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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fury's gonna take us to the glory goal

So, what's it going to take to clean up the Portland police? We all know it's a task that's long overdue.

Forget about the City Council doing it. They won't. They're institutionally incapable. If the council could do it, the council would have done it by now.

Forget about Fireman Randy doing it. Oh, he'd like control over the police bureau, all right. He'd like control over everything. But once he was put in charge of the bureau, he wouldn't stand up to the police union. Remember where he came from. He's the biggest public safety union cheerleader you could imagine.

Forget about the county D.A. doing it. Police who kill while on duty have never been prosecuted in Portland, and they never will be so long as Mike Schrunk is the D.A. And even after he lets go of his job, it's about a 1 in 100 chance that his successor will be any different.

Forget about the state attorney general doing it. He wants to be governor, and rocking this particular boat wouldn't help get him that job. In case you haven't noticed, he's not been real big on the boat-rocking in his first 14 months in office.

Forget about the U.S. attorney doing it. Right now, there's a caretaker in that position (a good buddy of the state attorney general, coincidentally), and the top item on the job description of the U.S. attorney from Oregon has always been not to make waves.

Forget about the state legislature doing anything. And if they did, they'd probably get it backward.

No, from our vantage point, it's crystal clear that this is going to take the majority of the voters in Portland, and some brave, energetic souls among the citizenry who are willing to give a year or two of their lives to a serious effort to reform the city code, and probably the charter, as regards the police. There needs to be serious civilian oversight over the police -- not the muddled mess we have now. And that means crafting a package of new rules that the average person in the city will embrace. It entails collecting the thousands of signatures it will take to force these measures onto a citywide ballot. It includes hiring smart lawyers to make sure that what gets passed stays passed. And like everything in politics, it's going to take some fairly serious money.

Most of all, there will need to be endless patience and resolve among city residents as the police union stages job actions, throws other tantrums, and takes its vicious swipes at the people who spearhead real reform.

One thing is certain: If the police bureau is going to get fixed -- and that's a big "if" -- it is not going to be by government, from the inside out.

Comments (27)

Is Rev. Jackson here to help us get out of this muddled mess? If the Mayor invited him, is the City paying for his time and expenses?

I agree. The only way change will be imposed on the police bureau is if citizens of Portland shed their traditionaly apathetic ways and get active. They need to get out in the streets together, attend meetings, write letters. They need to do this continually for weeks or even months on end.

Having lived here a long time, though, I don't think our citizens are capable of carrying out a sustained campaign for police reform. They didn't activate when James Chasse was beaten to death by police a few years ago, and they didn't sign petitions for an election to recall Sam Adams.

No, my guess that this will all blow over in a few weeks and we'll be focused on other issues. Until another Portland cop beats or shoots a man to death. Then the cycle will begin again. Our hopes for reform will rise once again, only to be drowned in the cold, deep waters of our collective apathy.

First, Jack, way to stay on this. It's so disturbing that I'm having trouble plunging in here.
I did want to comment on the many people making fun of Jesse Jackson.
Hey, I would have loved to see Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. out here responding to this but he was killed.
America is on a wretched road right now. I blame part of it on the "just keep me safe" crowd that emerged as a force during the Bush Years.
We've given up so much in the name of so-called security that we are all less safe - even the police.
What happened to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
Shooting an unarmed man in the back is a lot of things. I don't think anyone said it was a brave thing for the cop to do.
So now that we haven't responded to this, Jesse Jackson's out here and they're lining up to make fun of him.
Listen to Stevie Wonder's song "Big Brother":
"You've killed all our leaders,
I don't even have to do nothin' to you
You'll cause your own country to fall."

That's the most ironic thing about the "Just keep America safe" crowd. They're the worst threat that ever happened to America.
The only thing the terrorists regretted about Bush and Cheney is that they couldn't serve another term.
And now President Obama is working diligently to study options to keep doing all the same things.
What have we become here?

Amen! But who will do it?

"Amen! But who will do it?"

Aaah, the Portland creed. :)

This state is going to remain "broken" both fiscally and functionally as long as public employees are able to unionize. Unions only make sense when they can negotiate with an opposing force (profit driven management).

