A message from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
This past weekend, we collectively witnessed an outpouring of rage and sadness at the death of Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota. The civil unrest that ensued roiled our cities and caused many of us to reflect on the state of our country and the role that we each play.
We each have our own unique and diverse background that shapes our feelings about these events. We won’t all have the same opinion and the purpose of this correspondence is to recognize that we are all struggling to make sense of what is happening through conversations in our homes and in the workplace. Responsible dialogue is welcomed as a way to learn and heal as we move forward and the invitation is to truly listen to the varying experiences that people may be having at this time.
As an agency with commissioned law enforcement officers, some of whom responded to calls for help in Seattle as part of the rioting, we bear an ongoing responsibility to serve all citizens with integrity and accountability. This service is often dangerous and the pressure on WDFW officers increases in times like these when all officers may be seen as part of the problem. We can all be proud of our WDFW officers and know that they have been chosen for their integrity and commitment to our mission.
After conferring with EMT, we believe there are two parts to addressing what is happening. The first is the need to continue to serve Washington, in all its diversity, with excellence. Our core values of Accountability, Service, Professionalism, Integrity, Respect, and Empathy are the foundation we rely upon as we interact with our public.
The second part focuses internally. We are committed to encouraging all WDFW staff to act when actions contrary to our values arise - including racism. We value human life and respect each individual and will act when these are at risk. It is important for each of you to feel empowered to intervene when you witness something wrong happening. If we don’t treat each other in alignment with our core values, then it is more probable we will fail in our interaction with our public as well. Let our values provide guidance and support in our interactions with each other as we find our path forward.
Here at WDFW, your morale, health and safety is our highest priority. To that end, take advantage of the services that your HR Consultant and your DEI office can offer. The DEI Office offers training on making your worksite more diverse and inclusive. We began providing Bystander Training in the last few years – and we need to do more. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can also help with a wide range of issues and provide confidential support to you.
We are an organization that is learning how to engage a broader and more diverse constituency in fish and wildlife management and conservation. We are becoming an agency that can discuss inclusion and equity in the workplace and for the diverse communities we serve. We are convening the Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) later this week to help us navigate this moment and explore how best to appreciate and value people who have different backgrounds and perspectives.
We at WDFW can be part of the solution - let us continue to pull together to listen with empathy, act with integrity, and respect all people. It takes all of us.
Department of Fish and Wildlife
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