People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Rapping Back #79
Since our last issue, the Portland Police Association (PPA) seems to have gotten their "Rap Sheet" page back up and running with feeds from their Facebook page and that of the Oregon Coalition of Public Safety (ORCOPS). They have added the national version-- United Coalition of Public Safety (UCOPS), as well as the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Facebook and Instagram pages. Since our main concern focuses on the PPA and what articles they choose to highlight, we will continue to focus on the PPA's Facebook page and website.
Since August, there have only been 18 pieces posted to the PPA Facebook page, with two pointing to news releases on the PPAvigil.org website, where a third, separate release lobbied for a national piece of legislation. Of the 19 pieces we found, the two most common themes were ongoing "bluewashing"-- showing officers helping or shaking hands with the community while ignoring police violence and misconduct-- and houseless people (five posts each). To be fair, one of the pieces about houselessness also showed an officer in a positive light, allegedly tracking down a person who violently attacked houseless people (August 27, featuring a KGW-TV story). Other recurring themes were gangs/crime (3 pieces), the supposed short staffing of the Bureau (mentioned in two pieces which mainly focus on other issues), and the PPA collective bargaining contract (also see PPA contract article).
Crying All the Way to the Bank: PPA Calls Accountability Advocates "Self-Serving"
Unlike, say, the officers of the Police Association whose job it is to build political and economic power and be sure its members are both well compensated and rarely held accountable, PPA President Daryl Turner twice accused people pushing for changes to the PPA contract of being "self-serving." His first screed was in response to media coverage of community organizers releasing demands for the City. The day after the campaign for a fair contract released its letter (September 12), Turner put down the ideas by referring to them as "reforms" in scare quotes, claiming the push for accountability was an attack on the officers' constitutional rights of free speech and association, protection against self-incrimination and due process. Au contraire, the demands do not limit the PPA from doing or saying anything-- they call for officers to be held accountable for bias-based policing and excessive or deadly force. They call for an independent agency to review deadly force cases, not for a removal of due process. As for self-incrimination, Turner well knows the criminal aspects of misconduct cases (especially deadly force) have to be walled off from administrative investigations (about whether officers violated training or policy) to prevent abridging those rights.
Turner states police need to be treated the same as other public employees, missing the point that if any other City worker were to shoot or kill someone, they would most likely lose their job and be prosecuted. He says all PPA members want is to reflect the community's desire for a "clean and safe"* Portland. He says the "community wants clean streets, free from garbage, human waste and drug paraphernalia [and] real, tangible and visible solutions to combat gang and gun violence and help people in mental health crisis, experiencing homelessness, and struggling with addiction issues." Since the PPB's rate of shooting and killing people in mental health crisis went up after the US Department of Justice imposed new rules, it is not clear how officers' actions reflect these desires.
The pull-quote Turner posted for social media states "We will not be distracted by those with self- serving agendas to derail the basic rights of our police officers." If it is self-serving to ask not to be harmed by armed agents of the state who suffer no consequences, I guess guilty as charged?
This piece is one of the two which jumps into a discussion about the Bureau being in a "catastrophic staffing crisis like none other." It ignores the City's approval of 50 new officers in the last budget cycle and that those cops aren't on the streets yet, since it takes so long to train them.
On October 1, experts from the national Campaign Zero testified to City Council about how improving the police contract and certain state laws and city policies could lead to safety both for officers and the public. The same day, Turner put out another screed, scare-quoting Campaign Zero's claim of "national best practices" (saying their presentation was used "under [that] guise") and accusing them of trying to take away constitutional and collective bargaining rights. He called the presentation "nothing more than attack on workers." He repeats the quote about being self-serving, word for word from the September post.
As a reminder, the PPA managed to get the City to agree to pay increases which total somewhere between $9 million and $18 million with their agreement to give up the so-called "48 hour rule" in 2016 (PPR #70). It is time for the police "union" to stop whining about having their rights taken away while their members over-police vulnerable communities and their leadership defends cops like Officer Ron Frashour, who shot an unarmed African American man (Aaron Campbell) in the back with a sniper rifle, was fired, and got his job back (PPR #56).
There's Still a Fine Line Between Friendly and Creepy
The PPA re-posted a Police Bureau Facebook entry on August 28 showing "traffic, youth services and precinct officers" welcoming parents and students back to Creston Elementary School. Considering how "short-staffed" the Association says they are, why were cops from three divisions all sent to smile at young kids-- at just one of dozens of Portland schools?
