To the editor:

Jackson Chief of Police Chris Perley’s recent remarks “People should be very cautious about listening to voices suggesting defunding of the police because their motives are not always in the best interest of society” were highly inappropriate but unsurprising.

To use the alleged despicable actions of a single individual (Mr. DeVries) to impugn the motives of a nationwide, multiracial movement is not only deeply cynical, it’s also a standard Chief Perley would be reluctant to hold his own institution to.

I pose the questions to Chief Perley: How should one evaluate the motives of police writ large when a local chief steals from the D.A.R.E Program (former Bartlett Chief Snow) or when an officer murders an unarmed Black person (George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, etc.)? Should we assume police have “motives in the best interest of society” when the FBI cites links between law enforcement and white supremacist extremists in its 2015 Counterterrorism Report?

When officers commit atrocities, we’re told they’re “bad apples” and don’t reflect the rest of law enforcement. When an individual like Mr. DeVries commits heinous crimes, Chief Perley seeks to discredit tens of thousands of activists calling for community-based alternatives to policing and the millions who support them.

Police ostensibly operate under the mantra of “serve and protect.” So, when police actions trigger protests across the globe, adherents to that guiding principle ought to ask, “how can we better serve our community?” not use police work as a cudgel to silence criticisms. I point to Jackson’s top-notch fire department as an exemplar of a public institution that operates with a service-first approach.

Chief Perley’s opportunistic comment underscores a driving motivation for replacing policing with alternative models; police do not want to be held accountable by those they ought to be serving and protecting. He should apologize.

Terry Classen

Scarborough, Maine

Formerly of Glen

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(4) comments

Dansea4

I agree with The Jackson Chief. What the man that he commented on did is just about the most vile thing a man can do! If he has pictures of little girls being sexually abused, chances are he has or has thought of doing it himself! And if there isn’t any police, criminals like him will get away with it! I hope they throw the book at this abuser and send him to jail!

Thaddeus

It was a really dumb thing for Perley to say, and it would be the equivalent of someone saying that we should be very cautious about listening to law enforcement because some police officers are corrupt and commit crimes. You think Perley would get behind that generalization? Chief should have just said "no comment on a pending case" and kept it at that instead of jamming his foot in his mouth up to the ankle.

TOWN MEMBER

Thank you for posting this. Although I want to so badly support the police in fighting crime, they are sadly never around when I need them. Instead they are filled with too much false pride and an unnecessary need to be praised 24 hours a day. There needs to be a middle ground here, and Jackson Chief truly needs to step down from his post.

Denis

Chief Perley should re-assess his attitudes and his fitness in his role in the community because he seems to be at conflict with the two.

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