Law enforcement veteran looks to engage with community

Rey Reynolds says unity will bring a blessing to Vancouver

Editor’s note: Rey Reynolds is a law enforcement officer with the Vancouver Police Department and is running for the Washington State Senate, 49th District. The views and opinions expressed for this story are his own and do not represent those of the Vancouver Police Department, the city of Vancouver, or its affiliates.

Rey Reynolds always wanted to serve, to protect.

Now, he also wants to help Vancouver heal.

He understands there are African Americans in Vancouver who think the police are bad, the enemy.

Reynolds is an African American. He is also a police officer.

Rey Reynolds, a candidate for Washington State Senate, 49th District, offered his response to fears in the black community in regard to law enforcement. Reynolds has been a police officer in Vancouver for more than 20 years.
Rey Reynolds, a candidate for Washington State Senate, 49th District, offered his response to fears in the black community in regard to law enforcement. Reynolds has been a police officer in Vancouver for more than 20 years.

On Thursday, Clark County Today posted a story and a video, sharing the experiences of four young black men, detailing how they, too, feared what so many others throughout the nation fear. 

“That statement that they are afraid of the police breaks my heart. It hurts me, almost to my core, that they would be afraid of someone who only wants to … protect and defend,” Reynolds said. “My whole goal in life is to see that people live in peace and they can go home at night and sleep well in their beds while people like me roam the street at night, making sure they are safe.”

Clearly, there is a disconnect. 

The men featured Thursday discussed the fear of being pulled over, of having the cops called on them just for going into a store, of becoming the next hashtag. Right here in Vancouver.

“Perception is nine-tenths reality,” Reynolds said. “I’m not discounting their fear. Don’t get me wrong. We acknowledge that fear is real.”

He added, though, that those fears are not based on any data. 

“I am heartbroken that those kids would say such a thing, that they feel that they have to watch out for the police because the police are out there. There is nothing in the statistics showing that they have anything to fear,” Reynolds said.

He was quick to add, though, that the numbers do not mean much to a community that is hurting. Reynolds will defend law enforcement, but he also understands the fear in his own community.

Which is why he wants to talk.

To anyone. 

He will listen, too. 

To anyone.

“How do you address it?” he asked, referring to the narrative. “You get out there and do what we do in Vancouver and Clark County best. We get out there and talk to the kids. We go to places they’re at, at the school, at the games.”

Those willing to talk to Reynolds, he said, will find out he’s just a guy, a man in a uniform. 

“There is no excuse we cannot get out there and engage with the community,” Reynolds said. “We get through the false perceptions through engagement.”

Involve the churches, businesses, mental health professionals, he said.

Reynolds has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, more than 20 in Vancouver. He said it is incumbent on law enforcement members to show the community that they are more than the narrative being pushed by the media.

“It’s not just about giving tickets. It’s not just about arresting people and taking them to jail,” Reynolds said. “What are we? What are police officers? We are peace officers. That means officers who bring peace to a situation. We’re not out there to cause havoc. We bring peace. That’s what I believe we are doing.”

On a daily basis, he said, officers run into chaotic situations when others are running away to safety.

“We have men and women out there who are dedicating their lives to Clark County, to Vancouver, who go out every night, put their lives on the line to serve, protect, and defend the people,” Reynolds said.

He understands that can be difficult for some to comprehend, especially in the past week or so, with the barrage of visuals in the wake of the death of George Floyd. He called Floyd’s death heartbreaking. He noted that the officers involved in Floyd’s death have been charged.

He also encourages peaceful protest. 

However, he said he believes extremists who want to divide the country have taken control of those protests, turning violent.

“What could have been a good protest, a peaceful protest, a righteous protest … has now been co-opted by people who do not really care about this guy at all,” Reynolds said.

Forbes reported on June 3 that a dozen people have been killed nationwide in the riots. Many were black men, including two in law enforcement. Reynolds said he wonders why people do not know the names of Dave Patrick Underwood and David Dorn.
“These men should be heralded for their service,” Reynolds said. “These police officers should be shouted from the rooftops, as examples of good police officers who just happen to be black. Their stories are discounted.”

Reynolds said there is only one reason for the looting and rioting: Lawlessness.

“Maybe they’ll allow it down in Portland. Maybe they’ll allow it up in Seattle. But we must not allow lawlessness to take root in the heart of Clark County,” he said.

He is proud of how Vancouver has responded. While there have been threats of looting and/or vandalism, the protests have been peaceful.

Reynolds said he hopes it stays that way, and he is willing to talk with anyone willing to engage. 

“We are all on the same team,” Reynolds said. “This whole thing, it tries to divide us. We don’t want to be divided. We are one. The Vancouver community is one. Whatever affects one group affects us all. That’s where unity comes in. Where there is unity there’s going to be a blessing.”