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Rapping Back #85:
Portland Copwatch member Dan Handelman analyzes Police "Union" social media
(formerly the"Rap Sheet" newsletter) for the People's Police Report

Self-proclaimed Saviors Suggest Supplementing Salaried Sentries

[screenshot of PPA site] As the harms of Facebook were revealed to the public, it appears the Portland Police Association (PPA) began forcing people to log in to their social media page to read their full articles. The change seems to have begun in mid-September. Despite our deliberate avoidance of Facebook, Portland Copwatch was still able to look at 70 posts on the PPA's Facebook page and website from mid-August to mid-December, in part through their webpage . Of those 70, a whopping 51 (73%) had to do either with the increase in visible crimes, the supposed shortage of police officers, or both.

The few other pieces included six (9%) about law enforcement officers who were shot, shot at or injured, including a PPB officer involved in serving a DEA warrant (see the Shootings article inthis issue). The PPA's August 27 article on the last incident says the situation which left the officer injured "resulted in an officer- involved shooting and the suspect is deceased."

Other topics included the PPA itself (two posts), posts remarking on Veterans Day and the 20th anniversary of 9/11, protests (two posts and also a focus of some of the staffing/crime stories), recent promotions (they approve-- August 31), and one brazen effort to lobby people to sign up to testify about the City Budget. This last item went up at 7 AM on November 9, the day before the vote, when the deadline to sign up was 4 PM.

Notably, the PPA's longtime President Daryl Turner, who took over as "Executive Director" in March after Officer Hunzeker had to step down due to scandal (see the Hunzeker Update in this issue), passed the leadership baton to Sgt. Aaron Schmautz. Schmautz was elected President and took office on Nov. 1, whereupon several of the posts reflected on his promises to keep doing the same things the PPA has always done, including his "aspirational" call to hire 100 more officers (KATU-TV2, reposted November 9).

It's interesting that the once-dominant type of story, trying to show the police are friendly neighbors, has been replaced by the combination of fear-mongering and the one-note solution that Portland needs more cops.

PCW has two items about Schmautz on our website. In PPR #43 we reported as an officer he sued a civilian because he (Schmautz) sustained injuries while breaking that person's arm in 2006. In our analysis of the OIR Group's 2020 Report on deadly force, we noted that as a Sergeant, Schmautz came on the scene after Patrick Kimmons was shot and personally went to detain the then-dying man, violating the principle that supervisors should not get involved in such incidents.

Connecting Crime / Staffing with Help from the Media

Normally in this column, each topic gets its own subsection. However, since the PPA repeatedly makes the case that they are supposedly short-staffed and that Portlanders should help them fill their coffers-- er, get more members-- um, push for more public safety on the streets because of the perceived rising crime rates, this section is a summary of the 51 pieces addressing those two issues.

There are at least 19 pieces from the media about the police responding to various shooting incidents. An additional three Facebook posts include cross-posting of Bureau information regarding violent incidents involving firearms.

For example, the PPA posted a story on August 18 from KOIN-6TV about a coffee shop owner who was attacked and then the suspect fought with police. PPA explains this is why they put up billboards asking whether people feel safe in Portland.

Stories about gunshot incidents and/or the homicide rate were posted from KOIN (August 12), the Oregonian (September 1, 14, 25, & October 20), KPTV-12 (September 28, with PPA commentary: "how safe do you feel?"), KATU-2TV (October 4,*- 1 PPA says "we can't feel safe on our streets," October 11&16, November 16), KGW- 8TV (October 13, also suggesting PPB is under-staffed*-2, October 26 & 30--with PPA comment that Public Safety should be a top priority), and the Associated Press (October 19, with a quote from a family member asking to "untie the hands" of the police). There are also reposts from the Bureau dated Sept. 30 (900th shooting), Oct. 25 (95 shell casings found at 19 shootings) and Nov. 2 (bullet hit headrest in car). Another story from KATU (September 22) highlighted a fourth grade girl who spoke to City Council about running for her life from gunfire, which the PPA underscored by asking people to read the headline a second time.

But other types of crime also caught the attention of the police rank-and-file. Another Associated Press article (from October 31) focuses on how Portland has lost its reputation not only because of the homicides but also due to "destructive protests," and a homeless "crisis." The PPA highlights parts of a November 1 story from KOIN in which Old Town organizations called for a 30 day plan to address housed and houseless people's fear that "drug abuse, mental health breakdowns and widespread gun ownership [will] result in a catastrophic situation."

The PPA published their own survey on August 17 showing the majority of their members have low morale, feeling unappreciated by City Hall, and many saying they would take a job somewhere else for less pay. With one commenter saying their job amounts to "moving the transients around and letting the criminals go free," the survey results show 90% of cops believe the District Attorney doesn't "pursue justice."

[political cartoon about cops abusing the claims of politicians 
having agenda]The media then helps PPA connect the non-provable dots between crime and the lowest number of Portland Police being employed in over 20 years. KPTV*-3 covered the PPA survey on August 18, quoting Turner saying the elected officials' political agenda drives a false narrative about police. Of course, the PPA doesn't have an agenda. KPTV also ran a story on August 19 quoting the Bureau's spokesperson, Lt. Greg Pashley, who by rank cannot be a member of the PPA. In an apparent political statement, Pashley says current limited police response to crime justifies demands for a larger budget. On October 10, Turner told KATU the Bureau is "running on fumes" and connected the violent crime rate to budget cuts.

Around the same time, KATU ran a story implying the Bureau needs twice as many officers, allowing Turner to take another swipe at politicians and their "agendas." The whole news story (from August 18) includes a quote from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty saying that having officers on every street corner would not have prevented the shooting death of an 18 year old downtown. They followed up on September 2 with a story where the PPA highlighted that 150 officers left the Bureau after August 2020 with 80 set to retire in 2022; the "agenda" quote appears yet again as Turner claims we're running a "Cadillac on a Volkswagen engine."

