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UPDATES PPR #12 August 1997


As we reported in People's Police Report (PPR) #9, Portland has a new non-lethal weapon: the beanbag bullet. Fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, the 2x2 inch packets, filled with lead pellets, unfold after being fired and hit the subject. While it causes "skin abrasions and bruises" Loren Christensen makes a case in the June Rap Sheet that it's a good alternative to being killed by police. The suggested range of use is 30 to 75 feet, but as we mentioned in our earlier piece if used at close range and fired at the head it could kill someone. Officers are supposedly trained to shoot at a suspect's legs if closer than 30 feet, but perhaps it would be a better idea not to use them at close range at all. The beanbags also allegedly won't work on people in heavy clothes, wearing body armor or under the influence of drugs, including alcohol.

Christensen writes that officers at close range are supposed to use their hands, at medium range a baton or pepper spray (which he says is best for clearing the sinuses), and that there was no effective long-range non-lethal alternative for beat cops. The Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) has been using the beanbags for over a year.

The shotguns for the beanbags will be painted yellow (Christensen refers to them as resembling "very large and very lethal Chiquita Banana[s]") and the ammunition will also somehow be clearly marked so as not to be confused with the regular shotguns carried by patrol officers in the same car trunk.

According to the article, police can use deadly force against a suspect with a gun or a knife at close range. If they have a knife or a club at long range, the bean bag will be deployed.

As for critics of police tactics, Christensen writes "No one calls PIIAC, the ACLU or a hippie when a suicidal person wants to drive a railroad spike into his throat...[Nothing is] 100% effective. All we can do is keep trying."
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In the last issue of the PPR , we reported that Portland Police were starting to get extra hours as security forces for certain events ("These Guns for Hire" ). In June's Rap Sheet, Tom Mack reports that nearly 200 jobs had been filled since February 15. He listed upcoming events such as a film production, concerts, and baseball games. As private security guards become more common, are we beginning to privatize our public police force?

As we were going to press, we were informed that Portland Police told organizers of the Portland Hemp Festival that they would have to hire PPB officers as private security for $6300 or they could not have their event. (Can you say "Shakedown?") Of course, it could be because the Hemp Fest, which displays hemp-related products and literature, is attended by many people who want to legalize hemp's smokeable relative, marijuana.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Dan Noelle deputized the EID security guards downtown so they can make arrests in misdemeanor cases. The guards' salaries are paid by the Association for Portland Progress, a group of downtown business and property owners [see PPR #11--"Keeping Downtown 'Clean & Safe'"]. The guards used to have to hold suspects until sworn police officers arrived. If you think you're scared, even hard-line Portland Police Association President Leo Painton expressed concerns in the July 30th Willamette Week.
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As reported in PPR #10, Berkeley, California is considering a ban on the use of pepper spray because of its relationship to longterm health problems and numerous deaths in California. Lawsuits against the city for the use of the spray include one recently settled for $75,000. The May, 1997 [Berkeley] Copwatch Report says that a city-sponsored Task Force voted 5-2 to recommend a suspension of the use of pepper spray at least until a final report can be generated.

The task force is made up of representatives of 8 city commis-sions. They heard testimony from civilians and police officers.

The Police Review Commission (Berkeley's civilian police review board) voted in June 1996 for a two month moratorium on the use of the spray. Berkeley's police chief refused to comply with the ban. Furthermore, when asked for copies of every police report regarding pepper spray, he offered to give them to the Task Force--with the victim's name deleted to "prevent embarrassment." One of the reasons the Task Force wanted the reports was to talk to the victims.

Apparently, California's Department of Justice requires reports on all incidents of pepper spray use. While the Chief of Police cited 35 incidents to the Task Force, the agency collecting reports for the DOJ only received 13.

The vote in City Council will be September 9th.

For more information: Berkeley Copwatch
2022 Blake St, Berkeley, CA 94704, (510) 548-0425.

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Michigan 7-Elevens are donating "tickets" for officers to give to youngsters for good deeds. Tickets are good for a Slurpee, and the project is known as "Operation Chill." Good deeds include deterring crime, wearing seat belts in motor vehicles, and participating in positive community activities such as those sponsored by the police. (!!!)

Nationally, 7-Eleven is providing more than 902,000 coupons worth $622,380 this year (PR Newswire, June 2, 1997).

