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Police Focus on Racism Issues...but Don't Update Profiling Statistics While the Community/Police Relations Committee (CPRC) is receiving updates on internal Bureau training aimed at dismantling racism, they still have not provided the community with traffic and pedestrian stop statistics for 2010 or 2011. That is unfortunate, since the CPRC was created to replace the City's Racial Profiling Committee (PPR #46). The CPRC's recent meetings included reports on trainings based on a Seattle project, the Race and Social Justice initiative. Officer Deanna Wesson-Mitchell notes that the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is easing into the training, which will take five years before reaching all 1000 members of the Bureau.
The good news is, the PPB is no longer "acting like racism doesn't exist." There are acknowledgments of institutional racism. At the March meeting, a video on racism educated CPRC members about historical obstacles to citizenship and homeownership facing non-white Americans. Portland Copwatch (PCW)'s Dan Handelman suggested asking questions such as, why would no loan officers say "forget the redlining, I am going to give this black person a loan?" If you apply the historical lessons to how police presently behave, they should be against laws like Sit/Lie, and question why 11% of those reprimanded for sitting on the sidewalk are African American in a city that is 6% black. Commander Mike Crebs said that comment made him pause to think. Maybe there is some hope after all.
Wesson-Mitchell reminded the Committee the Bureau's command staff is all white and male, and officers of color can get some assignments (Gang Enforcement and Drugs/Vice), but not necessarily coveted ones like Mounted Patrol or the Training Division. It's usually a matter of the upper management selecting "people they know."
The March meeting was graced by Dante James, the new Director of the Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR), which includes the CPRC. It was held in NE Portland rather than in the CPRC's old North Portland home or the OEHR's new office, which is downtown and not out in the community.
At the February meeting, Sgt. Anthony Passadore spent nearly an hour showing slides and relating his experience with other Portland cops teaching community policing in Bangladesh (PPR #55). This presentation also gave some hope, as Passadore noted the feeling of being a minority. He related how community members expressed concern about corruption, leading to some officials hiding their faces in shame. Passadore expressed that part of teaching is to lead by example-- if you don't follow the law, why will the regular citizens? However, as PCW pointed out, even though the Portland police may have been in a minority, they were still not as vulnerable as they would be, say, living on the streets of America with no money and no home, since they were still under the wing of the Bangladeshi police. This is why PCW still calls for a homeless immersion program for all Portland officers.
The April meeting included a discussion about the proposed reinstatement of Officer Frashour
(more information here). While some community members expressed anger and
frustration, the consensus was not to
make any kind of statement until (and perhaps even after) the Unfair Labor Practice complaint
process has run its course.
Portland Copwatch Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability
through citizen action.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.