Recently Sheriff Scott Kane asked the Hancock County Commissioners to approve a purchase of “riot gear.”
I find it astonishing that this request [since withdrawn] would be made at the very time when our country is speaking out against police brutality and excessive use of force. Right here in the seat of Hancock County, we’ve had multiple entirely peaceful protests in the last two weeks. If the Sheriff looked at those demonstrators and the concept of riot gear entered his head, then I question whether he has the judgment required to do his job. Millions of people across the nation are standing up to say that police must only use force to the extent that it is necessary to ensure the public safety, and we are demanding better accountability for officers who ignore that threshold. Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s request suggests a predilection to dress for a fight and try to intimidate peaceful protesters.
Some who oppose the Black Lives Matter protests have spread a ridiculous disinformation campaign on social media, claiming that busloads of violent extremists were descending on Ellsworth from out of state. Any reasonable person who lives in this town and exercises some common sense would write that off as utter nonsense. I sincerely hope that the Sheriff isn’t entertaining these preposterous and inflammatory internet notions about violent agitators descending on Ellsworth to pillage our downtown; though it’s hard to imagine why else he would decide that there is an urgent need to procure riot gear for his department.
Too often in issues of police misconduct, conflicts stem, in part, from a failure for police to effectively de-escalate a tense situation. For our sheriff to request riot gear in the midst of a national debate on police behavior is tone-deaf and inflammatory, not to mention a ridiculous misuse of public funds. Our county’s money would be far better spent on further de-escalation training for our sheriff and his deputies.