RAPPING BACK 31
Portland Copwatch member Dan Handelman analyzes
Can you find a "magic phrase" invoked by three different cops in this issue's Rapping Back?
Despite His Flaws, Kroeker Praised in Hindsight
Although many officers complained about Chief Mark Kroeker in the four years he led the Portland Police Bureau, after his abrupt resignation in August (see article), many came to his defense.
Writing in the Portland Police Association's newsletter, the Rap Sheet (October 2003), PPA Vice President Daryl Turner bemoans the loss of Kroeker, who he says only wanted "honesty, integrity, and professionalism."
Turner says he didn't care about the stricter grooming standards imposed by Kroeker, and he appreciated when Kroeker told protestors to "get used to it" after the police crackdown on May Day 2000.
Turner thinks the shooting of Kendra James was Kroeker's undoing. Kroeker "attempted to do what he thought was fair by suspending [Officer] McCollister for 900 hours" but ended up pleasing no one.
Finally, pointing to the Mayor/Police Commissioner Vera Katz, Turner warns: "If she did send her cronies to tell the Chief to step down, then she is in fact a coward in every sense of the word."
Retired Sergeant Robert Gross writes that the "pendulum has swung far left in Portland" resulting in Kroeker being "expelled" (November Rap Sheet). Foxworth, Gross says, was "appointed... to appease the African American community and stop the Oregonian from taking pot shots at the Mayor's office."
In his October column, Rap Sheet editor Peter Simpson identifies the PARC report and the disciplining of McCollister as the "final straw" that led to Kroeker's downfall (actually, that would be two straws). Simpson says Kroeker's "resignation is a loss to the City of Portland" and claims that morale is at a 10 or 20 year low.
Simpson contradicts conservative Oregonian editor David Reinhard's claim that Kroeker traded his badge for McCollister's. Although the PPA is vehemently fighting the suspension, "the PPA didn't force the chief to resign" writes Simpson.
One officer, Jason Lobaugh, admits he had a problem with Kroeker, who he thought doled out discipline that was "excessive" (letters, October Rap Sheet). For him, it was personal: "After I got twenty days off for doing my job I got confused about what our goal as police officers is."
Lobaugh relates that when conservative personality Bill O'Reilly (who once was a newscaster here) visited Portland in 2003, O'Reilly said "fifteen years ago there were drug users and bums on the streets downtown (mostly Old Town) and ... it is the same today as it was [then]." Lobaugh asks, "Why is it like that?...It's the rights of the scumbag versus what the police are allowed to do. Because the Liberals are so concerned about racial profiling (which is a myth) and police abuse they are willing to dodge the crackheads if they want to go to dinner downtown."
Also in the October Rap Sheet, Detective Dave Anderson submitted a letter headlined "Kroeker's 'resignation' was a coup d'etat." Anderson says this "coup," coming the day before Labor Day weekend, was "led by a myopic group of self-proclaimed community leaders and enacted by the Mayor on a sleepy Friday."
Anderson calls Kroeker an "articulate, trilingual, experienced, honest, thoughtful and decent person" who was "blamed for Mejía Poot and the cocaine fueled actions of Kendra James."
Clouds Overhead #1: Daryl Turner: "Mark Kroeker was living under a dark cloud named Vera Katz and he couldn't get from under it, no matter what he did!" (Rap Sheet, October 2003)
Rank and File Rankled by McCollister Suspension--Subtle Racism at Play? Commenting on the six-month suspension of Officer McCollister, Sgt. Gross wrote a piece called "Good cops losing to vocal minority" in the September Rap Sheet.
Who is this vocal minority? "A group of people who constantly protest, disrupt and complain about police officers... that [don't] fit their left leaning liberal agenda... The Chief of Police, at the direction of the Mayor's office, is going to appease the community by disciplining Officer McCollister for doing his job... The African American community and the local media tried and convicted him of murder before the grand jury met."
Gross turns on its head the accusation that there is a pattern of police violence against people of color (McCollister is white, James was black) by writing: "The men and women of the Portland Police Bureau do not deserve this kind of bigoted hatred."
In November, Gross suggested that one of the reasons Derrick Foxworth (who is black) was appointed chief is that he was the only Assistant Chief to vote to fire McCollister.
Turning his attention to the Albina Ministerial Alliance's protest actions, Gross again bashes the "special interest vocal minority, made up of a handful of copwatch, the 'protest for any cause' crowd, and the Ecumenical Ministries [sic] and their varied small group of supporters making all the noise."