I say we get it over with. Fully account for the pension liabilities we have, declare insolvency or bankruptcy and hit the re-set button.

We can start by attending the rally set for noon today at the justice center. Things will not begin to change until some of our white faces start showing up. This is a community issue,lets not allow the safe crowd to make it a race issue. I'll be there today.

m, I agree. I am no fan of the police and as outraged by recent killings and lack of accountability as anyone.

But I don't find this visit by Jackson and the type of rhetoric he injected yesterday to be very productive. He was trying pretty hard to make this a race issue, rather than an issue of cop accountability.

Picking a race fight will cause the lines to be drawn fast and hard. And I think a lot of progressive Portlanders might be surprised and disappointed to find out where people come down on the issue when it is framed in this way.

The Campbell and Chasse killings were both hate crimes. Jackson showed up. What did any of you so eager to put him down do? You all need to sign yourselves with the right initials after your names: JGS (just go slow). We all know that that means. It's French for next cousin to KKK.

Jack is 100% correct about this situation in this post.

Jackson did not show up when Chasse was killed. He's nothing more than a race-baiting opportunist.

When Jackson shows up, it has a lot more to do with Jackson than the subject at hand.

Hope he enjoyed the Blazer game!

Jack is probably right about Leonard, but I think he should be offered the police commissioner's job anyway. He's talking a lot tougher than Saltzman, so why not challenge him to back up his words with action. At the very least, it would shake things up a bit. Sizer would most likely resign immediately.

I'm glad to see you slamming the system JB, and not the officers there, personally. Not that they don't deserve it, mind you. Reform then is the word of the day. If the general public sees that an officer escapes justice, they usually don't look into the 'why'. We've all seen it a million times now. This officer was not found to be in violation of any rules. Now, the general public reacts to this as though the rules have been ignored and preferential treatment has been handed out. They never seem to question the rules.

The statement, "The officer(s) followed the rules to the letter.", seems to fall on deaf ears. This isn't special treatment, this is an example of totally f**ked policy. Yet, the debate remains in the personal realm due to human nature, I guess. Yes, it's entirely possible that an offending officer was following the rules, AND misbehaving, or acting without justice. That's bad rules, not bad cops, per se.

As far as 'bad-rules' go, we've got a litany. The shocker is the extent to which the authorities seem to want to give these often unconstitutional policies MORE teeth, instead of doing away with them. Here we are talking poorly of the actual police, while our city is blossoming Pinkerton men like Rodies, and Roses. The PBA wanted higher levels of service from the city, and the police, in order to 'clean up' downtown and make it more shopper friendly. The city said they couldn't afford it, so what does the PBA do? They hire a bunch of security guards, give them firearms, and set them loose on public property downtown. They got called on it, and instead of ceasing the practice, simply bully the city into allowing their Pinkerton men access to public training programs, presumably to legitimize their Pinkerton's.

Furthermore, the city joined in the fun and did the same thing with parks personnel. The cops are in a union, and there is citizen over-site, as it were. Armed people outside of the authority of these two bodies are now policing Portland streets. A far greater public emergency than cops and Grand Juries, IMO.

So, make that two issues. We have a PPB completely off it's chain, and a whole body of Pinkerton men running amok while we fret over the actual cops.

'Why' is simple. The people running our city are from other cities that have other problems. I saw Michelle Poyourow, formerly of the BTA, say in comments once that she would not sign off on a CRC bridge-plan without the assurance there'd be 24 hour camera surveillance of ped/bike facilities, and a special police detachment to patrol it. This type of over-the-top public safety hysteria is causing the whole problem. And it is our authorities whom are hysterical.

Get these ninnies out of City Hall. Get Portland City Code control out of the unilateral-zone, and into a more committee-style environment. And lastly, oust Randy Leonard, as he's the most common source of these draconian bs policies in the first place.

I think I saw something to the effect that the actual grand jury transcript is going to be released. At least then we will find out what the magic words are that they are using to defeat justice in that venue.

dyspeptic, WW's James Pitkin reported this morning:

While all attention has been focused on the PPB, it should be recalled that the euphemistically title Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), currently in Ms Fritz's portfolio, has a role in this, although what that role should have been or should be remains largely lost in the incompetence of omission and distraction.

