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Priorities

From prioritizing mental health, to reducing disparities, to using the powers of the Sheriff's Office to protect the environment, our community can count on Alyshia Dyer to have a plan and get the job done.

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While the current Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office administration may brand itself as progressive, the evidence says otherwise.​

  • The Police Scorecard ranks the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office in the 9th percentile for police accountability.

  • FBI data shows that the Sheriff's Office arrests Black people for low-level, non-violent offenses at more than 11 times the rate of white people, ranking in the 6th percentile for racial disparities in drug arrests.

  • The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office does not appear once in the County's 141-page Resilient Washtenaw climate action plan, despite being one of the County's largest departments.

 

Alyshia has been a consistent champion of progressive values for years and worked at our Sheriff's Office as a road patrol deputy before becoming a therapist. This isn't just a job for her; public service is who she is. 

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On the Issues

  • Reform the Washtenaw County Jail
    Bring Back In-Person Visitation A study from the Minnesota Department of Corrections found that receiving in-person visits reduces the likelihood that an incarcerated person will go back to prison by up to 25 percent. In-person visitation keeps families connected, allows for peer-led reentry programming and clergy visits representing all faiths, reduces violence, and improves recidivism rates. Unfortunately, long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office removed in-person visitation. The Sheriff’s Office still only allows visitation through video conferences. Alyshia will follow the evidence, bringing back in-person visitation to improve safety, promote successful reentry, and create a better quality of life for all. Deprivatize Jail Food Services The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office contracts with Canteen Corrections for the jail's food services. Canteen Corrections is capitalized by New Heritage Capital, a private equity firm in Boston, and has a 1.7-star rating from workers on Glassdoor. Alyshia supports ending this contract, bringing commissary services in-house, and replacing 1.7-star private jobs with living-wage, unionized County jobs. With public control and oversight of food services, Alyshia supports purchasing food locally, using our tax dollars to support farmers in Washtenaw instead of private equity in Boston. Improve Safety and Staffing The Washtenaw County Jail is severely understaffed, creating safety issues for employees and incarcerated people. The Sheriff’s Office’s current administration could have prevented this long before the COVID-19 pandemic – it was widely known that employees were going to retire and positions would need to be filled. Poor working conditions lead to corrections workers quitting, which leads to mandatory overtime and worsens other working conditions, which creates a vicious cycle where even more corrections workers quit. A positive working environment with a reasonable workload can stop this cycle, allowing the Sheriff’s Office to retain employees. Alyshia supports reducing the workload for corrections workers by promoting alternatives to incarceration for minor offenses. She also supports improving mental health resources for employees and improving jail conditions to increase safety. Alyshia will revamp the Sheriff’s Office’s hiring practices to ensure applicants are hearing back from Human Resources as soon as possible. She will also eliminate barriers in the hiring process that disproportionately prevent non-traditional candidates from having a chance. Additionally, Alyshia will create a long-term hiring plan that accounts for future retirements and retention rates. Reform Jail Policies and Procedures The United Nations' Nelson Mandela Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Rule 45, states, "Solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review, and only pursuant to the authorization by a competent authority." Alyshia will audit and monitor Washtenaw County Jail policies and practices to improve compliance with internationally-accepted standards for the treatment of incarcerated people and employees, including the Nelson Mandela Rules. Alyshia will additionally ban solitary confinement for vulnerable populations, including pregnant women.
  • Employee Mental Health and Wellness
    Fatigue Management System A study of nearly 5,000 American police officers found that nearly half (45.7%) have fallen asleep while driving. One in four officers reported falling asleep while driving at least once per month. With nearly a decade of experience as a Washtenaw County Deputy Sheriff, Alyshia has seen the hazards of sleep deprivation firsthand. Among police officers, sleep deprivation increases safety errors, uncontrolled anger toward citizens, serious administrative errors, and absenteeism. Meanwhile, the National Safety Council estimates that worker fatigue costs the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office over $450,000 per year in absenteeism, decreased productivity, and healthcare costs. Given that road patrol deputies carry firearms and sleep deprivation can lead to impaired judgment, it's crucial to address this issue proactively to keep both officers and our community safe. Working consecutive 16-hour shifts with minimal sleep is common for frontline workers. The current administration classifies falling asleep as a Class One offense – the most serious and punishable disciplinary infraction for workers. This leads to many workers falling asleep in unsafe locations to avoid being punished, placing them in danger. Alyshia will implement