People's Police Report Updates May 2006 (Issue #38)

Council Approves Modified "Drug-Free Zones" Non-Convicted Suspects Excluded

On March 15, City Council approved modifications to Portland's "Drug-Free" and "Prostitution- Free" exclusion Zones, setting in motion new rules that make it less likely (if only slightly) that innocent people will be targeted by police. The revised law passed 4-1, with Commissioner Randy Leonard the lone dissenter. Leonard and Erik Sten had proposed an amendment to limit exclusions from the city's designated areas of high drug and prostitution crime to people who had previously been convicted of a drug crime within five years. Their amendment failed 2-3.

[Drug Free Zone form excerpt] Despite community concerns raised about a loophole, the ordinance still allows police to exclude those who are found not guilty or whose charges are dropped prior to the end of the 90-day exclusion period.

Changes that did get made show some improvement, but do not go far enough to protect civil liberties:

--Police must now issue citations or effect arrests when excluding people;

--Every exclusion will automatically be reviewed by a city hearings officer (as noted in PPR #37, a member of the executive branch, thus not a true "check and balance" to the police);

--The exclusions go into effect after 22 days, not immediately (though the time frame to appeal the exclusion is only 15 days, for some reason);

--Those with exclusions no longer have to carry paperwork showing their "variances," and all standard variances can no longer be arbitrarily crossed out by police (such as visiting social services or going to school, work or home);

--The ordinance's renewal period is one year, rather than 3 years.

Council also proposed creating an oversight committee for the Zones, but left the membership requirements of that committee vague. As a result, it could have been stacked by the D.A. and pro- Zone neighborhood residents. However, community activists who testified against the Zones-- including folks from the ACLU of Oregon, Metropolitan Public Defenders, Western Prison Project, and State Representative Chip Shields--are working to make that committee more balanced.

Further Crackdowns on Portland's Homeless

[Willamette Week headline and cartoon January 25] Last issue, we reported on Mayor Potter and the Portland Police Bureau's on-going "moving along" of the homeless, which had expanded to include a 9 pm to 5 am curfew in the South Park Blocks. The January 24 Oregonian indicated the curfew was to be extended to four additional parks: the North Park Blocks, O'Bryant Square, Ira Keller Fountain Park and an unnamed park on Southwest 14th and Hall.

Although the article points out that crime in downtown Portland decreased 14 percent between 2004 and 2005, the City continues to foster the perception that this area is crime ridden and that curfews and other such "tools" as the Sit-Lie Ordinance are necessary to keep the poor and homeless at bay. Mike Kuykendall of the Portland Business Alliance was quoted as saying that the results of the South Park Blocks curfew were "amazing" and "a very easy quick way to fix a problem." While no one from the homeless population was sought out for a quote, the article did indicate that those on their way to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall or the Portland Center for the Performing Arts are now able to walk through the park rather than around it, reflecting the apparent belief that parks are there for the more affluent rather than for those who might find it a place to sleep for the night. There is no doubt that some crimes were being committed in the parks, but there are specific laws to deal with that. The wholesale curfews seem to be a sledgehammer-sized solution to a pin-sized problem.

Mayor Potter had said in October that downtown crime was down by 7 percent for the year (Willamette Week [WW], January 25). Once again, perception seems to trump reality. Mayor Potter is quoted as saying after the curfews, "Downtown Portland just feels better now." Commander Benson of Central Precinct told WW that "half of our job is related to whether people feel safe." So, it appears that those in the community with lesser means must be subjected to curfews and the "just move along" syndrome so that others might "feel" better and safe. Richard Harris of Central City Concern was also quoted in WW, saying the extension of the curfew to the other parks is "a solution to fix something that's not a problem" and he questioned how the effectiveness of the curfews could even be measured.

Weekend At Bernie's: Can Multnomah County's Sheriff Keep His Career from Dying?

[Weekend at Bernie (Giusto)'s poster] Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto got slammed by both a County Auditor's report in March and a grand jury report in December for his spending on personnel. The grand jury found that the expense of $1.7 million in comp time (1.5 hours off for every daily overtime hour) was more expensive than paying deputies for overtime, since the deputies' time off causes those who fill their shifts to work overtime (Tribune, December 23). Both reports noted that the 400 deputies and sergeants took about five times more comp time last year than four years ago, up from about 5,000 hours in 2001 to 24,000 hours in 2005. The Auditor, though, stated they couldn't conduct a full review because "a staffing study that helps determine proper staffing levels has not been conducted for over nine years" (Tribune, March 10).

We know you're dying to hear the latest about Jim Jeddeloh, the Citizens Crime Commission chair whose alleged assault against his wife was pending as of our last issue (PPR #37). Jeddeloh was cleared of domestic violence allegations because Giusto promised not to arrest him if he sought treatment (Willamette Week, January 11). As a free man, Jeddeloh was appointed to the same public safety committee as Giusto, but because of Giusto's relationship with Jeddeloh's wife Lee, he allegedly asked Giusto to send an assistant or he would not attend the meeting (Tribune, January 27).

Perhaps Giusto's biggest challenge will be that he actually has an opponent in the race for Sheriff. Don DuPay, a former Portland cop who now is a strong advocate for medical marijuana users. Dupay promises to turn the empty Wapato jail into housing for the homeless and to remove the Sheriff's employees currently working as part of the Portland Joint Terrorism Task Force (Willamette Week, March 15).

[Mayfield screamer headline in Oregonian] Police Spying Updates

As Portland nears the one year mark of having its officers pulled from the Joint Terrorism Task Force, no public report has been made or announced regarding whether the two officers with "top secret" clearance have been called in to help the FBI spy on Americans.
In the case of Brandon Mayfield, the lawyer who was mistakenly identified as a suspect in the Madrid train bombing, the Justice Department squarely blamed the FBI for "shoddy analysis, lack [of] technical expertise, and serious and credible allegations of incompetence" (Oregonian, January 6).


People's Police Report #38 Table of Contents
People's Police Report Index Page
Return to Copwatch home page