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A Sheriff Told Library Staff Not To Call 911 Because They Were Thinking Of Supporting Black Lives Matter

"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."

Posted on July 29, 2020, at 5:25 p.m. ET

Courtesy of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Staff at libraries in Douglas County, Nevada, were considering adopting a diversity statement that proclaimed everyone was welcome inside, that they condemned all acts of violence, and said, "We support #Black Lives Matter."

Then Douglas County Sheriff Daniel J. Coverley sent a letter to the county's public library board of trustees telling members not to bother calling 911 for emergencies at the libraries anymore.

"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 in a letter that was published Monday on the department's website. "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 the letter, Coverley also noted his department "is the only local law-enforcement agency in Douglas County and it is the men and women of DCSO that keep you safe"

The sheriff also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and protests that have erupted across the country and have been mostly peaceful.

"Numerous Black Lives Matter protests have resulted in violence, property damage and the closing of local businesses, sometimes permanently," he wrote. "To support this movement is to support violence and to openly ask for it to happen in Douglas County."

Much of the letter appeared to be copied from another letter sent in June by 11 state attorneys general to congressional leaders in support of law enforcement.

The sheriff's letter drew a slew of responses from residents, prompting county officials to cancel the Tuesday meeting where the board was set to vote on the statement.

Instead, officials said in a statement that Coverley met with the county's library director to discuss the statement and called the confrontation "an unfortunate circumstance of misunderstanding."

Coverley, whose department has committed to still respond to calls at the library, said the letter "was rooted in my belief that these issues need to be openly discussed in a way that values diversity and law enforcement."

"I am passionate about and proud of the work the Sheriff's Office does for all members of this community," Coverley said in the statement. "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."

Although the board statement would have expressed support for Black Lives Matter — which has called for the defunding of police departments and reinvestment into community programs — it did not make any mention of the sheriff's department or any other law enforcement agencies.

"Everyone is welcome at the Douglas County Public Libraries," the proposed statement read. "The Douglas County Public Library denounces all acts of violence, racism, and disregard for human rights. We support #Black Lives Matter. We resolutely assert and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality, and injustice don't belong in our society."

Amy Dodson, library director for the county, told the Reno Gazette Journal the statement was not "anti-police."

"It simply was meant to state our inclusivity at the library, that we are open and welcoming to everyone and we treat everyone equally," she said.

In a joint statement with Coverley issued by the county, Dodson said the two had a "candid conversation" Tuesday.

"We agreed that we both support the people of Douglas County and this may have been an unfortunate circumstance of misunderstanding," she said. "The library respects and supports the work of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and appreciates everything they do to keep our community safe."

County officials said the library board of trustees meeting would be rescheduled.

A spokesperson for the county did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News questions as to whether the board would still consider adopting the statement in its original form.

Correction: Daniel Coverley's name was misspelled in a previous version of this post.

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