s Latinos as pressure intensifies on immigrants.
Shortly after the election of President Donald Trump, who promised tough policy on immigration, Marshman sent out a letter to Latino leaders.
“We remain committed to helping keep you safe,” the police chief wrote. “With the election over and the fear of changes that are to come, we, the Portland Police Bureau, recognize that these feelings are real and uncertainty is spreading among members of the community.”
Hispanic Catholics have seen an increase in verbal attacks, most dramatically Jan. 29, when eight men disrupted a Spanish Mass at St. Peter Church in Southeast Portland. The men shouted anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant epithets.
Marshman, head of a police force barred by state law from taking part in immigration enforcement, said officers will “continue to stand up against hate, evil and misinformation for those who can’t stand for themselves.”
In an interview with Rocío Rios of El Centinela, Marshman said he wants to calm the fears Hispanics may have when it comes to police. A new U.S. president cannot dictate what local police do, Marshman explained, reaffirming a promise that Portland police will not stop people specifically to ask them for their immigration status.
The chief said he wants to build relationships via human interaction, not just procedure announcements.
“It takes a long time to build trust, but it takes a short time to lose it,” Marshman said.
Aware that one way to build trust is to hire more Latino officers, Marshman asked for patience. Many Portland Latino families are young, with students in high school or just starting college. The pool of potential recruits should start expanding, said Marshman.