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Monday, September 21, 2009

Howdy do

Portland police will now be giving out business cards in their interactions with the public. What's next -- "minty fresh" pepper spray?

UPDATE, 2:14 p.m.: Or maybe they could program their Tasers to play happy little ice cream jingles.

Comments (18)

I like it. Actually, I'd be all for making all armed officers wear big numbers on their sleeves, chest, and shoulders too, like NFL players.

One of the more ominous developments of this post-constitutional era has been the appearance of the ninja turtle cop, a faceless guy with no markings whatsoever in his full battle rattle hardware/facemask etc.

Meanwhile, in what was once known as the Land of the Free, if you so much as wear a Dick Nixon mask to a demonstration you can expect to be in for a lot of special attention and possibly detained, and if you wear a gas mask you can expect to be clubbed.

" Hi, my name is Officer Humphries. I'll be tackling you to the ground today and delivering a series of body blows which may or may not cause fatal injury. Here's my card."

In the case of Humphries, et al., I am reminded of the "death cards" scene from Apocalypse Now, where an Army unit leaves a playing card on the corpse of each enemy dead.

"Let's Charlie know who did this to them."

Why not? After all, they get all your info.

Years ago, I got stopped for speeding in Pennsylvania. The state trooper refused to show me his ID, telling me his uniform was his ID (even though state law allowed me to ask to see his state trooper card with his name and trooper number on it before I rolled down the window). This came after he followed me for five miles, which to my mind seemed suspicious since a young woman had recently been murdered in the area by someone impersonating a trooper (complete with uniform). And I'd never heard of a cop who followed somebody for five miles before they gave them a ticket!

After he wrote the ticket -- yes, I caved and rolled down the window, probably one of the stupidest things I've done -- I immediately drove to his barracks and reported the incident (I lived nearby and knew it was off the next exit). His trooper number WAS on my ticket, as was a totally illegible signature. The ticket got torn up after my complaint -- not that I asked for that because I WAS speeding and admitted that to the barracks commander. But it was determined the trooper's response to my request for ID was 'inappropriate in the circumstances.'

To be fair, he was a rookie and just didn't handle the stop well. But it goes to show that even those of us who for the most part are law-abiding citizens can't blindly trust a uniform.

So why not a business card, preferably with their id number, just in case....

Back in the days of the Iraq War protests here in Portland, there was a sergeant named Martin Rowley who got his rocks off pepper spraying demonstrators (including a couple of 14-year old girls) and generally trying to crack skulls.

He was caught on camera several times spraying people who did not deserve it. (He is now a Commander of the Portland Police Bureau.)

Some friends of mine had a videotape of Rowley during a calm moment where he said with a smile that he routinely gave his business card to anyone who asked for it.

They spliced that scene next to a scene of Rowley pepper spraying and punching a guy. While the victim was wiping his eyes, he asked for Rowley's card and Rowley said "[expletive] NO!"

You know darn well that they are looking for racial profiling. They think that if Officer A has a disproportionate number of minority stops that will give them their 'smoking gun.' Of course, the fact that Officer A patrols a disproportionately minority district will have nothing to do with it at all.

MP, are you saying that (1) racial profiling is not a problem, or (2) that finding out if it's a problem is a problem, or (3) the PPB would be too stupid to correct any stops statistics for racial makeup of the area where the cops' beats are?

I love the "community organizers" hanging out at city council complaining about the racist cops. The fact is, 95% of the shooting victims and suspects in the city are minorities. Fifteen year-olds are running the streets at 2AM with guns. Don't believe it? Do a little research. Parents don't know where their children are and they don't care. They don't hold their kids accountable, and they blame everyone but themselves when the child gets caught assaulting someone on the MAX or carrying a gun in a spiderman backpack.

Honestly, you would be moved to tears if you saw what happens when a sweet but not bright teenager has only twenty year-old felons to look up to. But I guess calling out parents for their complete failure to supervise would not get you voted into office.

This PPB Sergent (M. Rowley) mentioned above
is, to my recollections, one that had a very
serious drinking problem and it goes to show
where the PPB's mismanagement problems seem
to begin as this dude was promoted on up the
ladder to being a Commander. With sails not
fully unfurled, it goes to reason that he'd
be a bit of a misfit don't ye think? What
is handing out a card going to do to help
such a character? Being required to attend
AA would seem far more appropriate I think!

I believe Commander Rowley is now retired.


1. No, RP is not a problem
2. You cannot ever determine RP as long as the PPB has PC to make contact.
3. This has nothing to due with PPB and everything to do with 'community activists' who are upset with PPB for trying to keep those fine young upstanding citizens from blowing each others heads off.

