The police need our support and our vigorous oversight.

Jason Renaud is co-founder of the Mental Health Association of Portland and a candidate for Portland City Commissioner, Position No. 3 – currently held by Dan Saltzman. For more information see www.jasonforportland.com.

Over the past week Police Chief Rosie Sizer and Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman have been backpedaling in damage control mode, trying to assure police officers and local advocates their careers and reputations aren't in tatters.

In their hurry to discipline Officer Christopher Humphreys, they missed an opportunity to learn a vital truth about cops. They're human.

The video shows Officer Aaron Dauphy grab the girl's head, grasping her hair, and shoving her toward the ground. As he pushes she lashes out, fingers splayed, toward his head, fighting back. Resisting.

Humphreys moves to assist Dauphy, using his body and arms to encircle and contain the struggling girl.

Suddenly Humphreys steps back and unshoulders his shotgun.

I'm not a weapons expert. I see that gun and I think, “shotgun.” And I think, “he's going to kill her.”

Dauphy and the girl are down on the concrete. Humphreys moves mechanically, methodically shifting his aim, seeking a target, a portion of the girl's flesh away from his partner. The muzzle of his shotgun twitches.

I wonder what the girl thought as she saw Humphreys looming over her, shouting and aiming a shotgun at her.

How about, “He's going to kill me.”

And you're surprised the kid continued to struggle?

After being disciplined by Sizer and Saltzman, Humphreys filed a claim for disability because he believes he has acquired a “stress-related disorder,” which is labor parlance for what psychiatrists call either Acute Stress Disorder or a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I don't want to do his job. But I don't want him doing his job, either.

Humphreys now agrees with those urging him and others who beat James Chasse to resign. He's done the right thing by stepping away from his crazy role as an armed enforcer of train tickets.

As an advocate for persons with mental illness, I am proud of him. Proud of him for recognizing his limitations and his dangerousness. Proud he's taking the first step towards getting help and admitting he can't handle it on his own.

But I am most proud he has the good sense to ignore his comrades and superiors who urged him to soldier on, toughen up, make a monster of a 12 year old girl, a child, just to rationalize a crazy situation. They're trying to kill his soul.

Those who ignore the dangerousness of a police officer with active Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder working around children with a shotgun filled with lead pellet bags do so at our peril.

Humphreys has effectively done what so many of us asked him to do, which is stop being a police officer. Now he can get the help he needs to stop being dangerous and get on with his life.

Three years have gone by since James Chasse was killed and a basic truth is, talk is cheap. Our Police Commissioner doesn't get it – he can't speak in public about his decision to leave Humphreys on the streets. Our Police Chief doesn't get it - she doesn't have the tools to remove dangerous officers from duty until they're on the front page of the newspaper. Their attempt to control the message, both then and
now, is transparent – and a failure.

What we learn from community conversation about these incidents – an innocent man with schizophrenia or a 12 year old girl - is active and potent civilian oversight of police provides a necessary check and balance, which must be public and transparent and used.

Comments

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
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    In their hurry to discipline Officer Christopher Humphreys, they missed an opportunity to learn a vital truth about cops. They're human.

    How sweet. They're over empowered, under educated gang members that tend to believe in a simplistic black and white view of the world and go about trying to project a pseudo-military demeanor. It's our best guess at dealing with violent crime. "We have someone more violent, so you'd better watch out". There are no positives to be taken from the PPB. Dealing with them is like trying to dress a trip to the proctologist up as a fun, new, learning experience.

    "There's nothing so vulgar as a policeman" - Sherlock Holmes

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    How sweet. They're over empowered, under educated gang members that tend to believe in a simplistic black and white view of the world and go about trying to project a pseudo-military demeanor. It's our best guess at dealing with violent crime. "We have someone more violent, so you'd better watch out". There are no positives to be taken from the PPB. Dealing with them is like trying to dress a trip to the proctologist up as a fun, new, learning experience.

    Really?

    These are people who put their lives on the line every day. Some of them are actually very good at their job--not thugs, not "empowered gang members", either. Like any other place of employment, there are people who know their job and do it well. There are others who don't. But some broad brush, asshat BS commentary on the entire group is just wrong.

    Your comment is ugly and demeaning, LB. It's also unnecessary and frankly, smacks of ignorance. I'm unable to see the point..so perhaps you'd care to rephrase and actually make a salient one?

  • Barone' (unverified)
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    Not having heard the audio from this event, one can only hope that the police had informed her that they wanted to talk to her , informed her she was banned from the MAX, asked her to stop, told her to put her hands up ..etc. She decided ,in your words, to resist the police. Once you have crossed that line, you should know there will be action taken by the officers. Did they know if she was armed? They go to work each day uninjured and want to go home the same way. You want to be the one to tie our police department's ability to protect us when you get elected??

