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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2010 7:37 AM. The previous post in this blog was Scenes from a disaster. The next post in this blog is Looted. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Broken record

The Portland police union head says, "It's all the unarmed dead guy's fault."

Comments (19)

But Westerman says a review of the documents released in the case show police on the scene believed Campbell had a gun and that he wanted to be killed because he was upset about the recent death of his brother.

So that's okay then.

I can't be sure about the details of one case but if the union ever, even once, came out and said "hey, we have a bad cop here, this guy needs to be fired. It is a shame but this guy should not be an officer" they would have a lot more credibility in most of our minds. Even ONE time...

You cannot tell me that PPD is the ONLY group of individuals that never, ever, ever, ever has a bad apple or member who has bad judgement. The job is tough and attracts a unique breed of individual. They absolutely have to make big mistakes occasionally or even go bad sometimes.

My father was the managing business director a a trade union in Oregon for a decade and my wife was a criminal defense attorney, so despite my disgust with how the Campbell shooting has played out, I have a different perspective on the idea that a union president should come out publicly and say someone needs to be fired, even if they believe that's true. That's not the role of a union organization. They're paid dues by their membership to protect their members.

On the other hand, in a case like this (and the many other cases where police have acted badly and Westerman and his predecessors have made public pronouncements) slamming the reputation of the person who's been abused or killed is simply wrong, and shows the incredible lack of respect for the public that leads to these incidents.

The people who are responsible for saying someone should be fired are the management: supervisors in the PPD and at City Hall. It's their job to decide who meets the standards of the Bureau and who can't handle the pressure and is likely to fly off the handle, not the union's.

Dave Plant was a rational man and a good labor leader, who was not afraid to admit when his members were wrong. Westerman is a buffoon and a bully and I hope to God that all the good decent cops out there will eventually realize it.

if the union ever, even once, came out and said "hey, we have a bad cop here, this guy needs to be fired. It is a shame but this guy should not be an officer"

I expect that to happen the day after the teachers unions says that about a bad teacher.

...I have a different perspective on the idea that a union president should come out publicly and say someone needs to be fired, even if they believe that's true. That's not the role of a union organization. They're paid dues by their membership to protect their members.

I disagree - a union should look out for the welfare of the body of the membership as a whole, not one individual member.

Jack, speak of the police I see your little 12 year old angel is back bunking on the city's dime. Seems she got a little peeved and set her bedroom on fire.
They just don't make angels like they use to.

I don't think anyone ever made her out to be an angel, PJ. There's no doubt that she's troubled. But I'll argue to the end of my days that 2 or 3 male police officers, with all their training, should be able to subdue a 12-year old without shooting her with ANY sort of firearm from a distance of 3 feet. Disgraceful.

No one should expect Westerman (or any union boss) to ever publicly criticize or condemn any of his members; he would be quickly run out of office (and it could, I suppose, potentially expose the union to legal liability).

But in this case a little sympathy for the victim and a brief acknowledgment of why outsiders might be upset about it would go a long way. He doesn't have to agree with it, or do anything about it, just acknowledge it. That simple act would do wonders for the union's PR.

Actually, in connection with the kids-in-the-control-tower incident a couple of days ago, the air traffic controllers' union criticized its members' alleged actions (albeit mildly). So it can happen:


The National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing controllers, said in a statement, "We do not condone this type of behavior in any way.

"It is not indicative of the highest professional standards that controllers set for themselves and exceed each and every day in the advancement of aviation safety," spokesman Doug Church said in the statement.

If he is just doing his job and we can not expect that he can ever tell the truth about a mistake, why even listen to ANYTHING he says? Just turn off the microphone.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this today, and here's the best I can come up with:

New policy: Anytime a cop kills an unarmed person, he's off the force with whatever pension he's accrued at that point, or none, depending on his years in towards retirement. Anytime an unarmed person dies in police custody from blows, choking, etc. all the cops responsible get the same deal. Strict liability -- you throw down and an unarmed person winds up dead, then you go bye-bye. If there's no criminal charges brought against you, you're free to go find yourself another job anyplace that will hire you -- but you won't work be working to "serve and protect" the people you just deleted one of.