While it's a heart-warming story, the September 4 PPB post about Officer Dustin Lauritz driving a young woman home after her bike was stolen, then getting 911 dispatchers** and cops to chip in for a new bike features a photo of the girl. Many people worry about adults posting photos of kids. We worry about kids being used for propaganda and indoctrination to deter meaningful criticism of police.
In the PPB's August 26 post for "Happy National Dog Day," there are photos of the Bureau's 10 canine (K-9) cops-- who knew there were so many?-- including "Mac," a dog being hugged by a little girl. We assume she wasn't shown the dog's training where he clamps down on the arm of a suspect with his teeth and not letting go (PPR #53).
Speaking of Not Letting Go-- PPA, Business Team Up to Put Houseless People in Jail
Turner has made numerous and repeated statements urging the County to use the mothballed Wapato Jail to house people living on the streets (PPRs #73 and 76, for example). On September 20, the PPA shared a 10-minute video with slick production values, including interviews with a few houseless people, Turner, and Jordan Schnitzer, the multimillionaire who bought the property for a vastly devalued sum and tried once again to re-purpose the jail. While expressing empathy for houseless folks it really boils down to finding an "out of sight, out of mind" place to hide poverty from consumers and tourists. On its website, the Oregonian reported (September 18) the video was made by the Silent Partner Marketing Agency, but not whose money was used. Was it the rank- and-file's hard-earned dues? Did Schnitzer filter money through the PPA to push through his dream project?
A few weeks later, on October 10, an animated infographic went up showing how Wapato has 66 showers, calculating that even at 30 minutes per shower 1056 people could shower in an eight hour day. It refers to how the people will have "dignity" and "privacy" even though-- so far as we know-- most prisons have collective open shower spaces. October 10 is known as World Homeless day, so there's that.
On November 20, Turner posted a screed against the proposed Portland Street Response program (see article on Houseless), saying it's based on the "false premise that officers are ill suited to address mental health and homelessness."
The PPA also posted a November 6 story from KOIN-TV about a town hall in Lents where local residents unloaded their anti-houseless diatribes on Mayor Ted Wheeler and Chief Danielle Outlaw. The reporter claims the residents felt nobody was listening to them and their patience is wearing thin. Wheeler encourages people to have patience, noting it takes a long time to get new officers on the street and the City has to act with compassion and provide resources-- a good talking game while police continue to sweep camps, arrest and use force against houseless folks. The PPA's only comment was quoting the Chief saying some people complain the police do too much enforcement against houseless folks while others say they aren't doing enough. Contextually, we know which side Turner is on.
Making a Federal Case of It
On August 29, the PPA reposted a Facebook article by UCOPS, with a video pushing for the passage of the "Back the Blue Act." This is a piece of legislation which would make it a federal crime to assault or kill a police officer. A more comprehensive post on the PPA's web page on August 30 includes a note from President Turner asking for people to write their legislators to back SB 1480. The graphics in this post claim attacks on officers are on the rise and people will shoot at cops "to get away with a crime, avoid arrest, or simply because they hate cops." The text implies this statute is to be used when a state doesn't use its laws to prosecute the offenders. Knowing cops will accuse people of "assault" if they just touch an officer (or a police animal), and seeing the trend of giving more federal control to police, it goes without saying Portland Copwatch is not in favor of such a law. Govtrack.us, a website devoted to tracking federal legislation, gives SB 1480 a 3% chance of passing.
Shooter Cop Defends Gun Violence Team
On October 9, the PPA posted a KGW-TV story about the Gun Violence Reduction Team (the former Gang Enforcement Team). While KGW gave voice to criticism by editing in footage of Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty at a Council hearing where she proposed defunding the team for its racial bias, they gave Sergeant Kenneth Duilio the last word. He acknowledged the police have to look at disparities in who they approach, but said their actions were based on where the hundreds of gun shots are fired per year. The statistics show 50% of the GVRT's arrests are of African Americans in a city which is 6% black. Duilio, who shot and wounded Bruce Brown in 1999 after mistaking that African American man for a criminal suspect (PPR #24), says he is offended by the accusations of profiling.
The Portland Police Association does not set policy. However, some PPA leadership, officers, and guest authors express negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their postings. We worry these ideas may spread through the rank-and-file. Find their Facebook feeds at ppavigil.org/rapsheet
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.