“Eliminating gender bias in policing practices is an integral component of combating sexual assault and domestic violence, and can have a real and immediate effect on the safety of individual victims.” US Department of Justice: Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

The focus of this story revolves around gender bias in the Coos County Sheriff’s Office, and particularly the actions of Deputy Adam Slater, however, gender bias is found in many area agencies. We can harken back to an incident involving transwoman Kamryn Stringfield when despite providing video of men stalking, menacing, and assaulting her and who are associated with ex-radio host Rob Taylor, the Coos Bay Police Department never followed up. The Stringfield case mirrors examples of gender bias offered in the above-cited report.

A consequence of gender bias whether conscious or unconscious, explicit or implicit, is that a law enforcement officer may decide an allegation is unfounded and the perpetrator remains free to reoffend. In the case of Valarie Smith, a woman whose accused rapist never even faced questioning, much less charges, even though Deputy Slater submitted the case to the DA, the deputy demonstrated apparent bias against the victim.

One of the classic ways law enforcement officers will hinder an investigation is to “fail to locate.” The suspect, Jason Snelgrove, has a phone, a home, a vehicle, and a social media presence but somehow Slater couldn’t find him within the probable cause window of seven to ten days. When the alleged victim called to find out what was going on Slater deflected by stating, “You were flirting and drinking,” implying the assault was her fault and she shouldn’t expect any justice.

Smith has filed complaints with the agency about Slater’s conduct as well as the Attorney General. To date she has been ignored.

Loni Schaffer felt further abused by Slater when an altercation with her estranged husband found her naked, bleeding, bruised and stunned at the bottom of her driveway on Hwy 42. According to Schaffer, Slater didn’t offer any support or sympathy or even something to cover herself with and instead stood in front of her and yelled at her for supposedly “allowing her husband onto the property.”

Slater attended the 2006 crash site attributed to the death of Schaffer’s seventeen-year-old daughter Shayleen and the family has raised reasonable concerns about his hasty conclusions. Schaffer has been trying to reopen the investigation into her daughter’s death having found evidence of a more sinister explanation. Still, the previous administration was indifferent, and it appears the new sheriff, Gabe Fabrizio is equally disinterested or at least, according to Schaffer, resistant to returning phone calls.

in The Danger Imperative: Violence, Death and the Soul of Policing, by Michael Sierra-Arévalo which focuses on the use of force and violence within modern policing and racial bias, he discusses the impact of departmental culture on agency practices.

“…our understanding of the interplay among structure, culture, and violence within the state itself is limited…Police culture, however, receives short shrift. When it is examined, it is treated as a static, a priori phenomenon spawned by the structural conditions commonly confronted by officers across disparate police organizations…

“Rather than being continually re-created through the perception and action of officers, this top-down model views culture as something which acts upon officers and exists external to them; officers are treated as products of culture, not producers.”

The culture and the policies implemented and enforced within the leadership of an agency should be acceptable to the citizens served before the voters agree to provide that leadership with additional funding. Fabrizio is a personable fellow, but he can’t expect to manage the agency just by employing “combat marketing”, (an homage to his military psyops training). Given the entirety of his law enforcement experience from 2014 is encompassed within this one agency he is a product, not a producer, of the existing culture, a culture which has tolerated gender bias.

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