By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Police forum organized in wake of tragedies

Each time another mass shooting or similar tragedy occurs somewhere in the country, the Rev. Kathy Neary asks her parishioners at McMinnville Cooperative Ministries to keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers.

It gets a little tiresome, she confessed. “At some point, you have to say, “What else can we do besides pray?”

Neary said she reached the tipping point after African American men were shot by police July 5 in Louisiana and July 6 in Minnesota, and five police officers were gunned down July 7 in Texas. She decided to organize a meeting between local residents and two top law enforcement figures, McMinnville Police Chief Matt Scales and Yamhill County Sheriff Tim Svenson, for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at the combined Lutheran/Methodist church, 544 N.E. Second St.

“The national events were the impetus for it,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘I cannot do one more prayer vigil. It doesn’t do anything. What else can we do in response to these horrible, violent events?’”

Neary said everyone in the community is invited to engage in dialog with Scales, Svenson and any other law enforcement personnel opting to attend.

She said one of her goals is for people to become aware of the kind of training law-enforcement officers go through, the kind of stress they face on the job and how they respond to both crisis situations and community concerns. “Understanding these things will help be in community with them,” she said.

Neary said she is trying to foster an informal and relaxed gathering.

“If anyone wants to bring cookies to share, that would be fine,” she said. “Cookies help tremendously in these situations.”