protocols and wellness spaces in Sheriff's Office buildings to allow employees to rest for 30-minute periods when they report fatigue. Under Alyshia's policy, no punitive action will be taken for employees reporting exhaustion, and sleeping on duty will be removed from the list of Class One disciplinary offenses. Bringing a Fitness Area In-House Law enforcement officers' average life expectancy is 22 years shorter than the general public and officers are 1.7 times more likely than the general population to have cardiovascular disease. The high demands of shift work make it hard for officers to engage in fitness activities off duty. Implementing an in-house fitness area will allow employees the ability to work out during allowed breaks, downtime, and before or after shifts. Law enforcement officers experience toxic stress and PTSD at extremely high rates, and healthy physical fitness habits can help reduce stress and improve cognitive function. Moving police academies away from militaristic models of training and toward low-stress training that includes yoga and mindfulness leads to officers that use less force and are more likely to de-escalate situations. Due to the nature of the job, shift work, and unique factors in emergency services, having space in the office for fitness opportunities will better meet the needs of employees. Allowing fitness opportunities will help reduce overall use of force violations, officer injuries, and negative interactions with the public. Peer-Led Mental Health Programs Law enforcement officers are frequently called upon to respond to mental health crises, despite facing mental health crises of their own. Alyshia will collaborate with the Union to create a comprehensive peer-led mental health support program specifically designed to address the unique concerns of employees. This initiative aims to destigmatize mental health issues, creating an improved workplace environment that, in turn, will contribute to increased retention rates.
  • Protect Our Environment
    Enforce Environmental Laws Michigan has over 40 environmental laws, protecting our communities by preventing air pollution, water contamination, and the mismanagement of hazardous wastes. Local law enforcement agencies can – but unfortunately often do not – play an important role in protecting our environment by enforcing environmental laws and investigating corporate polluters. Alyshia will hold corporate polluters accountable as part of her initiative to establish a Corporate Accountability Crimes Unit within the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau. This unit will enforce Michigan’s environmental laws, ensuring that resources to respond to, investigate, and prevent environmental crimes are provided county-wide. Reduce Vehicle Emissions A report from the United States Department of Energy found that police vehicles can spend up to 60% of their time idling during normal operation. Engine idling pollutes our air and contributes to climate change, with idling vehicles generating more than 30 million tons of CO2 each year. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department saved 260 gallons of gasoline per year, per police vehicle by adding idling reduction systems. The systems paid for themselves after 6 months. Alyshia supports adding idling reduction systems to the Sheriff’s Office vehicle fleet and adding remote starters to reduce the negative environmental impacts of vehicle idling. Support Sustainable Agriculture Studies show that gardening programs improve the mental health and self-esteem of incarcerated people and reduce recidivism in prisons and jails. The Washtenaw County Jail contracts with a food service company that is capitalized by a private equity firm in Boston. Meanwhile, the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council’s policy agenda calls for the County government to support locally-grown foods that are nutritious, accessible, equitable, and sustainably produced. Alyshia supports implementing a robust sustainable gardening program at the Washtenaw County Jail to improve mental health and reduce recidivism. Alyshia supports ending the Jail’s contract with Canteen Corrections and contracting with local farmers to provide nutritious and sustainably-produced food.
  • Fight for Racial Justice
    End Unnecessary Traffic Stops and Ticket Quotas Washtenaw County Deputy Sheriffs are placed in a high-pressure quota system, in which there is administrative pressure to make more traffic stops and write more tickets. This directly contributes to massive racial disparities in arrests, with data showing the Sheriff's Office arrests Black people at 11.1 times the rate of white people for non-violent, low-level offenses. The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office has been using contract policing which generates revenue for local municipalities through tickets, fines, and fees for decades. The Department of Justice found that this practice caused significant oppression of the Black community in Ferguson. Notably, using policing for revenue generation disproportionately harms Black women – especially Black mothers – who often shoulder the financial burdens of fines and fees. Alyshia will end the Sheriff's Office's administrative quotas, taking unneeded pressure to meet arbitrary numbers away from officers whenever possible. Alyshia also supports enacting a policy that prevents deputies from pulling over people for minor traffic offenses that do not pose a safety risk. End Coercive Interrogation Techniques In 1989, five Black and Latino boys, known as the Central Park Five (now rightfully known as the Exonerated Five) were wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting a woman who was jogging. During the investigation, a deceptive and confrontational interrogation technique called the Reid technique was used, coercing the boys into falsely confessing to the crime. After 35 years and countless scientific studies, groups including police consulting