  • pacnwjay (unverified)
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    What Carla said....!!!

  • Chris Faddis (unverified)
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    I'm a 37 year old man, a paralegal, and member of a number of conservative social organizations. I'm a Catholic lay deacon and the youth minister at our church. Point is, my appearance and behavior don't cause alarm.

    I live in NC, but am originally from P'land. I was visiting last summer, witnessed a large midnight trash dump onto parks land, and called the police to report it.

    The report went simply enough, but, moments after the police left, I remember something else I had to ask them. They were just entering the squad car. As I approached, the driver stepped partially out, staying behind the door and a second officer took up a "shooter's position" behind his door, telling me to keep my hands where he could see them. I asked my question, and then I got mad.

    "Putting their lives on the line, daily"? You have got to be kidding. They put my life on the line to have a trivial conversation! Fewer PPB officers are killed in the line of duty than pedestrians and cyclists trying to reduce our carbon footprint. Do you show the same level of respect? Nowhere near. Cycling in Portland instead of using a car is putting your life on the line daily.

    It's pretty disappointing that a major contributor to Blue Oregon, addressing this very serious subject, would take my 8 year old's attitude, "but aren't the police the good guys"? I'm also pretty sick of this PC correct "I'll give you another chance to say that right" shtick.

    There's always a bright side, though. In this case, more time to read HuffPo!

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    It's pretty disappointing that a major contributor to Blue Oregon, addressing this very serious subject, would take my 8 year old's attitude, "but aren't the police the good guys"? I'm also pretty sick of this PC correct "I'll give you another chance to say that right" shtick.

    I'm pretty disappointed that a person who might otherwise have written an intelligent and interesting comment would so simplistically get mine wrong.

    What I said was (nutshell): there are people that are good at the job and people that are bad at the job. Broad brushing them all is wrong and frankly, ignorant.

    Fewer PPB officers are killed in the line of duty than pedestrians and cyclists trying to reduce our carbon footprint.

    If you're expecting to be taken seriously--that comment completely undermines your chances. More people are murdered in Oregon than firefighters killed on the job. Does that mean that firefighters don't put their lives on the line when they fight a fire--as part of their duty?

    Of course not.

    Demeaning the work that the good people in public safety and service are trying to do serves nothing.

  • Roy M (unverified)
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    @Chris - You think your life was on the line because the police took a defensive position when you approached?

    Trouble is folks want to keep "training" the police, instead it could be the other way around. Did you ever stop to think that cops are most vulnerable when getting in or out of their squad car? That is probably trained into them. Do you think all bad guys look like bad guys?

    Every time one cop takes an incorrect or illegal action there is a rush to "train" all of the rest of them. This includes those who have never had any issues with use of force, illegal stops, diversity concerns, or any other aspect of the job. It's CYA for the City and the insurers. Trouble is, it never gets to the heart of the problem.

    The buck starts in the hiring process, not just oversight. Once a bad one gets in, its hard to get him/her out. Past character traits and in depth backgrounds can save the day. The mentioned incident aside, more of us in the public should be educated about why the police operate as they do. That way when criticism is made, is has solid merit.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    I can't see that the PPB have evolved since first US policewoman Lola Baldwin was policing Old Town in 1905. She would have shot that girl. I have no doubt Baldwin meant well. She did monumental damage wherever she went though. People talked as much of oversight then, and had the same token structures in place. A lifetime on, no progress has been made.

    OSU archives state: Baldwin's career reveals a culturally conservative, gender-specific policing strategy. Through measures designed to preserve traditional standards as the norm, she and others labored to codify the Victorian model of female moral purity, and make it relevant to the post-Victorian city. She and her reform cohort evolved an elaborate institutional apparatus of social control to deal with what they defined as deviant behavior. They targeted the female "sexual delinquent" as the anti-thesis of their ideal of a standardized social morality ethic.

    "Standardized social morality ethic". That's another way of saying, "human domestication". Add this post to Jenson's and you can see how far Anglo society is behind Teutonic society. Or just count how many will say, "those kids lack basic values". While raising the $10 corp min tax to $150 is soooo dicey we've got to refer it to the voters, prisons already has their hefty biennial increase. "Criminality" is still the strongest prod Farmer State carries. Very, very, very, few people you will ever meet will deconstruct the concept and think for themselves where it has been invoked.

    But I ramble. No doubt the posters on this thread will make that point quite eloquently, by negation!

  • PeteJacobsen (unverified)
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    Jason and Carla, I could tell you my story of police brutality, but I won't bother. Both of you seem to agree that there are some policemen that should not be policemen for reasons that might lead to excessive violence.

