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Portland Police Lament 'Hero' (Killer) Cops Treated Badly By the Public and the Media

In the April 1999 issue of the Portland Police Association's newsletter, the Rap Sheet, editor and former Portland cop Loren Christensen wrote about "Hero cops maligned by the media." He refers to the times when "the you-know-what hits the fan, all your survival training kicks in, and your trained actions save your life or the lives of others. But in so doing, the perpetrator is hurt, or killed.... You're OK, you did the right thing. You...saved yours or someone else's bacon. In police vernacular--it was a clean deal.

"Ha! You are soooo wrong.

"As the dust begins to settle and you are looking for some clean underwear, the media sweeps in with their bright lights, hairspray, and News Helicopter Air Whatever. 'Did the police overact[sic]?' they ask urgently and pointedly into the camera. 'Was the victim--this father of two, this high school football star, this man who loved his mother so much, this racial minority, this sexual minority, this mentally challenged, this vertically challenged, this visually impaired, this balding, this dandruff flaker, this menopause sufferer--shot unnecessarily by the police with their high-tech weapons and gestapo tactics?'

"Before you even begin your reports, the special interest groups are panting with surprise as they plan their defaming sound bites before the news cameras, their accusatory letters to the editor, and what songs they will sing as they march through the streets with their candles and sad expressions."

LC goes on to describe how AP reporter Larry McShane has written a book, Cops Under Fire: The Reign of Terror Against Hero Cops. The book apparently profiles officers whose lives were "turned upside-down" after shooting incidents. "Regardless of the solid evidence supporting the officers' actions, the aftermath turned into a nightmare for them and their families. Every case involved color, though not just white officers defending themselves against suspects of color. In some cases, the officers were of color, but McShane has found...'Black versus blue has moved in as a replacement for black versus white.'"

"'As police forces become more integrated, it seems that the race of the suspect is more important than the race of the officer involved. The cops are always blue, regardless of heritage.'" (How astute!)

Portland's 100-Year "Hero Cop" List is Shorter than 10-Year Citizen List

The Portland Police Association points out that Portland's Memorial for fallen cops represents 25 dead, who left 21 widows, 1 widower, and 37 children growing up with one parent (Rap Sheet, June 1999). However, they do not seem to have such statistics on the over 25 people killed by police or who died in police custody just in the 1990s.

Apparently, many of the cases headed to court, where in all but one case, still pending as of the book's publication, the officers were found not guilty. Christensen states that in many cases, "jurors were incredulous that they were even brought to trial."

In May's Rap Sheet, Christensen follows Greg Pluchos, PPA President, for a day. Apparently, Pluchos is currently working on officers' rights in deadly force and death-in-custody situations. Police detectives handle such incidents as criminal investigations. Pluchos looks at his job this way: "We have to find a balance between the district attorney's and the community's right to know with those rights of a police officer in a criminal investigation."

1998 Police Who Died in Line of Duty: Again Less than 1/2 Shot

In 1998, 156 officers died on duty nationwide: 63 were shot, 48 died in car wrecks, 15 were struck by cars, 9 died of illness, 7 drowned, 4 died in motorcycle accidents, 4 died in aircraft accidents, and 6 perished in unexplained ways. So, 40.4% were shot in the line of duty and the rest were all accidents or illness. (Rap Sheet, July 1999)

  [People's Police Report]

August, 1999
Also in PPR #18

Chief Moose Cuts Loose, Leaves Mixed Legacy
 • Mayor Asks "What Do You Want in a Chief?"
PPB Shoots at 4; Dow's Killers Awarded
  •Police Lament "Hero" Killer Cops Treated Badly
Eugene Cops Turn Rally into Melee
Oregon Looks at "Driving While Black"
Salem Gets Organized
Review Board Loses Staff Person, Stalls
Two Copwatchers Undergo Mediation w/Police
Deputy Fun Facts (Clackamas, Washington)
Pepper Spray: "Safety," Pain, Death & Lawsuits
Quick Flashes PPR #18:
 • Two Portland Officers Fired for Lying
 • City Ignoring Youth Self-determination
 • Supreme Court OKs Search and Seizure of Passengers
 • Police Snitch Program Draws Heat
 • Tardy Cop Breaks Law
 • Police Cheat on Overtime
 • Iraq Protestors Free, Challenge "Lawful Dispersal" Rule

Updates PPR #18:
 • Gambling West Linn Chief Pleads Guilty
 • Gold Hill Chief Convicted
 • Bend Family Sues
 • Shooter Ex-Cop Strikes Again
 • Police Volunteer Indicted
 • "Grow Light" Store Busted After Filing Suit
 • NYPD Cops Indicted in Diallo Shooting
 • NYPD Officer Admits Sodomizing Louima
 • Millions March for Mumia
 • Copwatch and CUSPR: Organizing for Accountability

Rapping Back #18

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 #18 Table of Contents
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