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Monday, November 23, 2009

Reader poll: Have confidence in Portland police union?

The Portland police union is holding a big, bad "vote of no confidence" against the police chief and police commissioner this week -- all because they had the nerve to take Officer Christopher Humphreys, notorious as one of the bureau's most violent employees, off the street before he killed someone else.

It's mildly amusing to watch the union huff and puff like this. Humphreys has essentially been pronounced guilty by Fireman Randy, and the union has already called for Mayor Creepy's resignation. As they now go after Big Pipe Saltzman, they're setting up bad blood with a majority of the City Council. Can a job action be far behind? Never a dull moment in the collective nervous breakdown known as the Adams administration.

It's a fascinating time to watch Saltzman, who's made a career out of keeping his head down. The Goldschmidt mafia made him out to be a courageous hero when he voted for their absurd aerial tram [rim shot]. Let's see if they stand behind him now that he's showing some guts on matters of life, death, and the little people.

In any event, we agree with the union that at a time like this, it's important that everyone's level of confidence be thoroughly aired, and so we invite you to join the conversation by participating in the following reader poll:

Do you have confidence in the Portland police union?
pollcode.com free polls

Comments (21)

I don't have confidence in ANY union. But these guys are the bottom of the barrel.

Time for PPB to implement their version of NYPD "drive by policing." Let the criminals run the city. Or do they already?

Given that this entire story revolves around Chasse, how is it that the EMT's and jail medical staff have escaped your vitriol. Has there been a call to fire the EMTs? The jail staff?

Get rid of the whole lousy lot:

The first three voters will have to handle. The last three seem pretty entrenched for any local power to have any effect over...

Re: "they're setting up bad blood with a majority of the City Council"

And what is the problem with that? You would prefer an amicable alliance between the PPB and the Gang of Miscreants holding sway over the obsolescent gesture toward democracy called the Portland City Council?

Maybe we could get 70 citizens to stand in front of this building, so the PPA could hear our no confidence vote in their union leadership?


Has there been a call to fire the EMTs? The jail staff?

The EMT's aren't public employees are they? The EMT's and the jail staff presumably didn't participate in beating a man to death, did they? Nobody from either of those groups were on the scene when Chasse was beaten, were they?

Jail staff and EMTs may have been negligent in their evaluation of Chasse's injuries -- although it's unlikely that the police involved were entirely forthright in their description of how they'd treated him ("Yeah, we kicked him in the ribs and the head a bunch of times...") -- but there's a decided difference between active participation in beating someone or watching someone get beaten and a later failure to recognize the extent of the beating. From what I remember of the stories, the jail staff told the police Chasse needed to go to the hospital and they were able to make that determination without even examining him. Considering that he died in the car, that seems as if it was a pretty accurate assessment.

Saltzman agreed that Nice should be suspended for failing to require Chasse be taken to a hospital after he was stunned with a Taser, and for not briefing ambulance paramedics appropriately or fully about the police struggle and use of the stun gun against Chasse.


""It does not appear that any Bureau member made sure that the medical personnel on the scene received all of the available information before medical personnel cleared Mr. Chasse to be transported to jail in the officers' police car,'' Saltzman said.

The EMT's reported his vital signs as NORMAL. Either they are incompetent and should be fired before they harm anyone else, or he was fine at the scene, a scenario that is unlikely given what was reported.

How many nurses do you know that confronted with someone who must have been near death would turn them away. None that I know. The minute the jail nurse saw Chasse, they should have at least checked his vitals before sending him away. If he was as bad as claimed, they could have possibly provided life saving measures while waiting for an ambulance.

I understand the PPAs position. They had an agreement with the chief for discipline which was over-ridden by Saltzman and is now perhaps out of bounds of the contract.

Clearly Saltzman was responding to pressure to be more attentive, articulate, assertive. He may have made a mistake. I assume contract challenges are mediated and Humphreys could be back on duty before the no confidence vote is collected.

But the question of confidence with PPA misses the point. They serve their purpose and are only answerable to their members.

At issue is who is now preparing for the police union contact negotiations in Spring? Who is the political contact? How is the community and its concerns be surveyed? What are the items to be negotiated? Use of Force? Disciplinary process? Pension fund audit? Who is the item-by-item negotiator for the city?

Do we, the people, have confidence that our best interests will be served in the negotiating process?

Since when does the union have the prerogative of calling for a no-confidence vote on management? This is not a parliamentary democracy. I am sorry they don't like being told what to do, but their vote should be considered in the self-serving context in which it is conducted.

I am appalled that the policeman's union should stand "shoulder to shoulder" with a force that has shown such utter disregard for the welfare of the citizens they have vowed to protect. From stomping James Chasse to death, to tasing a 75 year old blind woman, to firing a shotgun bean bag at point blank range at twelve year old, it is quite clear that the only people these officers want to protect are themselves.

how is it that the EMT's and jail medical staff have escaped your vitriol

The performance of the jail staff has already been addressed; Multnomah County settled their part of the case. Don't know about the EMTs, who are not public employees.

