Brad Lohrey, sheriff of Sherman County in Oregon, likes to tell about an older man who summoned an ambulance about once a week, usually in the middle of the night.
When the 911 calls ended abruptly, Lohrey asked his deputies if they knew why. “One of the deputies told me that he started stopping by the gentleman’s house before going off shift. The deputy told me that spending five minutes stopping and talking with the person caused the person to no longer need the ambulance. The gentleman just wanted somebody to talk to.”
For Lohrey, that’s a vivid example of the power of trauma-informed policing, a concept this second-generation sheriff now embraces. Lohrey, a 26-year veteran of law enforcement whose father was also Sherman County’s sheriff, attended a 2016 Trauma and Resiliency Summit at the urging of a member of the Resilience Network of the Gorge, a cross-sector collaboration that grew from MARC funding.
There, Lohrey learned about the Adverse Childhood Experiences study and the long reach of childhood trauma. It changed his mind about policing. “I think the way we do it now is wrong because we just arrest people because we have nothing else in our toolbox to fix the problem,” he said in July 2017. Lohrey began requiring all his deputies to attend at least one MARC-funded training on ACEs, trauma and resilience.