People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Sixth Cop in Three Years Leaves Force for Sexual Misconduct;
A sixth Portland officer in the short span of three years has left the Bureau and turned in his badge.* The only thing that makes the case of Officer Rodney Murdock a minority among this group is that so far, he hasn't been charged with any crimes, unlike his predecessors Joseph Wild (PPR #48), Jason Faulk (PPR #43), Matthew Kohnke (also PPR #43), and John Wood (PPR #40), but like David Howe (PPR #43), who was never prosecuted. Murdock, who had been under investigation for nearly two years, and on paid leave for one year (at $71,656 a year!), resigned on September 30, two weeks after officers raided his Hillsboro home. The details of his misconduct have not been revealed, but the press says they revolve around "inappropriate contact with prostitutes and other women while on duty" (Oregonian, September 24 and October 3).
Coincidentally, days after Murdock's resignation, City Council voted on an out-of-court settlement of $27,500 for the "emotionally challenged" woman with whom Faulk had sex while on duty in 2007. Portland Copwatch (PCW) took the opportunity to testify to Council. For one, we felt that the amount seemed small for what amounted to an on-duty rape; however, we understand that the woman's lawyer didn't want to have to put her through a trial. This prompted us to follow up on the June letter we wrote to Council asking them to give gender bias training to Portland Police.
Commissioner Randy Leonard, who had one month earlier lectured African American activist JoAnn Bowman about a comment she made regarding racial profiling, launched into a tirade against PCW member Dan Handelman. Leonard stated that he regretted defending Handelman in private to Chief Sizer in the past because, he said, the comment about gender bias insulted all the police. Handelman replied that since the Bureau was teaching officers to deal with people in mental crisis with the Crisis Intervention Team training, and addressing profiling issues with the Racial Profiling Plan and cultural competency training, that maybe the officers could benefit from gender training as well. Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the Police Bureau, sat quietly, though Handelman also mentioned Saltzman had told PCW that his solution is to screen new officers when they are interviewed. How that helps the 900+ officers already on the force is unclear. It was a disappointing stance from the Commissioner who also heads up the City's Children's Investment Fund. But then, Saltzman also told a room that was packed with African American citizens complaining of racial profiling that profiling would probably not be ended in his lifetime.
According to Murdock's attorney, the officer agreed to be decertified because he had already found "other employment"; we hope that does not mean he has been hired as a private security guard (Oregonian, October 3). While not all security guards need DPSST certification, at least those with guns do.
For information about combating sexual abuse, contact the Portland Women's Crisis Line at 503-235-5333
Here's a recap on the 6 pervocops:
--November, 2006: Officer John Wood pleaded guilty to official misconduct, was placed on probation, and lost his certification for asking women to show him their underwear and/or tattoos during traffic stops.
--June, 2007: Officer David Howe, arrested in November 2006 in an undercover prostitution sting, resigned and gave up his police certification, but wasn't prosecuted because the DA couldn't interview Howe when he was on paid leave.
--October, 2007: Officer Matthew Kohnke pleaded no contest to official misconduct, resigned and gave up certification for, among other things, sexually violating a woman in a camp for homeless people.
--January, 2008: Officer Jason Faulk pleaded guilty to official misconduct, was placed on probation, resigned, and gave up his certification for having on-duty sex with an "emotionally challenged" woman.
--August, 2009: Officer Joseph Wild resigned two months after pleading not guilty to telephonic harassment and official misconduct charges for calling women and claiming he had sex with them, or threatening to rape them.
--October, 2009: Officer Rodney Murdock resigned and gave up his certification for unspecified contact with prostitutes and other women while on duty.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.