I'm generally pro-union. Grew up in a Teamster house, was a Teamster myself when I worked for UPS in college. But Westerman is a prime example of why police forces should not be unionized. A belligerant, bull-headed defense of a problematic employee is one thing when he's in a warehouse or on an assembly line. It's completely different when the questionable employee is granted a monopoly of force, the legal right to use weapons and tactics that injure and kill others in the name of protecting the people he is sworn to defend.

This thin-blue line cr*p is dangerous, endears no one to the union's cause, and is an affront to Westerman's real employers, the voters and taxpayers of Portland.

how is it that the EMT's and jail medical staff have escaped your vitriol.

Actually, the jail nurse was first one who had enough common sense and competence to realize that Chasse was almost dead. The EMTs, on the other hand, should be sued for many millions.

This is really harshing Saltzman's re-election buzz. He's going to have a hard time following his standard m.o.:

1. Do nothing for 3.5 years.

2. [Real challenger appears]

3. Come up with some feel good measure to show the City how much he does for them: Ex. A: Children's Health Fund; Ex. B: Rosa Parks Blvd.

I'm sure he's bummed that he's going to have to make a "brave" decision that might make some people upset. Who knows, we might even see the expression on his face change.

Probably not the smartest idea to put Humphries on Tri-met patrol, one of the most volatile assignments in town. Ask any cop. Pin that one on management.

Given the circumstances we will most likely find that Humphries worked within the framework of protocol. What was he supposed to do, put the bean-bag gun down to help his partner? An officer was on the ground struggling, and he fired according to training (close range: at a limb and at an angle). It’s a little unfair to call out a cop by saying it was just a twelve-year-old. It was a 5’7” 160lb person who struck an officer and resisted arrest who happened to be twelve. Where were her parents? (Probably home lawyering up.)

Scott Westerman might be over-reacting, perhaps to prove a point. Perhaps after a bit of time cooler heads will prevail all around. If so, I am betting you’ll find Humphries cleared and back on the job sooner rather than later, pray it’s on a less risky beat.

Hey, you missed the best part - Humphreys is going to claim stress disability.

If he pulls it off, you may be rid of him at a small price - Lifetime full pay and no need to go to work at all.

Thank you PFDR and Randy!

I am curious how Randy's going to paint himself in this one. Kinda hard to see him being union buddy in private and police attacker in public.

"Since when does the union have the prerogative of calling for a no-confidence vote"

I thought any time they want? It's not really binding after all - More of a significant gesture.

Humphries is going to be fired. He's already been told as much. Any other officer involved in the same situation would not be fired. The use of force was within policy. That is the issue. If they wanted to punish him for Chasse, then punish him for Chasse.

And folks, this is not your twelve year old daughter. She has been part of and seen more violence and crime than any ten of you that can afford internet connections.

And folks, this is not your twelve year old daughter. She has been part of and seen more violence and crime than any ten of you that can afford internet connections.

Bingo. This wasn't her first contact with the cops. And they probably knew what was coming. One gets the feeling in six years we're going to read an article which contains the sentence "she was involved in a 2009 incident in which she was shot in the leg by a beanbag." This isn't your average 12-year-old. This isn't the last time she'll be heard from.

That said, Humphreys seems to have a knack for being involved in incidents like this. Just as cops tend to see the same people doing the same things over and over, so too it is with Humphreys and use of force. He needs to find another line of work.

And folks, this is not your twelve year old daughter. She has been part of and seen more violence and crime than any ten of you that can afford internet connections.

If you think the kind of behavior this girl — and yes, she's a girl — is restricted to people without internet connections then God (and I'm an athiest) help you if you have children.

Yeah, most kids in trouble are poor, but that's in part because there's a lot of poor people. Being middle class doens't mean your kids aren't going to get in trouble with the law by the time they're twelve, though, even if you're a good parent. Stuff happens. Kids make mistakes — sometimes horrible mistakes — and somewhere deep down in the core of our legal system there was once the realization that that was the case, which is why children are treated differently than adults. Some kids, yes, are actually little monsters, but again, that's hardly limited to a particular social class, race, or creed.

I had a funny moment making coffee this morning, thinking...

What if...

A group of Latino kids who ride the max had become hip to Humphries- who he was, what he was famous for, and had concluded through the grape/cell phone vine of youth that he was a serious redneck. Then, a plot was hatched. Let's get 12 year old wild-child Marilisa, who's really got guts and isn't afraid of nothing, and is in serious trouble at home with her mom, to get in a fight with the cop, while we take video with our cell phones. Then Humphries will really get in trouble and Marilisa will be famous for trying to punch out the most famous redneck cop in the Pacific Northwest...andale, chingado!

Wild children often make perfectly sensible adults. I'm praying for her, to the sylvan god of wild children.

There's been some apparent ballot stuffing in our poll today. Earlier in the day, the vote was more than 80% no with more than 300 votes cast. Suddenly many, many yes votes appeared, bringing the total down to 65% no at this hour with about 470 votes cast.

Creepy and desperate, is what it looks like.

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