In a letter to Chief Kroeker reprinted in the October issue, Joanna Panter (wife of an officer), expressed her "shock" at the proposed suspension of McCollister, since he was cleared by a grand jury and police said the shooting was within policy. She says the atmosphere is "guilty until proven politically correct," saying the discipline was based on politics rather than the law and training. She notes that politics are "subjective and transitory"... interesting, since interpreting the law is also subjective and transitory. Just ask the judges and legislators who are trying to gut the "Miranda" rights.
Officer Jason Lobaugh's September Rap Sheet letter exclaims "The shooting has brought up the 'race card' where all of a sudden Blacks are being killed at random by Portland Police...I believe some black leaders Rev Tate, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton use these tragedies to further there own agendas [sic]."
Lobaugh wonders, "How did we even get to this myth of racial profiling?" He suggests it is because black crack dealers are easy to spot standing out on the corner to deal, while white meth dealers are in rolling labs.
Maybe Lobaugh has some support. PPA Secretary-Treasurer Leo Painton read the book Are Cops Racist? by Heather McDonald. In Painton's September column he reports McDonald's book claims that the "anti-profiling crusade thrives on an ignorance and a willful blindness to the demographics of crime."
Clouds Overhead #2: Retired Sgt. Bob Gross: "Community Policing has placed a dark cloud over the head of every cop in the bureau." (Rap Sheet, September 2003)
Report on Police Shootings Strikes a Nerve The Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC)'s report on officer-involved-shootings and deaths in custody was not warmly received by many police officers.
Just as bad, argued Daryl Turner in his September column, is the media: "To [the media] we are just a necessary evil rather than brave men and women who are deeply committed to public service."
Turner claims Maxine Bernstein's Oregonian article on the PARC report "takes every opportunity to pour salt into the emotional wounds of many good cops including the in-the-line-of-duty deaths of Thomas Jeffries and Colleen Waibel."
Turner criticizes the analyses by PARC and Bernstein, who weren't on the scene of any shooting, wondering why the city takes advice from "civilians who have no investment of time, hard work and training in the PPB."
President King, in his November column, added PARC's report to a list of woes facing Chief Foxworth: "the Chief comes in at a time when...officers are still reeling from the six month suspension of Officer McCollister, and the PARC report and CPORT both make policy recommendations that make it harder to do police work in Portland" (more on PARC & CPORT in IPR and Kendra James articles). King argues these new guidelines are unfair because officers "put themselves in harm's way for others," yet the PARC report specifically criticizes police for putting themselves in harm's way unnecessarily.
Sgt. Karl McDade, who says he has never shot anyone in 32 years--and won the first Nathan Thomas award for violence reduction by police complains about the PARC report in a letter to the October Rap Sheet. McDade berates the City for showing its ignorance of police work by paying "$60,000 for this tripe."
PARC proposes using Cincinnati and Los Angeles' use of deadly force policies to revise Portland's. "For God's sake, people!" McDade complains, noting that riots broke out after numerous black suspects were shot in Cincinnati, and LA's policies allowed a woman to be shot for holding a screwdriver.
McDade recalls that the PARC-like study done after police shot Nathan Thomas in 1992 suggested that police shoot hostage-takers in the head, rather than shooting at them through windows. "This is a very bad idea," McDade jokes. "Police officers are notoriously bad shots and PARC's report shows that we only hit the people we are aiming at with less than 15% of the shots we fire."
He argues that PARC wants the City to force the police to give up their contractual and legal rights: "We have gained these protections to keep you from politically railroading good cops into prison or out of the service for doing their jobs! Police haters and self-serving consultants might want to strip us of our constitutional protections but so far the courts have not declared us indentured servants to the city council."
McDade outlines several points about violence, the first of which is that "the purpose of the police is to gain compliance with the law. If violence weren't needed we would patrol the streets with ministers."
McDade outlines points that he thinks PARC should have suggested. One of his suggestions is to back away from situations, knowing you can take your time to determine the best approach to a situation, and "never point your gun at someone unless you have a legal justification to take his or her life and you intend to do so." As with many of his other ideas, this idea was in the PARC report.
Did you get it? Officers who are investigated and disciplined for violating Bureau rules are "just doing their jobs."
While the Portland Police Association does not set policy, since some PPA leadership and officers express such negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their newspaper, these ideas may spread throughout Portland's rank-and-file.
The Rap Sheet is available from the Portland Police Association, 1313 NW 19th,
Portland, OR 97209.
People's Police Report
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