Chief Foxworth Tackles Racial Profiling
At the twice-monthly meetings of the Chief's Forum, the usual agenda is to have the police report on some crime- fighting technique and the community members give it a rubber stamp. But in early November, Chief Foxworth invited Lorie Fridell of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to present information on racial profiling.
According to the November 10 Skanner, Fridell confirmed a complaint that "Law enforcement believes racial profiling means stopping vehicles solely based on race. Citizens are using the same terminology, but they consider it to mean biased decisions on the part of the police and not limited to vehicle stops."
Foxworth announced a task force to work with PERF, analyze data collected at traffic stops since the last report was done in 2001, and find ways to de-escalate tensions. He also says he will urge the Metro area chiefs of police, and the Portland Police Bureau, to adopt a broader definition of racial profiling based on the federal definition (see Perez case update).
The September 15 Skanner noted that human rights group Amnesty International published a study that shows racial profiling increasing across the nation, including in Oregon. The report estimates there are 200,869 Oregon residents who have been subject to racial profiling. (That's roughly one of every three non-"white" residents.)
Amnesty is encouraging federal legislation on profiling that would prohibit profiling on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin (the "End of Racial Profiling Act" cosponsored by John Conyers, Arlen Specter and others).
In a related issue, Foxworth asked that data on red-light cameras be collated by race since those photos are taken by a machine, not an officer who may be biased (Portland Tribune, November 5). However, since those cameras are located only in certain parts of Portland (central Burnside and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, MLK and Broadway, Sandy and 39th, for example), such a sample may prove meaningless depending on the demographics of who lives, drives, and runs red lights in those neighborhoods.
Cell Phone Records Surface Again
Several years ago, officers had their cell phones taken away and were asked to reimburse the City for personal calls made on the city-issued instruments. On October 10, the Oregonian printed a story that revealed then- Captain Foxworth made calls to one number 370 times in four months to a woman he listed as an "informant" but who has now become his second wife. Foxworth says that he was advised making even one call to a person on police business would make all the calls police business. Even though Foxworth eventually paid the City back for all those calls, the Oregonian ran the article, contrasting Foxworth's past with his June 7 memo calling for discipline for any officer who uses excessive force, discrimination or shows a lack of truthfulness.
Foxworth was placed on administrative leave for 11 days in 1997 as detectives investigated the original unauthorized use of the phone. The scandal was tied to an investigation of then-Captain Mike Garvey, who was suspected of calling male "escorts."
It is also of interest that a friend of Foxworth's, CW Jensen, made the second-highest number of calls but was not investigated, though he was later terminated for falsely billing about $150 in meals to the Bureau (see PPR #32).
While we do wish for public officials with integrity in their personal lives (Foxworth was married when he made those calls), let's put this in perspective: there are officers who are never disciplined when they beat, shoot, and otherwise abuse citizens. Perhaps the Oregonian can focus on those more serious cases.
More telling than Chief Foxworth's definition (see Perez article), Portland Police Association President Robert King told the Portland Tribune, "Sometimes community policing is hitting someone hard, knocking them to the ground, handcuffing them and putting them in a police car" (October 1).
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