agencies, state legislatures, and civil liberties organizations have taken a stand against coercive interrogation techniques, like the Reid technique, because they lead to innocent people falsely confessing to crimes. Despite this, the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office still trains deputies to use the same investigation technique that was used to wrongfully convict the Exonerated (Central Park) Five and many others. Over the last five years, the Sheriff’s Office administration has not only continued Reid interrogation training, they have increased their spending for it by 280%. Alyshia will bring the Sheriff's Office's interviewing techniques into the 21st century by replacing the coercive Reid interrogation technique with the internationally respected and non-coercive PEACE method of investigation. She will use the relationships she has built with experts to provide deputies with the training they need to be successful in implementing this model. Protect Immigrant Communities Alyshia has supported Drive Michigan Forward to advocate for undocumented people to be able to get driver’s licenses, signed on to national policy recommendations to protect immigrants, will take hate crimes seriously, and will ensure proper training and policies are in place so our local Sheriff’s Office is not collaborating with ICE.
  • Solutions for Safety
    Unarmed Community Crisis Response Often, when problems related to quality of life or mental health occur, people call 911 and the police have to respond, even when non-police professionals, like social workers, mediators, or nurses, would have been better equipped to handle the situation. This results in over-policing and wastes police resources. Unarmed community crisis programs, operating independently from law enforcement, have been proven to work in these situations and offer more holistic care. Alyshia will ensure a portion of the Sheriff's Office Washtenaw County Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage funds go toward supporting unarmed community response initiatives, separate from law enforcement. Ensuring Proper Use of 911 Alyshia will ensure dispatch is not sending officers to calls that do not call for a police response. One example is when people call to report “suspicious behavior” solely based on someone's skin color or ethnicity. In a time with rising violence concerning hate crimes, it is critical police managers ensure dispatchers have the resources needed to identify these calls. This will also improve the quality of service so we are not wasting deputies’ time. Children Need Help, not Handcuffs Alyshia believes that for children to thrive, one of the most important factors is keeping them out of our local legal system whenever possible. Indefensibly, Black children in Washtenaw County are routinely criminalized, being eight times more likely to be arrested. Recognizing the risk that criminalization in childhood poses for future incarceration, Alyshia is committed to training employees in understanding childhood trauma and informing families about available support for young people during unavoidable 911 calls involving children. Alyshia supports investments in restorative justice and plans to implement a policy offering victims the option of participating in restorative justice instead of the conventional legal system process when officers respond to crimes involving young people. Additionally, Alyshia firmly opposes deputies enforcing status offenses, absenteeism, or school administrative policies, given the role of these responses in the school-to-prison pipeline and the adversarial interactions that these responses create between children and police. Improve Traffic Safety As a former road patrol deputy, Alyshia has managed investigations and responded to accidents where pedestrians and motorists have been injured or lost their lives. Improving traffic safety through interventions like traffic calming (speed bumps, proper lighting, and curb extensions) improves public safety and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels by making it easier for people to walk and bike in our community. That’s why Alyshia supports Vision Zero and is committed to using the powers of the Sheriff’s Office, including its ability to receive public safety grants, to make our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. Reduce Use of Force Incidents Having police officers pursue suspects on foot and in vehicles is dangerous for everyone. Chases create an injury risk for both officers and suspects, increase the odds that an arrest will involve police use of force by 345%, and were found to contribute to 3,223 vehicle accidents in Michigan from 2017 to 2021, causing 60 deaths. Recognizing these hazards, the Police Executive Research Forum – an independent research organization consisting of law enforcement professionals from across the United States – recommends “that pursuits should take place only when two very specific standards are met: (1) A violent crime has been committed and (2) the suspect poses an imminent threat to commit another violent crime.” As Executive Director Chuck Wexler notes, “You can get a suspect another day, but you can’t get a life back.” As the only candidate to have worked as a road patrol deputy in the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, Alyshia understands these dangers firsthand. To keep our community – including Sheriff’s Office employees – safe, she will create a policy that prevents foot and vehicle chases unless there is an imminent threat to public safety.
  • Holding Corporations Accountable
