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Monday, October 29, 2012

Portland cop brutality reform: "This time we really mean it"

They waited until Friday afternoon to get up and announce the new agreement between the Portland police and federal authorities on police brutality, and that makes us awfully leery of it. That's the time of the week when they break the news they don't want you to pay any attention to. Maybe the PoPo is hoping that nobody will read the contract, so that nobody will be able to hold them to the promises they're making.

On the surface, the deal sounds mildly intriguing, but we've heard the reform line so many times before -- only to be followed by more senseless police killing without consequences -- that it's hard to be optimistic. Anyway, Willy Week gives a first summary here. Some items that catch our eye right away:

Officers must also only use one Taser at a time, and must attempt to handcuff suspects after each 5-second discharge of the weapon...

The Portland Police Bureau will also create a Crisis Intervention Team of specially trained officers who will respond to all calls suspected to involve mental illness. The agreement will also expand the police Mobile Crisis Unit — a vehicle pairing one officer and a private social worker—to a 24 hour program.

A 15-member Community Oversight Advisory Board will also be created. The city auditor’s office will also hire three new investigators, including at least one with a background in mental health, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade says.

The cost is expected to be $5.8 million in the first year, and includes 26 new staff members in the PPB and six new staff members elsewhere in the city.

We'll see, but we doubt that throwing money and bodies at the problem is going to help it much. Even when the current brass is in the mood to fire an officer for unjustified killing, he eventually gets reinstated with lengthy back pay. And unless it's recorded by a robot,many Portland police officers seem perfectly willing to lie about what they actually do with a Taser.

New investigators in the city auditor's office seem darned interesting, but you can bet the union will be filing a grievance on that one before long. This town needs to be a lot tougher at the bargaining table, but given the stranglehold the government employee unions have on the place, that's not going to happen in our lifetimes.

God rest the soul of James Chasse, who died more than six years ago now. His killer is still at large.

Comments (9)

When you live in a police state you get out of control police.

Our masters like it that way, but they will always been attempting to fool the public into thinking that 'they' care about our 'safety'.

“There are only two choices: A police state in which all dissent is suppressed or rigidly controlled; or a society where law is responsive to human needs. If society is to be responsive to human needs, a vast restructuring of our laws is essential.”

(William Orville Douglas)

"so that nobody will be able to hold them to the promises they're making." What? The agreement is legally binding once the city signs it. It's not a promise. If the city doesn't do what's in the agreement the feds will take them to court and make them do it.

Instead of falsifying a covering up of the issues with a scapegoat and blaming a single cop that due to an on-sight communication failure, a training failure and a management failure pulled the trigger, any personnel firing needs to be from the top (Sammyboy the police commissioner) down.

The first step towards a solution is to get rid of all the tactical armor, redundant weapons, 20 extra mags, MOLLE plate carriers/vests, helmets, and etc. A lot of the attitude comes from the gear (dress for success, right?). I'm willing to bet that most police go their entire career without ever needing to draw their weapon.

Our police are NOT military and they should bear little resemblance in attitude or appearance.

Would a rational person actually confront a policeman and threaten him/her? No and No.

The problem you have is irrational people whether they are high on drugs or not able to think rationally confronting the police and the police have 2 choices--back off or use the force necessary to subdue the person.

I would rather have the police subdue the person and if that takes a little more force than the fine folks of the SoWhat district like, so be it. At least we are all safer.


Thanks for continuing to remind the public about our police problem. Chasse--and all the others--should never have died.

Smith - Who's "we".

That Chris Humphries guy deleted my post on his Facebook page where I called him a murderer and linked to the news reports of his crime. It stayed up for a good 24 hours though.

Abandoning the mentally ill in flophouses, then expect the police and jails,
trained for criminals, to be their baby sitters is just plain wrong, and puts everyone at risk.
Managing and treating mental illness is an entirely different discipline and training. All that has happened was inevitable.

Vote to cut the taxes for the wealthy again though.

Ha Ha Ha! This is going nowhere. Sure - the intellectually/truthinest challenged Mayor and Randy's lapdog (and fellow band member) Police Chief may have said anything they need to say to deter the Feds from indicting them, but the new procedures will not make it through the terms of the labor contract the City has given away to the Police Union. Consider the following:

Clause 3.1 guarantees, "Standards of employment related to wages, hours and working conditions which are mandatory for collective bargaining except those standards modified through collective bargaining shall be maintained at not less than the level in effect at the time of the signing of this Agreement. Any disagreement between the Association and the City with respect to this section shall be subject to the grievance procedure."

In other words, any change of procedure from the status quo has to be bargained. And, we have all seen how well the City does at "bargaining" with the Police Union.

Clause 15.1 states, "15.1 The Police Bureau and the Bureau of Human Resources will furnish the Association with copies of all policies and procedures, special, disciplinary and personnel orders when they are issued. Such materials shall include, but not be limited to, position announcements, job announcements, and training bulletins. When the Police Bureau is contemplating changing its policies and procedures, it shall provide the Association with all drafts of the to-be-amended policies and procedures and provide the Association with an opportunity to comment on the drafts. When the Bureau of Human Resources is contemplating changing its policies and procedures, it shall provide the Association with at least fifteen (15) days’ advance notice of the proposed changes."

Thus, before the City can implement anything (which then has to be bargained - see above), it has to provide a copy of what it (the City) wants to implement. This means before anything begins, the City has to make up its mind what it wants. With a credibility defunct Mayor holding court with four other royals having their own fiefdoms and futures to worry about, this is not possible.

Finally, the biggest hurtle to cop oversight is the 48 hour advance notice the City must give before it can interview a potentially bad cop (see Clause 61). This gives the cop and all his/her cop buddies plenty of time to meet with the Police Union attorney, at the Police Union headquarters, check their notes and "discuss" the events. ;-)

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