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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Feds tell Portlanders what we already know

Breaking news from our fearless U.S. attorney: Not enough public resources are being devoted to helping mentally ill people in Portland, and the city's police force includes quite a few mean goons:

-- Police encounters with people with mental illness "too frequently result in a use of force when force is unnecessary or in the use of a higher level of force than necessary or appropriate, up to an including deadly force."

-- Police used Tasers in situations where use of a stun gun "is not justified" or fire Tasers repeatedly when only a single shot is justified.

-- Despite policies limiting use of force to what is reasonably necessary to accomplish a "legitimate government objective," Portland police "use more force than necessary" in making arrests for low-level offenses of suspects in mental health crises.

The report cites, for example, a May 2011 case in which an officer punched an unarmed suspect in the face seven times when making a welfare check on him.

Anything else? No? Then go by streetcar, my federal friends. Give us a call back if you ever decide to indict a cop. For anything.

In the meantime, the chief has an advisory council, don't you know. We're putting our best people on it.

Comments (13)

At the press conference the mayor cites the new police training center as the solution to all the problems. I am starting to think that there is nothing that a real estate deal can't fix in this town...

The City of Portland is run by a powerful coalition of incompetence and evil.

Jack you left out hubris.

Of course making police responsible for the crisis care of the mentally ill is wise social policy. Or at least cheaper than real solutions.

Not enough public resources are being devoted to helping mentally ill people in Portland. Sam says "I don't need no stinking help with my mental illness"!

Yes, an anticipated disappointment. These are common sense conclusions.

Here's what wasn't addressed:

1. Why 'communities of color' get a ongoing sidebar and communities of persons with mental illness do not. Sadly we've been invited to meet with the DOJ tomorrow with county contractors to figure out a 'solution.'. Checklist noted; we'll send our attorney. Civil claims remain our favorite tactic for change.

2. No extrapolation. Is this a Portland phenom or just what under-managed cops do everywhere? We bet the rent on just about everywhere.

3. No recommendation for a mechanism to separate dangerous officers from public service. Not a peep.

Randy is too busy with fluoridation and outdoor loos, and Sam is too busy entertaining underage boys in the toilets of city hall to be concerned about whether or not the PoPos are beating up people.
Seems like they could both use a good dose of mental health assistance themselves.
109 and counting down...to Char-LIE or Jeffy the ball buster?

3. No recommendation for a mechanism to separate dangerous officers from public service. Not a peep.

I think the only recommendation is "wait until the next union contract." Because given recent arbitration decisions, doesn't seem like it is at all possible to get rid of bad apple cops, sadly.

Heard Creepy on the Mark and Dave show yesterday:

1. He "invited" the USDOJ to undertake this review.

2. The USDOJ conclusions and recommendations prove that Portland is on it's way to becoming THE BEST local law enforcement provider IN THE COUNTRY.

3. He sounds like be believes both 1 and 2 above, which is the really scary part.

Will see how his opinion changes the next time they catch him with his pants down.

As many of you know, psychiatrists are in short supply, and psychiatric beds in secure facilities and hospitals are even more scarce. Psychiatrists get paid by insurance cos. and Medicare the same rate as an office visit by a general practitioner. They are specialists but do not perform procedures which make more money. To have a patient admitted to a hospital for an evaluation in an emergency, you have to call around to see which one has a bed available in case hospitalization is needed, and then go to that emergency room no matter how far. And the cost of drugs can be prohibitive, especially since many effective ones are new and only available as expensive brand name pharmaceuticals. It's crazy. And in the end, our country protects an individual's right to choose to accept help. They have a right to be crazy, which sounds fine on the surface, but in practice, delusional and hopeless people never get well.

I don't play the lottery, but if I ever won the big one, I'd somehow do something to get under served mentally I'll people the help they need. Do we need another NGO or foundation, no, just take all those Greenies and turn them away from their sustainability causes and take a look at the human conditions that exist now. And I don't mean not enough bike lanes. And throw in there police training on how to be HUMAN.

To be a public safety officer one should know something about people, not just how to use force to bend them to your will. Sadly, at this time, police in Portland, Lake Oswego and probably other cities, are not your friends, they have the powers of the state and we are helpless before a bad or incompetant or nervous cop. If the bad apples do not get kicked out, then the culture changes into what we have today. And maybe worse to come.

Nolo, you have wrapped it up, sadly. As a father of a bi-polar 24 year old son, I fear constantly for his safety in a "cops gone wild" world emerging.

Even here in our affluent, low-crime small California town just north of SF, our local law enforcement types are obviously eager to "go military" (stealth SWAT gear, automatic weapons, armored vehicles, etc.) at the slightest excuse. And we have our share of "episodes" of citizen-cop conflicts where excessive force is buried under multiple charges against the alleged perp.

Very, very concerned.

Maybe it has to be personal before people understand. Maybe the police act out of fear, and public neglect of mental health conditions is also rooted in fear -- "that could be me" thinking scares people and they turn away. Also, mental health problems are very difficult to deal with. You can't cure them, you can only treat the condition. Treatment is not a sure thing, and many people are undiagnosed or choose to forego treatment. Mentally ill people are notoriously difficult to treat even when medications are available - people don't want to admit there is something so fundamentally wrong with them, and in some cases, you can't convince a crazy person to do something that is sane. Since mostly families are left with the huge problems, as a nation, we havemchosen to separate mental from physical health and look the other way.

My sympathies regarding your son. If he can stay relatively stable, let's hope maturity or a good scare will show him how important prevention and living a strict, healthy lifestyle is. Hard to do when you're 24. Good luck!

You know, when I lived over in NW Portland many years ago, each week a bus would stop off around NW 21st and Raleigh, near what is now a McMenamin's, and dump off mentally ill. Returning them to the wild.

Our state policies made that happen.

As a parent of a daughter with Asperger's, that's just scary. People don't know how to deal with somebody like her, and cops even less so. Fortunately, we have the ability to continue to have her live with us, and continue efforts to teach her some basic real-world survival skills. Many don't have that ability.

At the same time, it's hard to blame the cop who noted that DoJ - of all agencies - investigated them. DoJ, under Holder and Barry, dropped a case that they had stone-cold won because the perpetrators of voter intimidation in Philly were black. Under Holder, hundreds of weapons were sold to drug cartels and terrorists, resulting in hundreds of deaths - yet Holder and Barry have continually impeded investigative efforts.

If ever there were a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is one.

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