People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Gendarmes Gesture at Juggernaut: "J'Accuse"
The City's decision to refuse to give Officer Ron Frashour his job back despite an arbitrator's order (PPR #56 & article this issue) provoked a tirade of accusations and a trove of information coming from the Portland Police Association (PPA). In the June and July Rap Sheets, PPA President Daryl Turner minces few words pointing fingers at Mayor Adams, Chief Reese and his upper management, and most of all, former PPA President-turned-Training Lieutenant Robert King. (King has since moved out of Training and into the Chief's Public Information Office.) It's important to note that the PPA's membership includes officers and sergeants, while lieutenants and captains have a different collective bargaining unit. In general, Turner's theory is that the choice to fire Frashour was a political decision made before Adams took over as Police Commissioner and Reese became Chief three months after the shooting.
In his three page long June piece, Turner calls King's training review report on the shooting of Aaron Campbell "incomplete, inadequate and inaccurate." Turner asserts that all the trainers and witnesses say Frashour complied with his training, even though King came to the opposite conclusion. He says King told different stories, ignoring the criminal, grand jury and Internal Affairs investigations, by saying Frashour violated training. However, much of Turner's tirade is itself fast and loose with the facts. Turner claims King showed his proposed findings to 7-8 other people who disagreed with him and then stopped involving them; maybe we missed something (the transcript, released in part by the Oregonian, is over 150 pages long), but it's not clear that is what King said. Turner is correct that King admitted he didn't want the sergeants who work in the Training Division to conduct the review because of a reluctance by officers to criticize each other, because he felt it wasn't their job, and because of the volume and complexity of the material. While those actually seem like good arguments, that someone higher up the chain of command should be reviewing the actions of line officers and sergeants, Turner found the reasoning "shocking" and "an insult."
Turner also claims that the eleven or so officers in the Training Division had trained "thousands" of officers over the years-- really? Our Bureau has a total of just over 900 officers who vary in experience from rookie to over 25 years.
But maybe the most questionable of Turner's "facts" comes when he says King ignored "forensic evidence that Mr. Campbell was struck by only one bean bag round on the back of his left leg at the knee, and not in the waistband area." It is fairly often repeated throughout the arbitration documents that the "beanbags" hit Campbell at least 2-3 times, and PPA Attorney Will Aitchison says the hits were on the "buttocks or upper thigh." Where did Turner get his information? Does he need an anatomy lesson?
Turner also uses the tired trope (which King also relied on heavily in his day) that multiple investigations found "no wrongdoing" by Frashour. However, some of these processes-- the Grand Jury and the US Dept. of Justice-- only examined whether Frashour was in criminal violation of any laws. They didn't ask whether he followed the Bureau's policy and training.
Turner also turns his sights on Assistant Chief O'Dea who (says Turner) thought a .22 bullet couldn't go through a sliding glass door; then-North Precinct Commander Jim Ferraris, who Turner sarcastically says testified "with all of the connection to real-world policing as you'd imagine"; and Chief Reese, who Turner inaccurately reports never spoke to the Trainers because Captain Day told him they were "disgruntled." (In reality, Reese said people had been asked to leave the Training Division, and appears to have speculated they were "disgruntled.") While Turner blames Ferraris, the Use of Force Review Board (UFRB) and Reese for relying on King's analysis, he concludes that King was the worst. The man that once held the same office as Turner didn't stand up on principle as is his "moral and civic obligation."
At the UFRB in August 2010, King apparently implied several people saw his review, but several Trainers contradicted him. Eleven Trainers at arbitration said he didn't ask them, but instead described a "tense meeting" where King supposedly told them "the elephant in the room is we shot and killed an unarmed black man." Turner says King differentiated between a "potential threat" and an "immediate threat," noting Campbell never drew a weapon. Turner says nobody would teach you to wait to see a weapon. "Our training is exactly to the contrary," claims Turner, thus implying that it's open season on unarmed civilians.
Now, Turner laments, two families are devastated, Campbell's and Frashour's. He accuses Mayor Adams and his staff of acting in their own self interest, prompting the rank and file to lose faith. Throwing down the gauntlet, Turner claims that five separate bodies have ruled Frashour in policy, so the City should get an independent opinion.
In his July column, Turner assures the membership that the PPA will win its unfair labor practice filing with the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB). "Over the years the PPA has vigorously represented its members when the City relied on politics, not facts, to discipline PPA members. Officers Doug Erickson [who shot Gerald Gratton] and Scott McCollister [who shot Kendra James] have tasted the bitter reality of political discipline. But they were vindicated." To us, this is a veiled way of saying, "Don't worry, the system is rigged in our favor."
