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Monday, December 18, 2006

The other side of the coin

A reader writes:

There is an item on KGW, way down the page with just a link, about a police officer injured by a suspect. This officer, Scott Westerman, used to be one of the neighborhood liaison officers in SW. He is an outstanding example of everything that is good in the Portland Police bureau. He's honest, open, hardworking, and caring. He's worked with the neighborhoods on issues outside of direct crime prevention and control, such as helping us in our efforts to curb loud jake braking by trucks on I-5. He was recently honored at a reception by SW Neighborhoods, Inc., as he moved to his new assignment.

We hear so much about problems with police handling of suspects. Please consider posting about this tragedy, to honor Scott and hopefully increase the numbers of people hoping and praying for his recovery, as well as to help people recognize our good officers are at risk in their daily jobs.
You know, reader, I had lost sight of that. Thanks for the tip, and thanks and best wishes to Officer Westerman.

UPDATE, 12:38 p.m.: KGW has now moved the story way up on its web page.

Comments (14)

There seem to be some conflicting stories here. See Blogtown for a different take on this.

On behalf of Scott Westermans around the world who have been watching our brother's career with pride, please pass along our best wishes for a speedy recovery. You can't keep a Scott Westerman down.

Is there an email address he reads where we might send a note?

Scott Westerman
Des Moines, Iowa

See Blogtown for a different take on this.

No thanks.

The Blogtown post raises an interesting hypothetical. Imagine an industrious blogger nobly opining away at a local coffee shop on a laptop. A thief snatches the laptop and bolts out the door. A cop witnesses the theft and gives chase, but returns to the coffee shop empty handed. The cop tells the blogger, "I'm sorry, but the only way I could have stopped him was by pushing him down, and he could have been hurt. So he got away."

Does the blogger:

a. Commend the cop for his restraint - it was only a laptop, after all;

b. Commend the cop for his restraint and, upon obtaining a replacement laptop, blog about the virtue of PDX cops;

c. Scream epithets at the cop for not shoving the thief down and stomping on his head in order to get the laptop back; or

d. Throw scalding espresso into the cop's eyes while screaming epithets and, upon obtaining a replacement laptop, blog incessantly about the lazy PDX police who have no respect for private property?


Latest update from someone who visited Scott, is that his neck isn't broken but he may have re-injured his back - recently healed from surgery. He has a broken facial bone (not his jaw), broken finger, and had two teeth knocked out.

Not many of us go to work each day with the understanding we may be seriously hurt like this, in the course of doing our job. It's pitiful that the Blogtown entry tries to make it Scott's fault that the suspect ran away. I know Scott from his community liaison work, and I have the utmost respect for him as an outstanding human being - truly one of Portland's finest. I'm sad he's injured and wish him a speedy recovery.

On the bright side: the perps family PROBABLY won't sue the officer or the City.

I know three officers who were murdered on the job, and another who became a parapalegic. I have very little sympathy for anybody who refuses to comply with the officer's verbal commands.

If you shoot at a cop, then I believe Islamic Justice (aka "Sharia Law")


should apply. Recidivism rates don't get much lower.

It's pitiful that the Blogtown entry tries to make it Scott's fault that the suspect ran away.

The Merc kids are just trying to do their jobs, but they do sometimes come off as reacting in kneejerk fashion, on the assumption that everything the police do is bad and covered up with lies.

On another level, it's telling that cases like Chasse brand the entire force with a presumption of brutality in many people's eyes.

Jack and others:

Yes, I will admit that the police force as a whole is tainted by the recurring theme of excessive force that I've seen.

I'm sure that there are good cops who choose how much force to use based on the limited information they have. I'm sure that there are cops who just try to do the job in front of them.

But there are some who go too far.

The problem as I see it is that I can't tell the difference just by looking at them, so I have to make some assumptions first. I tend to mistrust authority in general, and authority with force in particular, and especially the (again, as I see it) local government, which tends to act first to protect its own power, rather than protect the public interest.

That's not the assumption you or others make. Great. I also realize that my assumption carries consequences in my dealings with the police. I've been able to live with that to this point.

And Sheef, if you're still reading, I'll be replying to your comment, on its own terms, on my own blog...

Actually, Jack and Amanda, Matt's Blogtown post had nothing to do with whether Sgt. Westerman was responsible for his own injuries or the suspect running away--but with the bureau changing the story. In the initial press release, the PIO said Westerman was injured when he fell over the suspect. When Matt asked how, exactly, he fell, the PIO said it was because Westerman pushed him to the ground, then tripped over him.

It's a small-ish detail, sure, but given recent history, we think people might have a right to be concerned about the bureau cherry picking the information it chooses to release to the media--especially when it comes to "tripping" vs. "pushing." No one was denigrating Westerman or the work he does. (Well, perhaps in the comments, but we don't have a policy of censoring our readers.) But we are deeply concerned when the bureau releases a half-truth, and then the television media outlets run the story verbatim without asking any questions.

That doesn't seem like a kneejerk reaction to me. And we do sincerely hope Sgt. Westerman has a speedy and full recovery.

It's a small-ish detail, sure,

You got that part right.

My god, people run from the police and get pushed down? Let's make sure that information doesn't get out to the public. Quick, gloss it over with the old "tripped" ruse. That gets em' every time! Keep diggin' Blogtown, with hard hitting investigations like this, I'm sure that Oregonian job will come up sometime soon.

the assumption that everything the police do is bad and covered up with lies.

Sounds more like Indymedia...

WOMAN POLICE SHOT `NOT RIGHT' December 16, 1996, Oregonian

A Southeast Portland woman who was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday claimed that the FBI and CIA were after her, said a paramedic who survived being shot at by the woman.

Kurt Ream, 39, said Portland firefighters arrived first to help Patricia Sweany, 45, a Welches resident who called 9-1-1 saying she had been poisoned.

When Ream tried to talk to her, she told him, `` `I'm not going anywhere,' '' he said. ``By the look in her eye, I could tell something wasn't right.''

Ream called Portland Police for help, and officer Scott Westerman arrived and approached Sweany at the front door. Ream followed them into the house at 3755 S.E. Stephens St.

Sweany touched Westerman on the chest, and he told her to stop, Ream said. She continued. Westerman began to handcuff her, Ream said.

``She was talking about the CIA and FBI being after her and her car bombed,'' said Ream, who has worked for American Medical Response Inc. for three years.

Ream said he reached to help the officer when Sweany pulled a .38-caliber revolver from her waistband and fired at him. As he reached to take the gun away from her, Westerman shot her in the upper torso.

Ream said he ran toward the ambulance believing thinking he had been shot. He discovered that the key chain holder on his belt had stopped the bullet.

Police said Westerman, 30, was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

The Oregonan this morning is reporting tha Westerman has been released from the hospital, and had not broken his neck.

Scott is a personal (not professional) friend, and that is good news to me

Scott and his family have had a rough year. His ouse burned down in late spring / early summer.

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