People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
People's Police Report 24 - Updates
Community Groups, Labor Gear Up to End the FBI-Police Venture in August & September
The Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (PJTTF) revealed itself to be targeting labor groups with a phone call to the Carpenters' Union Business Rep this spring. The June Portland Alliance reported that an officer from the PJTTF called to warn that the union's upcoming action at a Beaverton construction site had been listed on the web page of the Cross Border Labor Organizing Committee (CBLOC). Since CBLOC is an international workers' solidarity group with no history of violence, much less "terrorism," one wonders why the officer was concerned.
When the Carpenters showed up for their planned rally, they found that the workers on the site had been told by management to take the day off.
The ILWU's Dispatcher newspaper reported on the PJTTF in April (prior to the Carpenters incident), citing Portland labor activist Bob Marshall of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals: "We have seen collusion between police and employers throughout the history of the union movement in this country."
The PJTTF, a combination of eight Portland Police Officers, and a number of FBI agents and other law enforcement (see PPR #23), has not otherwise been overtly poking around Portland's progressive community.
A growing movement to overturn the PJTTF has been emboldened by the Carpenters' Union experience. With over 20 labor unions, several progressive organizations, a neighborhood association, and the state's Sierra Club on board, activists hope to prevent the City Council from renewing the PJTTF's Memorandum of Understanding when it expires in September.
On April 5, the FBI, Eugene Police, Oregon State Police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the Portland home and bakery of Earth Liberation Front (ELF) spokesperson Craig Rosebraugh. Rosebraugh's house was raided once before (see PPR #20), but this time law enforcement agents seemed intent on preventing news releases from being sent. They took computers, fax machines, address books, and more. None of the individual officers or agents identified are among those originally assigned to the PJTTF, which is odd considering the ELF was specifically cited in the original ordinance as a targeted "terrorist" organization.
Special Agent Phil Donegan decided to do interviews with the press after the raid and prior to the international actions opposing the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) two weeks later because "the FBI is worried that the [ELF's] call for militant action [at these events] could lead to violence" (Oregon Public Broadcasting, April 18). Portland's protests against the FTAA went off without violence, despite a heavy police presence (see May Day article). Since the raid, the ELF has claimed responsibility for arsons in Portland, Clatskanie, and at the University of Washington in Seattle.
In May, Dignity Village, the self-governing tent city for the homeless (see PPR #23), was told that residents would be arrested if they tried to set up their tents again after the proposed eviction date of July 1. On June 26, just days before the deadline, they were given a 30-to-90-day reprieve if the villagers met certain conditions. The Village is currently located under a freeway off- ramp in Northwest Portland owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
The ultimatum (and reprieve) came from the office of reputedly liberal City Commissioner Erik Sten, who is in charge of Portland's Housing Bureau. According to the May 30 Oregonian, the City "had to" investigate a complaint lodged against ODOT because of alleged electrical, plumbing, and sanitation code violations. Next time you file a complaint that is ignored, remember to cite this example of swift justice.
Villagers told Copwatch that Sten's assistant Bob Durston informed them their "experiment" had "run its course." But now the City is considering making Dignity a "pilot project," meaning either they were swayed by Dignity's write-in campaign, or Sten, facing backlash for losing $38 million due to Water Bureau computer errors, didn't want to look any worse than he already did.
Homeless-run-and-distributed street roots reported in its June issue that Sgt. Jim Powell, who has been on Dignity's case from the beginning, told Durston he was afraid "there is going to be a fight in the camp and somebody's going to get hurt." The article points out that at Transition Projects, a City-funded shelter, four people were evicted for violent behavior in six weeks, whereas only a few people were asked to leave Dignity in its entire six-month history.
Dignity's security team invited Copwatch to give them a "Your Rights and the Police" seminar in late May, a well-received part of an all-day nonviolence training.
As we reported in PPR #23, the overtime scandal that rocked Portland's Central Precinct in 1999once estimated to involve about $165,000 in overtime pay for work that was never donenow supposedly involved just a little over $23,000. Revisionist reporting has caused the once-shocking scandal to dwindle to a mere memory. The investigation purported that only $877 in overtime was claimed falsely, while about $22,000 in unworked regular hours, or "cuff time," was the largest amount paid to police working federally-funded, drug-related "Operation Northstar."
However, the District Attorney's February 15 report actually states that officers were called in for the weekly missions with less than 48 hours' notice. This allowed cops whose shifts technically started later than the missions began to claim overtime for hours prior to their normal working hours. Many cops would come in early, work about eight hours, end their regular shift early, and hang out in a bar while still on the clock for regular "straight" time. In other words, they were clocking in for a regular eight hour shift but making time-and-a-half for two to four hours, and using Federal funds to do so. These figures are not reflected in the D.A.'s report, which only reports documented "cuff time" and overtime hours not worked by officers. Therefore, the initial figure could be close to accurate.