No, RP is not a problem

Just guessing here, but is mp97303 a white person, most likely male?

I have only been racially profiled since living in Portland. It has happened a handful of times in 10 years. The first was the most jarring. I was pulled over in North Portland because the light over my license plate had burned out.

The officer proceeded to request two back up cars for myself and my then 5 year old sleeping daughter. Not realizing the gravity of the situation I asked if we could write the ticket or whatever so before my daughter woke up and got frightened. I never raised my voice, used profanity or anything like that. The cop responded in a LOUD voice "DID YOU SAY YOU HAVE A GUN IN THE CAR, MA'AM?" I asked for his business card, at this point. "I don't have one" he replied. Having friends in law enforcement, I knew he did and said so. Suddenly he hgave me his card, and was suddenly very solicitous talking about how the PPB wants the involvement of law-abiding citizens like myself, etc.

It probably helped that the extent of my criminal history is "California rolling" a stop sign in 1998 and getting a ticket.

My daughter woke up during the stop. She was frightened as was I. Her view of police officers is very different than mine was growing up, because I had many good experiences with police prior to that night and have since. Rogue cops and the police union heads do nothing to further the good works that many in the ranks do. Has anyone ever heard Westerman or King before him, ever say, "Mea culpa"?

JP: seriously? you may want to review your "facts". Or maybe actually get some.

I was pulled over in North Portland because the light over my license plate had burned out.

And there's your reason for being stopped.

Ms. Contrarian,

In many years of law enforcement, I've never seen a stop similar to what you are speaking of, unless there was something else to it. If there was, and the officer did not explain it, then he was wrong. If you are just telling a story to fit your personal opinion, well, I don't know what I can say.

As far as facts go, I'm only out there doing the job and taking these guns from kids. I guess my experience means nothing next to someone that's been pulled over a handful of times in the last ten years. Sometimes I'm wrong and I admit it, but this is not one of those times. I'm sorry you have no real idea of what is happening in your community. If it makes you feel better, you are in the majority.

JP: If there was something else to the stop, the officer certainly never explained it. I imagine if I'd had a record his abuse of power would've been "justified". He was threatening me, plain and simple. There were about 5-6 citizens observing the stop from across the street because there had been an officer shooting of a good samaritan earlier that week. I think that also positively impacted my safety.

I reported the officer to his commander and received an apology. Many people are treated much worse and don't even get that.

I am surprised that you have never seen a stop like that, my friends in law enforcement certainly have. Not every day or every month, even, but it happens. There are a**holes in any workplace, 'cept officers have guns. I don't believe police officer=evil, nor do I believe police officer=Mother Teresa/007 hybrid. Once we get out of that corner, we can move forward.

And I absolutely hate that I have defend the good cops I know because of a HANDFUL of rogues and their apologists.

I mentioned that I had not seen a stop like that unless there was a reason for it. I also said if he did not explain it to you, he was wrong. I'm not sure I understand where the racial profiling accusation came in. Why is this stop an example of racial profiling as opposed to other stops you've had in other cities? Unfortunately, I've had many experiences where people of color will throw out the profiling argument, even in the face of overwhelming guilt. I doubt this was the case with you, as you seem pretty reasonable.

Your other argument was that I should get or review my facts. I stand behind my statements, and I'm sorry if you disagree. I love this city, but the vast majority of it's residents and elected officials have absolutely no idea of what goes on in its streets. President Obama said today during an address to other world leaders, "Nothing is easier than blaming others for our troubles and absolving ourselves of responsibility for our choices and our actions". These types of statements are just one of the reasons I love that dude.

JP, my only stop outside of Portland was when I California'd a stop sign. The officer gave me the equivalent of a fix-it ticket. I worked pretty closely with our police force there. I was skeptical about peoples' reports of "profiling" until I moved here, I'm ashamed to say.

My feeling that it was a profiling stop was how the officer treated me until he figured out I was a good citizen that knew my rights, was not in the wrong and wasnt from here. I didnt know to be afraid.

I want all the kids I know to have the Officer Friendly experience I grew up with. I think Open Houses help, we always go. I remember the memorial walk for Officer Z-man and the great esteem that the NE community had for him. And yes, I get angry about the rogues and the union heads. I don't want anyone taking a shot at my law enforcement friends, due to the bad feelings engendered by the rogues. And I wish that there was a support system for whistleblowers on the force.

I do not believe that 95% of the shooting suspects in PDX are minorities. Please point me to the data.


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