Until cops have a reason to have some standard for shooting other than "by the time you see the gun it's too late," then the rest of us are going to be finding more and more reasons to fear being anywhere near a cop, and that's not the right outcome.

The union is always whining about what a toll killing people takes on cops -- OK, we'll fix that: you won't ever be in that situation again, and you are free to move on down the road (assuming that there's no evidence that you did wrong). You won't have to worry about the mistrust of the populace and you won't have to fear that your reaction time is going to cost you something next time, because there ain't going to be a next time for you. You're done.

It may not sound so fair, but the alternative -- what we have now -- is that cops get to kill unarmed people with zero career consequence. And that's just wrong.


Cool. And in return, cops widows get $50,000,000 when their spouse get killed because they hesitated waiting to see whether or not the object pulled from the waistband of the perp is a cell phone or a gun.

I see your little 12 year old angel

Every time the police respond to charges of brutality with remarks about the general bad character of their victim, they prove that they have no clue what they're supposed to be doing out there. Even if you're arresting the Unabomber, or Jeffrey Dahmer, if he doesn't give you reasonably grounds to think he's going to kill you, you can't kill him. We have judges and prison systems that take care of judgment and punishment. The scared-witless kids we have out there riding around with badges, rifles, shotguns, and Tasers don't get to make that call.

But that's apparently too much for the PoPo and its apologists to understand.

Cool. And in return, cops widows get $50,000,000 ...

Yeah, ok. Civilian dies, cop gets fired. Cop dies, widow gets $50 million. Sounds fair.

Why would the union say any different, that's why the members pay their dues to them!

This is one union that takes no S**T from anyone!

I only wish my union had this sort of power!

that's wishful thinking there "mp97303", if not downright delusional! come on there, do you really think a Portland jury is going to award a cop's wife $50,000,000 after all the BAD PRESS the copsters have brought on themselves and all told and untold stories of ABUSE OF POWER and the known unwarranted Citizen-Killings?|

I disagree - a union should look out for the welfare of the body of the membership as a whole, not one individual member.

John, I don't disagree with that (and thank you, m, for the kind words about my father) but there's a world of difference between what you should acknowledge in negotiations with an employer and what you should say in public when you're in a position like Westerman's.

Now, I don't for a minute think that Westerman's view on the situation is any different than what he's saying. People who have commented on this shooting here have taken exactly the same stand, and they're not paid to represent police officers as a group or individually as Westerman is. So I wouldn't expect any acknowledgment that Officer Frashour was at fault from Westerman. But no union representative should be expected to make some type of statement of guilt of one of their members even in cases where they believe they're guilty. They don't have to say anything at all, but they certainly shouldn't be running down their own members.

Gee, mp, do you think James Chasse's family is really going to get $50 million?

And what do police killed in the line of duty have to do with killing unarmed civilians? If you don't want the risks and stress of the job, don't take the job. The job is to protect and serve, not annihilate.

Before you get your "cop hater" spewer all wound up, let me add that I'm not anti-cop -- a beat cop now a small town chief brought my wife's maid of honor to our little reception after we got married, and we've remained friends all these many years. A number of my closest friends from high school -- the ones who didn't mar their records too badly because they didn't get caught for doing the same things as the rest of us -- became cops and firefighters. I don't wish any of them ill, ever. But I have no problem with them having to be very, very sure of what they're about before they shoot someone, and I would have no problem seeing them prosecuted for real if they beat someone to death like PPB did James Chasse.

There's a cancer on the force and it's the rising terror that comes from knowing that you have to be out among the people who know that you are wearing the same uniform as people who shouldn't be. Unless and until the PPB cleans up its act and is ready to purge itself of some very diseased apples, we need something better than what we've got now. A strict liability, no fault approach would work -- you kill someone unarmed, you don't get to wear the badge in this town any more. It's a far smaller penalty for your mistake than the dead guy paid.


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