    Corporate Accountability Crimes Unit Alyshia supports creating a Corporate Accountability Crimes Unit in the Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau that will prioritize corporate wrongdoing and collaborate with the Economic Justice Unit already established in the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office. As part of the Corporate Accountability Crimes Unit, Alyshia will coordinate fraud prevention workshops throughout Washtenaw County, making sure that all communities are protected from scams. The unit will investigate economic crimes such as wage theft, tip theft, and price gouging, as well as environmental crimes, including pollution, water contamination, illegal dumping, and mismanagement of hazardous waste. In 2022, 2.4 million Americans reported being victims of fraud and scams, causing them to lose $8.8 billion – a 30% increase over the previous year. Fraud affects people of all ages, with younger adults being at an increased risk of online shopping and investment scams. Wage theft and labor trafficking are incredibly common and widely ignored by the current Sheriff’s Office administration. Alyshia believes holding corporations accountable for theft and wrongdoing is a public safety issue. In cases where workplace harassment becomes criminal, the Corporate Accountability Crimes Unit will handle these sensitive cases and ensure the safety of victims.
  • LGBTQ+, Disability, and Gender Justice
    Prioritize Gender-Affirming Policies Alyshia supports rewriting jail policies that impact the LGBTQ+ community with the LGBTQ+ community, including policies that place incarcerated trans people at increased risk of not receiving gender-affirming care and increased risk of being placed in solitary confinement. Alyshia will bring the Washtenaw County Jail in compliance with best practices laid out by the National Center for Transgender Equality. This will also include adhering to federal standards requiring the use of a person's lived name and pronouns, which is not a mandate in the current administration's policy. Survivors-Based Justice Fund Often domestic violence survivors risk being homeless and need emergency funding to relocate. Alyshia will prioritize using funds, including grant money, to ensure survivors have options to relocate in domestic violence situations, including funding to leave town if needed to stay with friends or family. Some survivors have support away from the area, but due to the abusive nature of intimate partner violence, including financial abuse, they might not have access to funding to leave. A Survivors-Based Justice Fund can help fill these gaps in emergencies. Revamp Employee Policies to Prioritize Diversity Women and members of the LGBTQ+ community face unique barriers that need to be addressed when working in law enforcement, including ensuring that hiring practices are inclusive. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office is predominantly male, white, and not representative of our LGBTQ+ population. Alyshia will prioritize creating an inclusive work environment to improve retention and focus on eliminating barriers that can discourage diverse candidates from applying. Prioritize Disability Response Training People with disabilities are at a greater risk of experiencing police violence. Alyshia supports partnering with local disability community groups to bring in comprehensive training for employees, especially prioritizing autism.
  • Safeguard Civil Liberties
    Implement a policy against mass surveillance technology, including facial recognition software and license plate readers For every ten license plates that a license plate reader scans, one will be incorrect. These errors can lead law enforcement officers to believe that innocent people are driving stolen vehicles, which can create unsafe and traumatic situations for everyone involved – with reports of children being handcuffed, women being removed from their vehicles at gunpoint, and people being surrounded by police vehicles at gunpoint because a camera misread the number “7” as the number “2”. Even when license plate readers work correctly, they still put vulnerable members of our community at risk. In California, the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation found that 71 law enforcement agencies were sharing personal data gathered from automatic license plate readers with states that criminalize abortions, including data showing which people went to reproductive healthcare clinics. To make matters worse, a 2011 study found that license plate readers did not reduce or deter crime. Alyshia understands the risks that mass surveillance brings to our community, so she led a coalition to stop our current Sheriff’s Office administration and Ypsilanti Township from hiring Flock, an Atlanta-based private tech startup, from installing 60-70 license plate readers in Ypsilanti Township. This coalition of people from throughout our community was successful, preventing the same technology that the ACLU calls “an incredibly invasive surveillance camera system” from coming to our neighborhoods. Alyshia is the sole candidate with a proven track record of successfully advocating to prevent mass surveillance. As Sheriff, she’ll continue this work by implementing a policy that prevents the Sheriff’s Office's use of surveillance technology, including facial recognition software, A.I.-generated body-worn camera transcripts, and license plate readers. Eviction Prevention and the Civil Division Alyshia supports overhauling the Civil Bureau to focus more on eviction prevention and liaison services to reduce housing insecurity. Alyshia will also ensure the safety of people in the Civil Bureau is prioritized along with the rest of the employees.
  • Accountability and Transparency
    The integrity of a police agency starts at the top; Alyshia will be a Sheriff who tells the truth. That’s why Alyshia supports: Sharing detailed information on fiscal spending Sharing use of force data Sharing body-worn camera footage involving critical incidents as soon as possible to increase transparency with the public Creating a grant and finance director position to facilitate communication with partners and the public involving our budget. Creating a public complaint monitoring process Sharing policies and training hours with the public

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