Rapping Back #22 --Analysis of Police "Union" Newsletter

War on the Media

In the September issue of the Portland Police Association newsletter, the Rap Sheet, retired cop and editor Loren Christensen ruminated on the "war on crime": "If we are really at war with the criminals, what would we do about the media? They constantly try to make our side out to be culprits. They frequently interfere with investigations, reveal our strategies, fill in information when they can't get it, and often sympathize with the 'enemy.'

"Author Colonel Dave Grossman (On Killing) made this observation: 'Today the media undermines the law enforcement community in the war on crime, often taking the side of the criminals, just as they took the side of the communists in Vietnam.'

"Outspoken former LAPD Chief Darryl Gates has an answer. 'If there really was a war on crime, the first thing we would have to do is shoot the media as traitors.'"

PPA Infighting and "The Good Old Days"

In the September issue, president Greg Pluchos noted recent successes of the PPA, such as the first raise above the Consumer Price Index in 15 years, done after the "first-ever public outreach effort to the community." Without using names, he then lists some bad things that happened, including that "the Secretary-Treasurer [Tom Mack, who was running for PPA President]" had made investments with the Association's funds in violation of the PPA Constitution.

Meanwhile, the PPA is apparently being sued by one of its members (we suspect this is multiple shooter cop Sgt. Barkley) for not handling his grievance in a timely manner. An arbitrator decided in favor of the PPA. Apparently, during the course of this legal battle, Mack accused PPA attorney Will Aitchison of forging a document, an accusation which he later withdrew.

Pluchos reminds the PPA members of past successes in cases that they "won, hands down...in a way that won the respect rather than the disdain of the City." The examples cited are as follows:

"We've won the good fights. Remember the so-called 'possum' case, the 'T-shirt' case, Doug Erickson's wrongful discharge, and the arbitration over our wages?"

Yikes, and for those who don't remember the first three cases (all of which had racist overtones), let's just say...thank goodness Pluchos is planning to retire next year.

Kroeker: Not Behind BARS, But He Should Be

In October's Rap Sheet, VP Kurt Nelson alerts the membership of the PPA that the Police Bureau wants to institute a Performance Evaluation designed by of one of Chief Kroeker's "Work Improvement Teams." Nelson notes that language in the "union" contract states the PPA must be contacted about any evaluation system in order to bargain about aspects of the system that affect their contract.

Nelson reports that the PPA was concerned because the evaluations were planned to be used for "not only promotions, but also assignments, and even discipline." When the PPA noted that this would invoke the mandatory bargaining clause, "management said we could express our concerns all we want but it really did not matter. They were going to implement whatever system they wanted to whether the Association liked it or not."

Apparently, the PPA has proposed a nationally recognized system know as Behavioral Anchored Rating System (BARS), but the Bureau is proposing either a system in which an officer and his/her supervisor write evaluations, or one which rates how well officers support the Bureau's "strategic goals, such as Reducing Crime or Reducing the Fear of Crime." Both systems, he points out, rely on subjective forms of evaluation. Obviously, the latter idea is Kroeker's way to find out if people are following his vague goals for the Bureau; and dare we say that either one appears to be a worse idea than what the PPA proposes.

PPA Member Proposes Police Join Teamsters

Rob Blanck purports in October's Rap Sheet that the police "union" is there only for the service of collective bargaining and representation in discipline settings, and that "we should not be hiring public relations firms or supporting politicians and their promises.

"Our expertise depends on a lawyer [Will Aitchison] who has served us fairly well; however, I have to wonder if he can measure up to what the Teamsters can offer. I have heard that we pay a retainer of $150,000 a year for his services. Are we getting our money's worth? Who is really in control of our union?" (emphases ours)

Blanck praises the efforts of the current PPA, but says that "as much as these brave hearts try, can we really expect them to keep up with the changing landscape? ... Some have suggested dissolving the union and hiring the AFL- CIO/Teamsters. I know the first thought is 'the Police, hiring the Mob, to represent us.' ... This reaction, like all stereotypes, flows from ignorance... The Teamsters are the measure all others are compared to."

Since the police are usually the ones bringing truncheons down on the heads of striking workers, this proposed alliance seems like a conflict of interest.

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