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Rapping Back #68
Flatfoots Find Fascinating Facts on Facebook

The Rap Sheet is Dead? Long Live the Rap Sheet

For over 20 years, we have followed the exploits of the Portland Police Association by monitoring their print, then online newsletter, the Rap Sheet. Since mid-December, there have been about fifteen postings to the official Rap Sheet site, , mostly items from cop news hub . Even fewer were added to the PPA's site . As is the trend in the era of social media, most of the information we're looking for can now be found at the PPA's Facebook page, .

This poses a bit of a challenge for our old-timey print newsletter, since the number of pieces posted actually increased because of the nature of Facebook. However, we will continue to publish this column so long as the PPA continues to provide new material for us to share, analyze, and satirize. We culled through 65 posts from the last four months, and this is what we found:

The largest number of posts (24) were reposts of items from the Bureau itself, including a link to a Buzzfeed article (February 24) that featured what the PPA called a "way too Portland" hand- scrawled note on a PPB business card. The note read "Your passenger door was scuffed up a tiny bit during the course of an arrest." There was a picture of Mounted Patrol officers carrying light sabres (December 18), a kid wearing a Spider-man outfit who "helped" the downtown foot patrol (February 18), and a hint at the second-most-frequent-topic, understaffing, in a post about the PPB cutting its summer camp for kids. That piece prompted disgraced retiree cop Rob Blanck to post a reply trash-talking programs like DARE and GREAT since the short time cops spend with youth can't change their entire lives. Jim McCausland, the last credited Rap Sheet editor, wrote back telling Blanck, essentially, to shut up, stay retired, and focus on the positive.

The 10 articles about not having enough officers on the force mostly focused on other cities: San Diego (February 22), Commerce City, CO (February 21), Pittsburgh (February 19) , Phoenix (February 17), Olympia (February 4), and Vancouver (January 26). Another article talked about Utah prioritizing school resource officers while the PPB "is talking about cutting the program" here (February 10). But the bonus piece was PPA President Daryl Turner quoting himself on Oregonlive (December 15) about how the Bureau is shuffling officers around to fill gaps, in which he said. "If you are short a player on a baseball team, you don't put a catcher in to play shortstop."

The rest of the pieces included five about the officer who was killed in Seaside (p. 7), four profiles of officers from other media, and nine that connected or were identical to Rap Sheet posts. Four more Facebook posts get us to the next topic.

PPA Survey Undercuts Its Stated Purpose--Trying to Scare Up More Cops

The biggest news the PPA managed to make, generating a large post on the Rap Sheet in January and four Facebook pieces related to media coverage, was about a survey they conducted (over Survey Monkey) under Turner's headline: "Our Bureau is broken and we need to fix it." Obviously, the PPA is not saying there is too much violence, racism and no accountability. Rather, Turner picks up on the theme we've noted in the last few issues, complaining there are not enough officers on the streets, which leads to low morale. 97% of the 700 or so officers who responded (about 82% of the PPA's membership) made that connection. They also said that staffing levels are connected to crime rates-- which is not necessarily supported by any evidence other than the poll. They could mean it's appropriate to cut police when you have a low crime rate, as we have in Portland. This is clearly not Turner's point since a PPA-related website, , compares Portland to other similarly sized cities and implies we need more officers to keep up. But of course, that chart doesn't include crime rates.

The biggest blunder of the PPA's public relations in this survey is a question about recommending someone else take a job in Portland, and 80% said they would not do so. So, PPA, if your solution is to go recruit more officers, how do you expect that to happen when the rank and file are telling people not to come here?

Other points of interest: Despite representing only Sergeants, Detectives and Officers, Turner says Chief O'Dea should listen to him because many in the command staff have also lost faith in his leadership. He adds, "It's evident to the men and women who do the heavy lifting in the patrol, investigative and support ranks that Chief O'Dea's leadership style does not allow for meaningful input from the boots on the ground." The Rap Sheet post also says many officers are looking for jobs elsewhere (which may be ok, since only about 30% of Portland Police live in Portland-- PPR #66), and the Bureau is no longer seen as the "crown jewel" of Oregon law enforcement. (However, who does get that regal title is not revealed.)

