Nev. sheriff to library supporting BLM: 'Do not feel the need to call 911'

The sheriff's comments came after the library said it was considering making a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

By Anna Bauman
San Francisco Chronicle

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Nev. — When librarians in the Lake Tahoe area considered issuing a statement in support of Black Lives Matter this week, the local sheriff made his opposition clear in a public letter: Don’t bother calling 911. Good luck with any disturbances.

The spat in Douglas County — located near South Lake Tahoe in Nevada — illustrates rising tension surrounding issues of policing, law enforcement and racism.

Sheriff Daniely Coverley has been a member of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Nevada since 1997, according to records.
Sheriff Daniely Coverley has been a member of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Nevada since 1997, according to records. (Photo/Douglas County Sheriff's Office)

In a letter sent Monday to the public library board, Douglas County Sheriff Daniel Coverley said he thinks there is no evidence of systemic racism in law enforcement. Citing property damage and violence during recent protests, he said that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement means supporting violence in the community.

“Due to your support of Black Lives Matter and the obvious lack of support or trust with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, please do not feel the need to call 911 for help,” Coverley wrote. “I wish you good luck with disturbances and lewd behavior, since those are just some of the recent calls my office has assisted you with in the past.”

In a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the library board planned to consider issuing a diversity statement that welcomed everyone and denounced violence, racism and disregard for human rights.

“We support #Black Lives Matter,” the statement said. “We resolutely assert and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality and injustice don’t belong in our society.”

The meeting was canceled and will be rescheduled, county officials said.

Instead, library director Amy Dodson met Tuesday with Coverley to discuss the statement and their differing views.

“We agreed that we both support the people of Douglas County and this may have been an unfortunate circumstance of misunderstanding,” Dodson said in a joint statement. “The library respects and supports the work of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and appreciates everything they do to keep our community safe.”

Coverley said on Tuesday that he was trying to “understand the intent of their proposed diversity statement.” He clarified that the Sheriff’s Office will respond to 911 calls at the library.

“This has been a difficult time to be a law enforcement professional and can be disheartening when we perceive that our office may be under attack,” he said. “My response was rooted in my belief that these issues need to be openly discussed in a way that values diversity and law enforcement.”

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