Pawtucket, Rhode Island reports that Ronald McDonald is a new friend to the police. Police can "file crime reports from a McDonald's booth and paint their department seal on the window next to the golden arches." The first station was in Texas in early 1990s. There are now 33 in Washington, DC; 13 in Prince George County, Maryland; 3 in Rhode Island, and more in Hartford, Connecticut and Chicago, Illinois.

"The stations are simple, consisting of a phone and a stash of incident reports on pastel tables with salt and pepper shakers," according to the Associated Press (July 13, 1997).

The owner of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island McDonald's says it's just another opportunity to interact with the community.

"It's a deterrent," said Washington, DC, police Inspector William Ponton. "Someone who might want to rob the restaurant or shoplift doesn't know if an officer is there or if the officer is about to stop by."

But it's just an expansion of community policing, says Ken Bickel, a spokesperson for the Community Policing Consortium in Washington, DC.

But don't think things are limited to just a few corporations: Inspector Ponton said that next month police will open work stations in Safeway stores.

(for more info on Police Ministations, see "Now On Your Corner" in PPR #10
& "Police Expand Presence in Convenience Marts" in PPR #11)

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The activities of Portland's Criminal Intelligence Unit (formerly Criminal Intelligence Division) spying on progressive activists documented in numerous back issues of the People's Police Report (#8, 9, 10 and 11) have been immortalized in a national publication, Covert Action Quarterly (CAQ). In the summer 1997 issue, CAQ printed a lengthy article by Portland writer Mitzi Waltz about police surveillance of activists nationwide. A page-long sidebar on Portland includes quotes from Copwatch's Dan Handelman. (The information has been awaiting publication so long, we're still listed as POPSG, a name we began to phase out over a year ago.)

Check it out: CAQ is available for $5.95 an issue from Covert Action Quarterly 1500 Massachusetts Ave NW #732, Washington, DC 20005.

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In PPR #11, we announced the commencement of a Copwatch beat on Hawthorne Boulevard. The beat is a combination of community outreach, education, alliance building and direct observation of police activity. A group of Copwatchers has gone out on Hawthorne for two hours on the first and third Wednesday nights of each month for about three months now. The community response to this project has been overwhelmingly positive. We have interacted with well over 100 people by now, distributing informative literature on the police and civil rights, taking people's reports of altercations with the police, doing follow-up on observed incidents with the police on Hawthorne, and talking with various people about the police and the need for our communities to observe them and hold them accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, this popular support has yet to produce any new volunteers on the beat. There aren't that many of us and this is a very important part of our work as Copwatch for creating a community culture that is vigilant and will not tolerate police abuse. All it takes to get involved in this project is a few hours a month and it can be very rewarding. We promise we won't even make you come to our meetings. To get involved call (503) 236-3065.
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Portland Copwatch would once again like to acknowledge the generous grant made by the Agape Foundation of San Francisco, CA, which helped us to print this newsletter. This is particularly helpful since this issue marks our first-ever 12-page newsletter!

The grant was made in October 1996 and is being put toward publication costs for one year, including new Your Rights and the Police Cards and Copwatch stickers (coming soon).

Other costs are covered by subscriptions and donations. While we have more subscribers than ever, we need you to renew your subscription if it has run out (check the date on your address label) or subscribe for a mere $10 a year if you never have before.
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  [People's Police Report]

August, 1997
Also in PPR #12

Chief Undoes Council Misconduct Vote
Police Shootings, Shootings of Police
 • 18 Years: One Dead Cop, 100s of Dead Workers
 • What is a Hero?

Drug-Free Zones Modified
Day Laborers Resist Immigration Raids
Sheriff Wants Double-Bunking in Jail
Eugene Cops Attack Peaceful Tree-Sit
Updates PPR #12:
 • Beanbag Bullets Now on the Beat
 • Special Duty
 • Pepper Spray to be Banned in Berkeley?
 • Cop-Friendly Capitalism
 • Police Spying Update (again!)
 • Hawthorne Copwatching Update
 • Grant to Copwatch: Update

Report: National Conference in Phillie
Quick Flashes PPR #12:
 • Slap on the Wrist for Rapist Cop
 • Sacramento Cops Target Zapatista Supporters
 • ACLU Updates Police Abuse Manual
 • Portland Copwatch in Media, at Conference

Reviews of 'Zines
Rapping Back #12

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #12 Table of Contents
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