Going back to some favorite tropes, Turner exclaims that "gang" violence has spiked beyond record levels, and "Insufficient staffing prevents us from proactively engaging with the public, proactively preventing crime, and from investigating and solving crimes expeditiously."

The coverage of the survey, as noted on the PPA Facebook page, includes stories from KGW (January 12), the Portland Tribune (January 13), and a promo and the audio link to Turner appearing on OPB's "Think Out Loud" on January 14. In that follow up post, a comment from Jeff Roorda refers to "Fergusonistan, the war on police" and mentions that Portland officers were punished for their "First Amendment" support of Officer Darren Wilson (who killed Michael Brown). This ignores that the officers were disciplined because they violated the Bureau's Conduct Directive (p.7).

Police Unclear on the Concept: Civil Rights and Labor

The Rap Sheet seems to be trying to make up for the PPA's appropriation of the "Black Lives Matter" slogan (when they put up billboards saying "Having Enough Police Matters"-- PPR #67) by touting civil rights. Turner thanked the members of the PPA for coming to a "union" meeting along with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and the quote: "The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress." In February, an article about Black History month was adorned with a picture of Nelson Mandela saying "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate."

The Association intends to show solidarity with the civil rights and labor movements by mentioning how MLK was supporting sanitation workers in 1968 when he was assassinated. "America's union movement champions those who lack a voice in our society. Union members played a critical role in the civil rights struggles of the past, and that involvement continues today." But it ignores that police officers were involved in firehosing, beating, and unleashing dogs on civil rights marchers in the 50s and 60s, and beating and helping criminalize members of labor unions throughout the country's history. Probably not the critical role they're trying to invoke here.

In March, they posted an article (from the Greeley CO Tribune via PoliceOne) about a proposed bill (the "Blue Lives Matter Act") to classify the targeted killing of an officer a hate crime. The article's author says the bill "comes at a time when many officers feel under attack from those who blame all officers for the actions of a few." The Weld County Sheriff is quoted countering "what makes the assault, or the murder, of a person of a specific background any more or less heinous than someone who doesn't fit into one of those categories?" Maybe it should be noted that taking on a state job is not the same as one's race, gender, religion, or sexual identity.

The article about the "Blue Lives Matter Act" reports that 124 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2015, only 52 (42%) by criminal activity. While the overall number is up slightly from 2013 (107) and 2014 (117), it does not match the number listed in another article in March's Rap Sheet about Police Memorial Week claiming 120-140 officers are killed each year.

The Portland Police Association does not set policy. However, some PPA leadership and officers express negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their newspaper. We worry these ideas may spread throughout Portland's ranks. The Rap Sheet is at <www.PPARapSheet.org>; the PPA's website is <www.ppavigil.org>.

  People's Police Report

May, 2016
Also in PPR #68

Law to Shield Cops Defeated
  Fired Cop Reinstated
  OR State Shootings--141 in 6 Years
Sheriff May Resign Due to Scandals
DOJ Board Unclear on Policy Input
Bureau Boycotts Review Board
Profiling: State Spying, CPRC Meets
More Sweeps Despite Camping Rules
Report Exposes Racist, Sexist Cops
PPB Policy Review Suspended
Updates PPR 68
  • Cop Exonerated in Mistaken ID Case
  Mayor's Race and Police Issues
  Copcams on the Horizon in Portland
Quick Flashes PPR 68
  Another PPB Pervocop Gone
  Training Facility Used for Violent Fundraiser
  Motorcyclist Kicked by Cop Wins $180K
  MN Copwathers Seek Self-Insurance for Cops
Rapping Back #68

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

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