Turner argues that the City agreed to binding arbitration, not arbitration based on "political winds." He contrasts the PPB's push for "integrity and transparency" with the City's efforts to keep the transcripts of the arbitration from being released. Turner claims that no court order prevents their release--but as far as we know, he's not an attorney. He also notes that the City released the Grand Jury transcripts, the IA investigation and the Training review "before Frashour could drive from the Justice Center to his home." OK, well, PPA, if you are, as you say, now in favor of transparency, let's see all the documents from the Keaton Otis shooting, and all other arbitrations! As noted by the Portland Mercury, which ran several articles on the pissing match (for example, one on July 5 focusing on the July Rap Sheet), Turner claims the City doesn't want the arbitration transcripts to "< i>see the light of day." He says they will prove the firing was "politically motivated."
Turner critiques Adams for holding Trimet to a handshake deal on bus passes for students, but not respecting PPA's written contract. "And he calls me a bully." He refers to Adams' asking the Auditor to look into the arbitration matter "calling the PPA's 'bluff' in response to [the June] Rap Sheet." The Auditor isn't neutral, says Turner, because she gave $250,000 to OIR Group for the shootings reviews. OIR praised King's training review (see article) even though Turner says it was "riddled with holes, omissions, incorrect information and the stench of politics." He concludes that the City has a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality, and thinks "that is wrong."
In the June Rap Sheet, Secretary-Treasurer Tom Perkins urges PPA members to "Get 'R Done" by going in for the sham health and fitness test that is little more than a blood draw (PPR #56). With their deadline for the 2011-12 fiscal year approaching, he reminded them that they could receive premium pay if they passed just three of four categories: Blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index. And, you can go back a second time if you fail the first test!
In June's Rap Sheet, Retired Captain Scott Winegar, who broke activist Craig Rosebraugh's arm in 1999 (PPR #19), let his old buddies in the PPA know he is now teaching a certification course on Homeland Security at Portland's Concordia College. Winegar notes that it is easy for cops to get the degree, and "good for your career" if you leave the force "or someone else decides you shouldn't be a cop any more." No doubt Ron Frashour has a standing invitation if the ERB rules in the City's favor.
Winegar's teachers included FBI agents and the NYPD. He says his training was "top notch" though many schools such as in Colorado are inferior, as they "offer degrees in Homeland Security and refrigeration repair." Hate to break it to you, Capt. Winegar, but Concordia is rated #88 in Western Regional schools, below University of Portland, Pacific University, George Fox University, Southern and Western Oregon Universities, in US News' rankings. And PSU's rank isn't published.
In his August column, PPA President Daryl Turner complains how the "media goes to great lengths to point out the isolated instances when our actions come under attack," saying they (unlike the PPA, we're sure he means) "write what sells with no regard to accuracy, honesty or fairness." He adds that the media like to "attack, criticize and question our work" to get readers and ad money.
We sometimes point out how the Rap Sheet celebrates conservative values; in PPR #55 we wrote about an advertiser warning folks to get their guns while they still can. In the August issue, the Rap Sheet editors decided to run a piece from The Truth About Guns.com about soaring sales in California. Its author, who goes by the screen name Sanchanim (which may be taken from an Israeli word for paratrooper) raises the alarm that the July movie theater shooting in Colorado proves you can't wait 90 seconds for help to show up, so people should buy guns. (Presumably, that doesn't include people who want to go into movie theaters to shoot others.) He claims our bad political situation includes the "looming ATT" (of course, you knew that stood for Arms Trade Treaty, didn't you?) and President Obama causing the public to be "loosing" their 2nd amendment rights to own or "bare" firearms. Maybe Sanchanim (aka Daniel Silverman, according to his Twitter page) should focus on his writing skills before he works on getting more weapons. And maybe the Rap Sheet should be more level headed about guns, since the police are worried about all the "gang" shootings in Portland.
In PPR #56, we reported the Rap Sheet focused on the increasing use of unmanned drone aircraft. In the July Rap Sheet, the PPA linked to an article from the Associated Press (July 1) on the Los Angeles Police Department using "predictive policing." Like the TV show "Person of Interest," a computer program is used to predict where and when crimes will happen, dispatching officers to "prediction boxes" of a few blocks in radius. According to the article, the new program is based on one that predicts earthquake aftershocks, and has led to the Foothill Division of the LAPD having a 13% reduction in burglary and property crimes, including one incident where they came across a man breaking a window. However, the article also cites law professor Andrew Guthrie Ferguson at University of DC, who is concerned that the trend could lead to 4th Amendment violations such as racial profiling and stereotyping. If the computer tells a cop a man with a bag might be suspicious, and the cop uses that in court to justify an otherwise illegal stop, Ferguson says, "you can't cross-examine a computer."
Find the Rapsheet at: www.pparapsheet.org
The PPA's website is: www.ppavigil.org
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.