[Foxworth's Foxhole Graphic]

Foxworth's Foxhole:
Portland's Chief Volunteers Info to "Watchdogs," Gives to Newspaper on Court Order

Foxworth and Portland Copwatch Agree on Officer ID, Not on Videotaping Protests

On May 11, Portland Copwatch wrote a list of questions to Chief Derrick Foxworth as a follow-up to a meeting we had with him in August, 2004. Below are excerpts from his letter back to us, the full text of which is up on our website at . In addition, we have added information we learned in a follow-up meeting on August 1 of this year.

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We asked him why two Criminalists at this year's May Day event (a) were not wearing identification on their outermost garments as required by Directive 321.50 (though they told us they were Thomas McGrath [DPSST #21146] and Vance Nebling [#37144]) and (b) appeared to be videotaping the participants in the event, collecting information on people for their social, religious or political affiliations, in apparent violation of ORS 181.575.

Chief Foxworth answered that the Identification Division's uniform is "a grey Polo shirt with no nametag on it (which was an oversight on our part). ID/Criminalists will now use the class 'C' uniform at protests, and we will routinely have our supervisors inspect police personnel for nametags." He also said he will consider making a permanent Directive calling for police from other jurisdictions to comply with Portland's identification policy when they come to town for a protest action. They apparently agreed to this a few times already, in part because of community pressure.

As for the information collecting, Foxworth asserted that the City Attorney has allowed the PPB to videotape public events "in anticipation of litigation or criminal acts and for management review. This recording has not been surreptitious, it has captured only the publicly-displayed behavior of officers and participants, and it has occurred only at events that were overtly policed by uniformed officers." He also said the Bureau has "the responsibility to the community to document its performance for internal review and to defend itself against unsupported claims of liability."

Our reading is that regardless of whether a person's activities are "publicly-displayed," (and in fact, particularly when they are), the statute specifically prohibits the collection of information on people's political, religious or social affiliations in absence of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. We find that officers videotaping people's First Amendment activities has a chilling effect on those who are concerned about having a "police file" in a day and age when dissent is becoming criminalized, whether figuratively or literally.

Foxworth evaded questions about the Joint Terrorism Task Force, claiming they were moot since Portland is no longer part of the PJTTF--though he still attends their Executive meetings and two officers maintain their "Top Secret" status (see other article). He defended arming all officers with Tasers, though he let us know that officer Tom Forsyth is no longer receiving money from Taser to do trainings (see PPR #35). Foxworth seems not to understand our concerns that officers who carry Tasers should also be trained in Crisis Intervention (de-escalation) so that they do not rely on the Taser in situations that do not warrant them, and in "positional asphyxia" because of the large number of people who may have died in police restraints after being "tased" (see article).

We followed up on many of these issues at our August, 2005 meeting and we will keep you posted.

Foxworth Wanted to Fire McCollister

As a result of a lawsuit by the Oregonian, the Portland Police Bureau was forced to release records regarding the Kendra James shooting in 2003. In early July, after the James family's civil rights lawsuit ended in favor of Officer Scott McCollister (see article), the City released information which showed votes taken by the three Assistant Chiefs (A/Cs) as to how to discipline McCollister for the incident. McCollister's commander, Bret Smith (one-time head of Internal Affairs), chided him for creating a "tactical disadvantage" by entering the car, and for failing to come up with a plan ahead of time (Oregonian, July 8). Although then-A/C Foxworth voted to fire McCollister, A/Cs Lynnae Berg and Andrew Kirkland voted for suspension, leading to McCollister's 5-1/2 months of unpaid leave (which he is still challenging through arbitration). A judge had to order the City to release the information, which Foxworth, now Chief, argued could chill management from disciplining officers if they know the outcome will become public. The judge and the Oregon Court of Appeals disagreed, and so do we: This case is clearly one where the public interest outweighs any right to privacy claimed by the police.

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