Sorry Bog, I admire your passion but the local populace just doesn't care.

A big verdict in the Chasse case may change that.

Police Commissioner Saltzman should be indicted for Negligent Homicide of Mr. Campbell. As the Grand Jury information makes clear, the final bullet was the result of incompetence and NO training. Saltzman has been fully aware of these problems and has chosen to do nothing. His neglect lead directly to the needless death of an innocent man.

Police Commissioner is not just a cool thing to add to the resume. It is the people's trust to manage the police power. Saltzman used that deadly power against a citizen with no justification.

The Reverends Jackson and Sharpton were contacted by the family of the deceased. I know that the commentors are NOT suggesting that they, as armchair observers, are more qualified to decide who invite to advocate for a DEAD son than his mother?

Also, had James Chasse not had white, middle class non-mentally ill relatives and advocates. . . .his case would've buried alongside Jose Mejia Poot.

Race is a factor, as is mental illness and in some cases developmental disabilities. Anyone perceived by the officers to somehow be less than, will be treated as subhuman. James Chasse's mental health condition and "appearance" took away any privilege his race or class background may have offered him. Remember all of the lies the officers on scene told the concerned citizens about the circumstances around his arrest? That he was on crack?

I discussed my one megative police experience where I was threatened by an officer when I asked for business after a "routine" (burned out license plate light) stop during which he behaved inappropriately. Said may and please, no yelling or profanity. He responded "Did you say you have a GUN in the car, ma'am?" I remained calm, eventually got the card and made a complaint to his commander. Which probably did nothing. As a black woman, who has lived in other larger cities. . . I never felt so afraid for myself or my kid who was 6 at the time and in the car. Her view of the police was forever changed and much more cynical than mine. I have never been arrested to this day. And I know there are good cops on PPB, but I can't chance my life on all of them. Especially as long as they protect the bad apples.

Jack - why has no one challenged Mike Schrunk in 30+ years? I know it's a bad job and all, but that's a long time.

We sustained Chasse because it's an immaculate case - as clean as I have seen of this sort. Campbell is not the same, but advocacy in the media, and to a lesser extent the community organizing practice, is cumulative.

What I thought about at Maranatha last night was that I was invited into the room with the ministers, into the strategy session. A white guy, an atheist, a loose cannon, a guy who represents a disenfranchised group - crazy people - long stigmatized by the black community. I was in the room.

In the African American civil rights timeline, the NAACP for persons with mental illness hasn't been launched yet. We're in about 1925. There are still occasional lynchings, or as Jackson called it, "executions." We're the most discriminated against community in the world. Our Martin Luther King gets born in about ten years. Maybe. I won't live to see our Barack Obama.

But last night I was in the room.

"While all attention has been focused on the PPB, it should be recalled that the euphemistically title Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI), currently in Ms Fritz's portfolio, has a role in this, although what that role should have been or should be remains largely lost in the incompetence of omission and distraction."

Gardiner Menefree, what do you mean? What does ONI have to do with it?

Who funds the judgment if any for Chasse? Does the city have any kind of excess cover?

Confused, start here:

Part of ONI's "mission" is, apparently, "Crime Prevention," although what that entails, aside from a bloated budget and undefined productivity measures, remains obscure, leaving most of this city's residents, like you, "confused."

Ordinary language might suggest that ONI could have something to do with cohesiveness among city residents, which might well prove useful in confronting the very tangible problems of law enforcement and public safety that do seem to be worsening. But ordinary language fails when it comes to ONI.


Last I read the Risk management (government speak for "insurance") stuff, the City funds the first $ 2 million of any judgment, and has "excess lianbilityy" coverage with a group of insurers for anything over that.

Despite a lot of the finger pointing and name calling on here about the City Attorney's Office's tactics,e.g. change of venue motion, the actual shots in the Chassee case defense are being called bu the insurance folks. The excess liability coverage contracts require the City to "co-operate" in any defense, and allow the insurer to walk on any judgment or claim defense if the city doesn't do so.

In a related development -- the 2006 Taser incident in which Mr Frashour was so prominent:

Tip o' the hat for the Laura Nyro reference, especially given the context. Sometimes I worry she'll be forgotten too soon.

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