The District Attorney's report is very clear that there are not sufficient records to prove how often this pre-shift overtime happened. Officers were not required to report their regular shifts on overtime slips. Officers often did not log in on the "CAD" (computer assisted dispatch) system, and even more often did not log out at the end of their shifts.
The public may have lost interest, but Sergeant Rocky Balada, Lieutenant James McDaniel, and Central Precinct Commander Robert Kauffman, who were all demoted, and Sergeant Richard Barton, who was fired, are probably not going to forget the scandal too soon.
In the report, the D.A. vascillates between condemning their behavior and excusing it, noting that Sgt. Barton might have been a dedicated Dudley Do-Right, coming in early to work extra hours and then taking "cuff time" of his own without ever requesting overtime. However, the report also goes out of its way to remind the Bureau that lack of criminal wrongdoing does not exempt the officers from administrative or civil action.
Its basic conclusion is that the vague wording of the PPA's labor contract with the City (and the reams of missing paperwork) would make criminal prosecution too difficult. Even though the City Charter requires all employees to work for all hours paid, Police General Orders and the "union" contract are ambiguous enough to allow the cops to cheat the clock. In this respect, we concur with the D.A.: the contract and the G.O. need to be rewritten to be very specific about overtime.
Arbitrator Calls Police Management Liars
In early May, Sgt. Michael Barkley accepted three years' worth of disability payments, based on a stress claim he made, as a compromise to avoid pushing the City to pay him back wages.
The May 9 Oregonian reports that "in that claim, Barkley and his doctors said Barkley suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome stemming from four shootings in which he was involved--two of which were fatal--in 1981, 1990, 1992 and 1993." Barkley was on leave for over three years (December 1995 to April 1999) while he was being investi-gated for allegedly stealing money from a friend's family (see PPR #17).
Barkley got an enormous amount of coverage in the local press, particularly because an arbitrator in the case called statements made by Police Bureau management "fiction or fabrication" (Willamette Week, March 21). Captain Robert Kauffman wrote a letter claiming that Barkley had voluntarily agreed to take time off without pay during the investigation. Yes, this is the same Kauffman from the overtime scandal, who was promoted to Commander in 1997, then demoted in 1999. Kauffman's letter was based on statements made by Assistant Chief Bruce Prunk, who has since been demoted to the new rank of Deputy Chief.
Former Portland Police Association bigwig Tom Mack filed Internal Affairs complaints against Prunk and Kauffman, but Chief Kroeker declared that "the City Attorney has advised that such an investigation is not necessary or appropriate. I agree" (Portland Tribune, April 3). Mack also filed complaints with the U.S. Attorney and the FBI (Oregonian, April 24).
In a profile in the April 11 Willamette Week, Barkley was painted as a pretty good guy, who on occasion opposed racism and sexism within the Bureau. However, Copwatch responded with a letter in the April 25 WW that Barkley's history of shooting incidents may prove him trigger- happy. One time, he emptied his revolver at a bank robber; he also shot 14 times at a suicidal woman and multiple times at a possibly mentally ill man, both of whom died as a result.
The Washington Post reported April 20th that former PPB Chief Charles Moose (now the top cop in Montgomery County, Maryland) defended his department's practice of paying informers to have sex with prostitutes.
"We thought we were doing what's right," Moose said, though Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said that his office doesn't allow the use of evidence provided by johns. Moose said there might have been a "miscommunication" between his cops and the lawyers.
Informers are employed to have sex with prostitutes in sting operations because police officers are barred from doing so or from being informers while off duty. Moose said he doesn't want his officers to have "those values or morals," though he doesn't seem to mind encouraging them in informers, at least one of whom has admitted to being a friend of a vice detective.
The Portland Police Bureau also pays informers to have sex with prostitutes, a policy established under Moose.
Federal jurors ruled that Bend officer Al Campbell did not violate the civil rights of Adam Gantenbein when Campbell shot him in February, 1999 (see PPR #23). After a highly- publicized trial, Cal Gantenbein, a former Portland Police officer and Adam's father, is considering an appeal, having already spent over $100,000 on the case (Oregonian, July 6). Even though other officers disputed Campbell's story and experts proved that he could not possibly have seen Adam's Jeep climb on the hood of his patrol car, the jurors fell for the "don't second-guess police" argument and let Campbell off the hook. A secondary suit against the city of Bend for hiring Campbell never moved forward because of this decision. The FBI has been investigating the shooting, but there is no word on their progress.
U.S. District Judge John Jelderks upheld most of a $1.4 million lawsuit won by former Deputy Carl Bell after a jury decided the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department had discriminated against Bell (see PPR #23). However, basing his decision in case law that "few cases [exist] in which punitive damages were awarded against individual police officers," Jelderks told Sheriff Pat Detloff he wasn't personally liable for $250,000 in damages (Oregonian, April 12). He also considered letting seven deputies off the hook for over $50,000 each. When citizens discriminate or cause harm, they must pay; when their law enforcement does it, the citizens still pay, and the officers are free to discriminate again.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.