THREE PORTLAND POLICE OFFICERS FIRED FOR UNSATISFACTORY PERFORMANCEIn the last few months, the City has told three Portland police officers that they face termination for on-duty conduct.
One, Sgt. Ronald Barton, was fired for his role as a "ringleader" in the scandal in which officers filed for $165,000 of overtime hours they did not actually work (see PPRs #19 & 20 and sidebar). The April 22 Oregonian says that Barton was fired for "unsatisfactory performance" as supervisor of the officers in "Operation North Star" who filed for the bogus overtime. Barton was suspended last July, then filed for disability, claiming post-traumatic stress stemming from his involvement in the shooting of 12-year-old Nathan Thomas in 1992. That claim was approved in March. The Portland Police Association, which represents officers and sergeants, is challenging the termination, and Secretary-Treasurer Tom Mack expressed "shock" that the city would fire Barton while he was on disability leave.
Also with his job on the line is Officer Douglas Oliver, who similarly received notice in April, for "violation of state law" and "unsatisfactory performance." The Oregonian reported on April 25 that Oliver's use of emergency lights on his police cruiser while speeding down I-5 to appear in court in Linn County last June was illegal. Oliver was pulled over by Oregon State Troopers who cited him with "reckless driving, unlawful operation of an emergency vehicle, and eluding officers" (see PPR #18). Apparently, he pleaded guilty to two charges and was ordered to pay a $300 fine (the Oregonian does not give the result of the charge of eluding officers.) Again, Tom Mack said the PPA would challenge the termination; this time, Mack ties the officer's behavior to trauma in the aftermath of the shooting of Officer Thomas Jeffries in 1997. The Oregonian reports that Oliver asked to be taken off the streets after helping the wounded Jeffries in that incident.
The third officer fired was Eric Carter, who was found to have falsified a search warrant affidavit while working in the drugs and vice division. The article appearing in the May 6th Oregonian states that the District Attorney did not find enough evidence to convict Carter of a crime, yet the Bureau's Internal Affairs investigation found that the affidavit was falsified to allow a search of several locations linked to a suspected drug dealer. The General Orders cited for the termination were "truthfulness" and "unsatisfactory performance." And guess what-- the PPA plans to challenge Carter's firing.
While it is always welcome to see officers held accountable for corruption, misuse of police cars, and lying, none of these offenses have the same impact on civilians as brutality and use of deadly force. The Oregonian states that a total of 13 officers have now been fired since Katz became Mayor. We think it is significant that the Bureau has not fired anyone because of their excessive use of force, despite the fact that such cases make up about 20% of the complaints received by Internal Affairs.
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