Out-of-towners jumping on the bandwagon include the Washington Times, which cites the PPA's statistics about the population of Portland going up, the number of officers going down, and the budget being cut from $238 million to $222 million (August 21). A Yahoo news story from Fox News (November 9) talks about the police shortage, record number of homicides, and, as PPA highlights, that the city is "dealing with a public safety crisis." Dan Abrams, a commentator with his own show on NewsNation, interviewed Turner (posted by PPA on October 19) saying the staffing level is the lowest of all cities with over 250,000 people, with no mention of the comparative crime rates. Despite the rampant gun violence, Portland's overall crime rate is still lower than most other cities.

In contrast, an Oregonian story from November 8, which quotes a PSU professor saying the City might have to hire 800 more officers, also says people should not look just at the raw numbers. The PPA highlighted the first quote but not the second.

There are also several opinion pieces pushing for more re-funding of police, including a September 20 Oregonian editorial, an op-ed from the next day by Commissioner Mingus Mapps, a September 22 letter calling for more 911 operators (PPA also represents those workers), and another op-ed comparing today's staffing levels to those of 1967 (October 17).

Then there are PPA's own posts, pushing their "ProtectPortland.org" website asking for Public Safety over politics (August 19). The posts say the connection between a lack of police and increased gun violence is "glaringly obvious" (September 23), laying out a five year plan for more officers (October 8), and calling Mayor Wheeler's proposal to invest in public safety during the fall budget cycle a "step in the right direction" (PPAvigil.org, November 3).

Interestingly, the PPA makes no reference at all to the People for Portland political action committee, which was during this time running its own well-funded campaign to push for more police using similar rhetoric. It may be that the PPA is one of the anonymous contributors to that cause and they were trying to distance themselves from the PAC... but that's just speculation.

PPA Special Focus on Protests

The Association still enjoys sidelining protestors while pretending to be even-handed. On August 20, as a planned neo-fascist protest was gearing up, the PPA wrote that if people were coming to "instigate," they should stay home and stop giving Portland a bad name. America, they say, is characterized by liberty and freedom and police have a role to support free speech. They claim to respond to criminal behavior, not to ideologies, even though it has consistently been leftist/anti- fascists who bear the brunt of PPB violence, not right-wing white supremacist crowds. As a button to this article, they ask people to sign the petition to Protect Portland, implying problems would be solved by adding more cops. As it turned out, the Police stayed away from the protests, allowing armed people to wander the streets, even though officers were kept from going on vacation in order to staff the event (see the Protests article in this issue).

On October 14, after people protested the lack of prosecution in the two years since activist Sean Kealiher was deliberately killed by a driver, the "union" reposted a Police Bureau article: "Anarchists damage businesses downtown." They don't seem to have asked the people who damaged property about their political philosophies. Chief Lovell referred to "brazen criminal acts" which targeted 35 "banks, retail stores, coffee shops and government buildings." He did not address why police haven't identified Kealiher's killer, who left their car behind at the crime scene.

On November 21, the PPA decried Portland's protest against the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict as "small riotous mobs bent on destruction."

The abovementioned interview with Daryl Turner on Dan Abrams' show also touched on protests. Turner (falsely) claimed new state law HB 2928 "limits de-escalation in crowd control." The law outlaws the use of chemical weapons, impact weapons and audio projection devices in most [screenshot of PPA site]circumstances. One could only interpret the use of these as "de-escalation" if officers first used a higher level of force, then resorted to these dangerous devices. Turner claims without pepper spray and "less lethals," the only choices are going hands-on or using deadly force. He claims the legislature had no input from law enforcement, which is also untrue. Abrams chimes in sarcastically "why talk to the police if you are defunding them?"

Hold People Accountable for Shootings

Perhaps not recognizing the irony, the PPA (probably Schmautz) posted on November 14 that they support Chief Lovell's comment about a person who shot at officers being "appalling." They call for whoever shot the gun to be held accountable. Wouldn't it be amazing if they said the same thing every time an officer fires a gun at a civilian?

*1-FWIW, the October 4 KATU story includes a quote from the sister of a man shot in 2019, before the so-called staffing crisis and the uptick in gun violence.
Back to text.

*2-The PPA conveniently ignored that the October 13 KGW story quoted Unite Oregon calling for money to fund non-police solutions.
Back to text.

*3- For those not from Portland, KPTV is the local Fox affiliate.
Back to text.

The Portland Police Association does not set policy. However, some PPA leadership express negative attitudes toward citizens and civilian oversight in their web postings. We worry these ideas may spread throughout Portland's ranks. The PPA's website is ppavigil.org.

  [People's Police Report]

January, 2022
Also in PPR #85

2021 Portland Police Shootings Quadruple 2020
  • State Deadly Force Incidents Taper Off in Second Half of 2021
City, DOJ Hash Out Remedies for Failed Compliance
Council Votes to "Re-fund the Police"
Lawsuits: City Pays Out More for Protest Actions
Citizen Committee Punts Whistleblower Case
Commission to Design Oversight Board Meets
Chief Overrides Review Board to Punish Two Cops
Houseless Community Faces More Private Security
Force Data Ignores Race at Training Council
Sheriff's Last 12 Months Start w/Vax Card Scandal
Organizers Set for Testimony on Terror Task Force
Bureau Agrees with Copwatch on One Policy
Updates PPR #85:
 • Almost No Progress on Police Association Contract
 • Suit: Former Police Assoc. Head Leaked Unconfirmed Info
 • Revamped Gun Team Forming; Profiling Numbers Unchanged
Rapping Back #85

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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