[Foxworth's Foxhole Graphic]

Foxworth's Foxhole:
Portland's (Ex?) Chief Has Police, Public Perception Issues

Foxworth on "Temporary" Leave Pending Investigation

Chief Foxworth must relate to the graphic we've used for this column over his two and a half year tenure at the top of the Bureau, showing him ducking among sandbags. In early April, Angela Oswalt, a desk clerk from Northeast Precinct dropped a figurative bombshell in a tort claim notice: She claims that in 2000, when Foxworth was Commander at her precinct, he used his position to enter a secret but consensual relationship with her and threatened retaliation if she told about it. Rather than filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint or filing with Internal Affairs, Oswalt waited five years and chose the legal route because, a document released on April 12 claims, she suffers emotional distress caused by Foxworth's alleged abuse of power.

[Oregonian headlines April 6 and 12]
Once the allegations came out, some suspicious maneuvering began. The Oregonian immediately called for Foxworth to "go," though the only evidence that had surfaced were lurid emails Foxworth allegedly wrote containing graphic sexual fantasies. TV interviews with the head of Oswalt's union indicated they had an axe to grind because Foxworth wrote in a later email, "I am so pissed at your fucking union..." and mentioned efforts to protect desk clerks while promoting a "win win for the precinct." Perhaps this email was a reference to asking cops on disability to take some desk clerk duties and re-open the precincts 24 hours (see "Budget," below).

Within days, Mayor Potter noted that the whole issue had become a distraction for the Bureau and the City. He's right--nobody was talking about ongoing concerns of police misconduct, the recent Taser death, the steady rate of police shootings despite the claim that giving Tasers to all officers would lower that rate, and other institutional issues of police violence toward citizens we've been raising for years.

The Oregonian backed down after Potter placed Foxworth on administrative leave April 11, noting that he was due a fair investigation. However, the next day acting Chief Rosie Sizer began shuffling the command staff, indicating that Foxworth may never return to his previous post even if he is cleared of wrongdoing.

If the allegations about Foxworth using his position to engage in and cover up an affair with a female subordinate are true, Foxworth's behavior once again raises questions about sexism and male dominance in the Bureau (see PPR #24).

What can we say? Foxworth has been a lot better Chief than Kroeker, but unless major institutional changes are made, no matter who runs the Bureau, many problems of accountability will persist.

Community Survey Shows Perception of Profiling

[Campbell's 2005 report]
At the February 6 Chief's Forum, consultant John Campbell presented a powerpoint show featuring the results of his community survey. It showed overall public perception of the police isn't improving, African Americans feel they are deliberately singled out by police, and at least 50 percent of Portlanders believe police engage in racial profiling.

Police satisfaction ratings have not changed much since the surveys started in 1994. Ratings of police services generally hovered around 3.3 on a scale of 1 to 5, with minor upticks of 0.1 point in such categories as "understanding the concerns of your community" and "working with citizens to solve problems." This year, African Americans and Latinos were "over-sampled" to get their perceptions; African Americans' opinions were generally worse than the average of all citizens. Perhaps most surprisingly, 53% of all those surveyed said police routinely stop people for unfair reasons, with Latinos registering at 58% and African Americans at 71%.

Two ministers from the Albina Ministerial Alliance asked Campbell to state that the survey proves profiling is a real problem. He politely told them he can prove that a number of people answered a question in a certain way, but he can't say what's really going on out in the streets. (He's just the messenger, it's the politicians who need to admit the reality on the streets and do something to change it.)

Interestingly, a question from Campbell's previous survey regarding the police complaint system had been dropped, allegedly due to budgetary issues. Campbell's report, like Foxworth's report on the Jahar Perez shooting, the last PARC report, IPR's annual reports, and a progress report on the 2004 Community Policing Resolution, have not been scheduled to be presented at City Council.

Budget Balloning: Price Hikes at PPB

Have you ever had to get a copy of your own police report? Pay for your car to be released from the City's tow lot? If Chief Foxworth's proposal passes, the Portland Police Bureau will be balancing their '06-'07 budget off your back. Unfortunately, Mayor Tom Potter is impressed. Foxworth wants to raise the rates on public information requests, towing, photo radar and red light cameras to generate $2.9 million, including towing 16,000 more cars of those who are cited for driving without insurance, without a license, or while suspended (Oregonian, February 21). One good thing: He's proposed taking cops who are on disability and putting them at desk jobs to open the precincts 24/7.

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