Law Enforcement Relations Team (aLERT)



In February 2015, aLERT (Law Enforcement Relations Team) was established in order to improve the communication and relationships among law enforcement in Yamhill County and its Latino communities.  Our goal is to create growing partnerships which will lead to safer communities and increased access of Latinos to law enforcement services.

Under the leadership of Doug Johnson, the team has developed an ongoing working relationship with the McMinnville Police Department, Chief Matt Scales, and Captain Tim Symons.  Representatives from aLERT and Mac PD have met regularly to learn from each other and engage with the larger community.

We are pleased with the progress that has been made in large part as a result of aLERT’s efforts and the positive response from the McMinnville Police Department.  McMinnville Police Department now has reporting forms been translated into Spanish and a new website that is Spanish-accessible. 

An evening forum at St. James Catholic Church with Chief Scales and Captain Symons was well attended by many Spanish-speaking members of our community in the fall of 2015.  With interpreters, we were able to discuss issues such as how to report a crime, the differences between local law enforcement and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement with the Department of Homeland Security), the role of law enforcement with domestic violence, and the future goals of Mac PD.

In May 2016, aLERT and the Mac PD sponsored three workshops for all staff and officers in the Police Department, as well as officers from Carlton and Cornelius, entitled “Living and Working in a Diverse Community.”  These workshops highlighted the changing demographics of Yamhill County, cultural differences and similarities among Latino and non-Latino individuals and families, and how to reduce the implicit biases that each of us carry with us. Unidos is pleased with this beginning opportunity for police officers and community members to interact with each other.

Conversations with Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office began in 2013 under Sheriff Crabtree’s tenure.  When the campaign for a new sheriff was underway, Unidos sponsored a bilingual Sheriffs’ Candidate Forum in two locations so that the broader community could be better informed prior to the 2014 election. With Sheriff Tim Svenson’s election, we began collaboration under the direction of Captain Brandon Bowdle and Sergeant Brian Young.

Both the Sheriff’s Office and the McMinnville Police Department have reached out to members of aLERT to include them in the recruitment and hiring processes of their law enforcement officers and support staff.  Both organizations have placed a high priority on developing a more diverse workforce.

The Police Chief’s and Sheriff ‘s teams have met with Latino residents in five different apartment complexes in McMinnville, Dayton, and Lafayette for introductory conversations. The sessions have provided the opportunity to ask questions and break stereotypes. We look forward to more of these informal gatherings for both education and relationship-building. 

Would you like to serve on the Law Enforcement Relations Team (aLERT)?  We would like to have more Latinos and non-Latinos participate in this important work in Yamhill County.


Please contact Doug Johnson for more information.


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