RAPPING BACK #15

Portland Copwatch analyzes info in the Police Union Newsletter, the Rap Sheet
Bringing Bizarre and Baffling Bon-Mots by the Boisterous Boys in Blue

PPA PRESIDENT DOESN'T WANT YOUTH GANG GUN VIOLENCE TEAM

In the April Rap Sheet , Portland Police Association (PPA) President Leo Painton notes that the Mayor didn't ask the police for input on her youth gang plan to reduce gun violence. Painton complains that there is already a Gang Enforcement Team and taking more officers off of regular patrol and putting them on task forces decreases police efficiency. (Many of us would actually have to agree with Leo on this one). "Say 'no' to all those special needs and get back to basics like staffing the precincts," writes Painton. In an even more insightful moment, he points out that while there is a public perception of North and Northeast Portland being the hotspots for trouble, "gangs and youth violence are not isolated to any specific part of the city." Unfortunately, he then backs this up by saying he witnessed an increase in "youthful anarchy" in Old Town, claiming the downtown area targeted for upscaling looked to him "like a war zone." Who knows, maybe there are anarchists conducting class warfare in old town, but we think Leo's just scared of young people.

More On Youth Gangs

Frank R. Gorgone of North Precinct wrote in the April Rap Sheet that he came from Boston, where a program targeting youth crime was successful. He noted that optimism was hard to come by in the PPB. He states that "'Protect & Serve' can become 'piss & moan' in about two seconds with any group of blue suits." He writes that in the last 5 years, he has seen "the gradual dismantling of a great agency, all seemingly in the name of saving a buck or political correctness." According to Gorgane, reasons for Portland's low morale include sergeants being laid off, cell phones being "unplugged," and 4-day, 10-hour schedules being "dumped." He wonders if they will get more staff, and "life-saving law- enforcement tools like helicopters."

We wonder if the city instead will adequately fund child care, health programs, true low- income housing projects, and other "life-saving" elements of a healthy society.

Shortage of Staffing

Mark White of Human Resources writes in the April Rap Sheet that the Bureau is short staffed. One reason for the shortage, he says, is that in 1996, Chief Moose instituted a requirement that officers have a four-year college education. White says that this "Prevents the establishment of an adequate candidate pool." He thinks the PPB should judge applicants on experience. The ten job requirements include "the ability to communicate effectively, behave ethically, use good judgement [sic] and act appropriately under stress." White states that 80% of candidates are screened out from these criteria alone, and even more after medical and psychological evaluations.

In 1997, Mayor Katz ordered a hiring freeze due to the budget cuts of Measure 47, which also cut back on the candidate screening staff at Human Resources. White writes, "Inadequate or poor quality investigations translate into inadequate and poor quality police officers; officers that will ultimately create undue liability for the city and embarrassment to the Bureau." Wow--an admission that such officers exist is a big step in the Rap Sheet. Now, can they go back and screen out all the people who were hired before these policies were instituted?

Christensen Swings Right and Left

In the April Rap Sheet, editor and retired cop Loren Christensen wrote about ways to free up space in prison. Looking to Texas, he says they've "put 145 killers to sleep since 1982." He was disappointed when they decided to kill Karla Faye Tucker--because she had been on death row for ten years and he felt they should have been swifter carrying out the death sentence.

Christensen interviews PPA Central Precinct VP John Gable, who is "disgruntled" that although "Operation Northstar" has netted 3000 arrests downtown, most of the alleged drug dealers are back on the streets. Christensen adds that "dangerous predators are out and about victimizing more people. Steven Dons, who recently shot 3 Portland officers, killing one, is one such person--make that, was, now that the coward has killed himself."

At the end of the article, Christensen encourages PPB members to "snitch on a judge" and publish stories when a judge lets someone "dangerous" out on parole or probation.

Further showing his compassion toward our rapidly growing prison population, Christensen reports in the June issue that a study revealed 48% of women and 13% of men in prison were abused sexually or physically at least once in their lives. Large numbers had "dissolute" parents, or were on welfare growing up. Over 1/3 were unemployed when convicted of a crime. "Just a moment," writes Christensen, "I have to dab my eyes. There, I'm ok now."

While we refrained from reprinting Christensen's March diatribe against NRA pro-gun types, Officer Steve Larkin of SE Precinct took him to task. "Believe it or not," writes Larkin in the April Rap Sheet, "everyone who believes in the constitution is not a 'Budweiser- swilling, pot-bellied gun wacko.'" He goes on to imply that because of his name-calling, Christensen is acting like a "liberal." It is a right, not a privilege to carry a gun, he insists.

In his defense, Christensen writes that Larkin missed the point. As for his being a liberal, "I'm sure the media and the cop watcher groups are scratching their heads over that comment." He states that he is still an advocate of gun ownership, that he owns several and his wife carries one. But he invites Larkin to dialogue about modern weaponry and where to draw the line.

We wonder what Larkin's response will be to Christensen's amazingly anti-violence editorial in the July issue. Christensen relates his experience in Vietnam, singing songs about "slicing [North Vietnamese] to shreds. I [thought] we would be singing things like the Star Spangled Banner. Instead, we were singing about sordid relationships with women, and about brutally killing people whom I had never seen and had nothing against."

