A 34-year veteran of Multnomah County Corrections and president of the local chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives is running for Multnomah County sheriff.
Capt. Derrick Peterson, who announced his candidacy Sept. 10, emphasized the need for criminal justice reform and mitigating historic levels of gun violence in the county.
“Reform will only take place if we have a culture shift in leadership and better align the values of law enforcement with the people of Multnomah County,” Peterson said in a statement. “We must restore public trust and a sense of safety for every person we are in service of from the neighborhoods to the schools to the courts.”
Peterson’s announcement lands a day after Multnomah County Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell entered the race. That means two sheriff’s office insiders are now vying to succeed their boss, Sheriff Mike Reese, whose term ends next December.
Peterson’s candidacy makes this the first contested race for Multnomah County Sheriff in more than a decade, when incumbent Dan Staton ran against Sgt. Muhammad Ra’oof in 2010. (Staton had been appointed interim sheriff in 2009 after his predecessor, Sheriff Bob Skipper, failed to earn his state law enforcement certification. Reese was then appointed sheriff in 2016 when Staton resigned. He ran unopposed in 2018.)
According to a recent organizational chart, Peterson heads the auxiliary services division of the sheriff’s office’s corrections branch. In addition to leading the local chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Peterson in 2020 also created the “Standing Together” series for people of color in law enforcement—sworn and non-sworn—to meet and share their experiences.
Last October, Peterson spoke to Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud about his work with NOBLE. He emphasized the role that training plays in criminal justice reform.
“I know it makes a difference,” he said about training. “Meaningful training needs to come about. I think [we need] scenario-based training—real, bona fide scenario-based training as we go through these processes—to make sure that some of our officers who never have dealt with people of color have that experience.”
Peterson has garnered endorsements from criminal justice reform leaders, including state Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene) and Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), who are both members of the Legislature’s first Black, Indigenous, People of Color Caucus, as well as Portland Public Schools board member Herman Greene.
State records show Peterson’s campaign has raised $7,500 to date, including a $5,000 loan and $2,500 in contributions.
Peterson grew up in North Portland and is a graduate of Portland State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in justice administration. He is also a board member of Portland Community College’s social sciences department.