Quick Flashes--People's Police Report 38
Police "Union" Contract Renewed; President Puff Piece Printed
City Council unanimously voted to renew the collective bargaining agreement with the police "union" on April 5, making no changes except
to grant cost of living increases. Portland Police Association (PPA) President Robert King noted that the vote was "historic" because not only was the process free of the City trying to get any concessions from the rank-and-file, but it passed by a 90+ percent margin at the PPA.
While this leaves huge gaps regarding drug testing for officers involved in use of force incidents
(see PPR #37), apparently the labor-management committee established by the 2004
Community Policing resolution is near an agreement on this issue. Unfortunately, there does not
seem to be any way for the public to comment on such negotiations.
In addition to his usual efforts to blame the victim (including a letter about Raymond Gwerder titled "Blame shooting suspect" in the December 24 Oregonian), King got a high-profile three- page puff piece by Jacob Sanders on the front of the January 24 Portland Tribune. Sanders included half a quote from Portland Copwatch's Dan Handelman, who referred to King's defense of officers involved in shootings as being "just the job." Sanders failed to contextualize that quote with Handelman's statement that this attitude is an institutional problem that should change. The article reports that King opposed the Independent Police Review Division when it was created in 2001, but then came to the table as it became an inevitable reality. At some point, the level of scrutiny for the citizen panel was lowered from a preponderance of the evidence to a "reasonable person" standard.
The article relates King's history with North Precinct officers who liked to "run and gun" in the early '90s, noting that he has killed two people, on patrol in 1991 (18-year-old Johnny George) and as a Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) sniper in 1997 (65-year-old Bill Utton, PPR #13). For the investigation, "King refused to cooperate...until he had consulted a lawyer, a rare thing at the time," Sanders writes. He notes that King and Chief Foxworth agreed to ignore recommendations for the Bureau to compel officers to participate in misconduct investigations...but fails to note that no Portland on-duty shooting has ever been prosecuted as criminal, or that other cities conduct simultaneous criminal and internal investigations without harming their cases.
Controversial Cop Quits After Challenging Chief at Roll Call
Chief Foxworth triggered the final straw for Officer Tom Mack, who quit in March after being transferred and investigated for disrespecting the command staff. Mack has long been known for speaking his own mind (and even won our "Spike Lee Do the Right Thing Award" in 2000 for refusing to cut his hair after Chief Kroeker cracked down on grooming and for criticizing the brutal police response to May Day 2000--PPR #21).
Back in August, Mack's Lieutenant in East Precinct, Mark Kruger (yes, the one who likes to dress up as a Nazi--see PPR #32), reassigned him from his district, complaining Mack was not writing enough tickets. At a December 14 roll call talk, Foxworth encouraged officers that "it's not only arrests that count, but how well officers work with citizens to solve neighborhood problems" (Oregonian, January 17).
Mack started talking to Foxworth's assistant (Lt. Bob Heimbach), loudly proclaiming "This is BS, this is crap" and noting that his style of work was just what Foxworth described, yet he'd been reassigned to different patrols daily for months for following that example (Portland Tribune, January 27).
According to Oregonian columnist Steve Duin (March 23), after returning from vacation, Mack was told to clean out his locker and report to the Telephone Unit. He called in sick, claiming anxiety and depression disorder. Eventually, personnel Capt. Vince Jarmer threatened to cut off Mack's sick pay; a Sergeant then told him not to speak any more about Chief Foxworth's roll call remarks.
Mack told Duin, "We talk a blue streak about excellence, compassion, service and all that nonsense, but we don't live it. We intimidate people. We scare people."
Protests at Downtown Furrier Draw Business, Media and Police Activity
They come out of the woodwork in numbers, week after week, to send their message. "There's No Excuse for Animal Abuse" is one of the many chants yelled from the corners of SW 9th and Morrison in downtown Portland, the new location for a furrier called Schumacher Furs and Outerwear. The family-owned store, in business for 110 years, has been targeted by local community advocates for animal rights, who have shown up to protest week after week since fur season began last fall. Any sign of protesters in the area of the store often results in a call to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). The PPB has dispatched many an officer to this location multiple times bringing mixed results. In a few cases, the police actions appeared to be out of hand and arbitrary, while on the other side the Schumachers are accusing the police of not doing enough to enforce the law. The Schumachers did not help their case by posting signs in the window using language from the protest signs to say that "All Protesters should be beaten, strangled, skinned alive, anally electrocuted."
Police presence at the protests has multiplied during the "I'd Rather Go Nude Than Wear Fur"
Campaign, a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) strategy to educate the public
about animal abuse by getting their attention and then performing a type of guerilla theater.
There have been a handful of arrests and citations related to the ongoing protest, causing multiple community groups to get involved in making sure police presence is documented and police action is lawful and within policy. One of the groups known for their educational focus of exposing animal abuse, In Defense of Animals (IDA), has helped to organize community advocates by inviting other educational groups to help them observe their Constitutional rights. Portland Copwatch held a "Your Rights and the Police" training for the group. Portland Indymedia's video collective, the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center (NWCRC), the Portland Legal Defense Network, and local non-violence training folks have also been involved in the education of free speech, video training, legal observing, media workshops, legal strategies and tactics, and jail and court support.
The protest has caught nation-wide attention due to the length of the protest, the police involvement, and the Schumachers' vocal opposition including testifying at a recent City Council hearing as part of the "communications" portion. They also gave interviews on the Lars Larson show and to other local media agencies. On March 7, the NWCRC sent out a press release concerning unjustified use of force by PPB officers, saying the police are creating a chilling effect by having a constant presence at the protests. They also say the police are trying to limit political dissent by, for example, giving out citations for failing to use the crosswalk and charging a sidewalk chalker with criminal mischief. Central Precinct Commander Benson and Commissioner Randy Leonard have made statements urging the Schumachers to move from downtown to a mall to increase their security. This prompted outrage from the Portland Business Alliance and led the Mayor to make a statement clarifying that he welcomes businesses downtown but encourages the two sides to engage in a dialogue. At PPR press time, IDA representative Matt Rossell has offered to mediate, but the Schumachers have not accepted.
Clackamas Deputies Arrested for Robberies, Forgery
Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputy David Verbos was arrested in December and pleaded guilty on March 15 to five robberies of banks and "retail establishments" (FBI news release, March 15). In addition to money, Verbos stole numerous painkillers and prescription drugs.
His former boss, Yamhill County Sheriff Jack Crabtree, said "Deputies are human, but robbery? Holy smokes. How can you do a robbery one minute, and then go put on a badge and protect the public the next?" (Oregonian, December 30). Fellow Clackamas Deputies showed their detective skills--joking with Verbos that the robber on a Target surveillance tape looked like him, not realizing why the resemblance was so keen (Willamette Week, March 22).
The FBI says that in addition to threatening to kill people, Verbos yelled "I'll take out your kidney!" as he robbed a McMinville Bi-Mart. His crimes carry up to 20 and 25 years per violation, with sentencing set for May 23. Verbos resigned from the sheriff's office on Jan. 13 (KGW-TV, March 15).
A second deputy, Raymond Lovelace, was indicted in February on federal drug charges based on his allegedly forging prescriptions for medications. A pharmacist busted Lovelace when he noticed altered forms. Lovelace also resigned on January 13 (Oregonian, February 11).
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