Christensen points out that a study showed only 15-20% of soldiers in World War II shot their guns, while 90-95% did in Vietnam. He says this was due to training in "automaticity," where seeing a certain stimulus made you go for your gun and shoot. He points out how many video games nowadays feature this kind of training, and how children are being trained as better killers than the soldiers in Vietnam. He berates the "mental desensitization" toward violence and death that he sees on TV, in shows like "Xena, [Warrior Princess,]... cartoons, music videos, the 6 o'clock news, Jerry Springer, and Fox Network's real-life video shows." This is particularly interesting since much of the news and most of the Fox real-life shows revolve around police violence.

We hope Loren will help us do something about all this violence. Peace, you closet hippie!

No Support for Killer of George the Dog Pisses Off Portland Cop

In a letter to the April Rap Sheet, Officer Patrick A Walsh writes that the union should stand behind John Hurlman, who killed George the Dog in October, 1997 while jogging off-duty. (see PPRs #13 and 14 for more info) Hurlman, Walsh writes, is in a "legal battle with gold-digging dog owners," that is, the human companions of the animal who was shot point blank by Hurlman and are seeking compensation. Hurlman told Walsh that if the PPA backed him, "They'd have to back Regalado and Benge, too." Regalado and Benge were each indicted for dealing marijuana (see PPRs #6 and 13). "I, for one, do not put John in the same light as those two dope-dealing criminals. John has not committed a crime as they did." It just goes to show you, that killing a living being is not a crime, while selling an herb is.

Police Psycho-Babble

A new person whose work is being featured in the Rap Sheet is police psychologist Dr. Dan Goldfarb. In the June issue, Goldfarb relates the causes and effects of police stress. He defines stress as "That feeling and desire along with the ensuing bodily effects, experienced by a person who has a strong and true longing to choke the living s&*% out of someone who desperately deserves it, but you can't."

He knows that police suicide rates were half that of the public from 1934-1960, but are nearly double now. He thinks the main reason is that "YOU CAN'T CHOKE 'EM ANY MORE! Street justice is all but gone. Everyone has video cameras...Politicians continue to pander to the public with new laws and restrictions for police officers that further tie their hands, and YOU CAN'T CHOKE ANYONE WITH YOUR HANDS TIED." It is a relief that our stressed out police are in such capable hands for their mental well-being.

OK, Now This Is Just Plain Nuts

Reprinted from the ABA Journal (whatever that stands for--the All-Bullshit Association seems to fit), an article in the July Rap Sheet claims that the reason so many police suspects are found to have been shot in the back is that human beings can turn around faster than a bullet can be fired and hit them.

According to the article, an April, 1997 Wound Ballistics Review study says that people can turn 90 in .33 seconds, whereas a drawn gun can be fired in .38 seconds, or 1/20th of a second slower. A person can turn 180 in .66 seconds, whereas firing a gun when your finger is not on the trigger to begin with will take .661 seconds, or one thousandth of a second longer. The article implies that this will bolster cops' testimony when they say they didn't shoot someone in the back, though witnesses and medical reports show otherwise.

Perhaps the same study said that if a flying pig hit the officer in the head just before firing, that could also affect whether they saw the suspect facing toward them or away.

Copwatcher Hates Kids with Cancer?

Last issue, we reprinted a picture from the Rap Sheet of Chief Moose and another officer who had shaved their heads as a fund-raiser for the new children's cancer ward at Doernbecher hospital. Pointing out that the police looked like skinhead gang members with shaved heads, and that they carry guns and are prone to violence, we commented that maybe the head- shaving wasn't the best idea for the cops (who looked very intimidating up close and bald.)

Loren Christensen was so offended by the photo caption, he devoted almost a half a page to us in the June issue. Here are some excerpts.

"I'm sure very few have ever seen a sad little publication called People's Police Report, a 12-page newsletter written and published by conspiracy theorist, Dan Handleman [sic]. He and his buddies call themselves the Portland Copwatch/POPSG.
"[Handelman] takes special delight in attacking me each issue...Lately, he has agreed with a couple of things I've written and that has me really worried.
"Handleman tries to pass himself off as a holier-than-thou defender of the downtrodden, persecuted, oppressed and abused, even if he has to modify reality to do it.
"In the last issue, he chose to criticize the 100-plus officers from Portland and Vancouver, including the two chiefs, who on their own time, volunteered to have their heads shaved to raise money for children undergoing chemotherapy, some of whom are terminal. Handleman chose this profound event to sling mud at the police, but his attempt only revealed his true self.
"Handleman's act of insensitivity reveals much about the true nature of this guy who assumes to defend every living creature not wearing a police uniform. He should be embarrassed and ashamed as to how this make him and his little group look, though his hatred for the police no doubt overshadows such emotion. One wonders if he sent a copy of the issue to Doernbecher Children's Hospital."

While Christensen missed the point, he did let the rank-and-file know about the People's Police Report. We hope more officers will find a way to read our sad little publication, and do some serious soul-searching about the role of police in our society. But until then, we thank Loren for the plug.

 

The Rap Sheet can be obtained from the Portland Police Association,
1313 NW 19th, Portland, OR 97209.
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