    Tell me how the city can remove those policemen? Jason, if you want the job, how about a good idea here? I, for one, won't feel that the police make me safer until there is a known, working way to cull inappropriate policemen from the force.

  • Peri Brown (unverified)
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    Trouble is folks want to keep "training" the police, instead it could be the other way around. Did you ever stop to think that cops are most vulnerable when getting in or out of their squad car? That is probably trained into them.

    Exactly the way the military have to let Obama know that he doesn't get them and their mission. The test? Is he pandering to their pre-determined, self-defined notions of mission, or holding on to that naive palliative that the civil leader is in control of the military?

    Same deal. Your attitude explains to those that don't understand, how it is so easy for us to kill and feel justified doing it.

    The point about cyclists is the best I've read on here in some time! In fact, it's a transcendentally fine point. How many PPB bike cops would have acted that way? Impossible to even conceive of it. I'm also tired of the double standard. Tiger gets checked for alcohol when there's no evidence to suggest it. Was the officer involved tested for steroid use? Most look and act like regular users. Easier to believe the Seattle defensive line isn't using, by looks, than most PPB offriskers. No doubt the girl was tested.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Peter, no Portland police officer has ever been terminated for use of force. Both sides in this debate are rigid and unyielding, both have limitless evidence they'd like to introduce, both have advocates willing to throw down.

    The pro forma judge - an engaged police commissioner - is absent without leave from this Portland debate, also irritating both sides.

    The steps to true reform will be incremental, irritating to both sides. Removing union contract protected employees takes an agreed upon process. New contract negotiations between the Portland Police Association and the City of Portland begin in January with the current, disengaged, commissioner, Dan Saltzman representing.

    Like that scenario?

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    After being disciplined by Sizer and Saltzman, Humphreys filed a claim for disability because he believes he has acquired a “stress-related disorder,” which is labor parlance for what psychiatrists call either Acute Stress Disorder or a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

    Did he develop that after or before he went rogue? Or just because he got caught?

    I had a hand in murdering hundreds if not thousand of human beings under government sanctions. It weighs on me every day. That still doesn't get me a disability.

    Maybe I should get down to the VA.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    BOHICA, I think you're trying to be flip, but you have your finger right on why this is a complex and troubling issue.

    What do you mean by "after or before he went rogue?"

    If you mean after Humphreys received, according to his claim, an on-the-job psychiatric injury, sometimes called PTSD? These are hard to recognize mental illnesses, a form of anxiety, coupled with significant political and societal pressure on those injured to suppress or deny their injury.

    We don't know today when, or really if, Humphreys became mentally ill. And if he is not ill and has been advised to take safe harbor of a disability claim to evade discipline, that's despicable and intolerable.

    What we must flip our thinking about is the idea that "rogue" is equal to "wounded warrior," and medical intervention - not legal intervention - will save careers, marriages, and lives.

  • Ricky (unverified)
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    <<the muzzle="" of="" his="" shotgun="" twitches.="">>>

    LOL!!!!!!!

  • DSS (unverified)
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    "... a second officer took up a shooter's position behind his door... They put my life on the line to have a trivial conversation!"

    No, they took a defensive position because they didn't know you from Adam.

    I'm good at my job, but sometimes I make mistakes. (Stay with me here; I'm not comparing use of force to a simple mistake.) Sometimes I forget to take precautions, sometimes I'm not as protective as I should be with certain procedures.

    But even if I screw up really bad, I'll go home that night and think, "Gosh, that was stupid of me; I should have done better."

    For a police officer, a screwup can mean that he or she doesn't go home ever again.

    If you'd turned out to be some nut like James VonBruun or Maurice Clemmons, they wouldn't have gotten another chance to replay that scenario. So, each of those officers would rather take a simple precaution than have to explain to a widow that the guy didn't look all that threatening until he started firing.

    A slim chance of that happening, to be sure... but ask the Lakewood Police Department just how slim those chances are.

  • Willy Socket (unverified)
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    For a police officer, a screwup can mean that he or she doesn't go home ever again.

    Look at the numbers. It most often means that we never go home again.

    Who says Portlanders aren't religious? The Cult of the Most Holy Cop seems alive and thriving!

    That's fine. Let's support those that have a higher prob of dieing than cops, doing their job. People holding the "slow" sign in a construction zone, for example.

    Bet you don't get a dittohead on this one. Too many regulars doin' it fer 'em! You all bring new meaning to "who guards the guards".

    Posted by: Ricky | Dec 10, 2009 10:59:53 AM

    <>>

    LOL!!!!!!!

    People really can't tell this from the boob tube, can they?

  • ws (unverified)
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    There are police officers with sufficiently good judgment and self control to do the job of being a police officer. Humphreys seems to be lacking in those areas. There was his involvement with the other cops in...whatever they did to bust up Chasse's chest; exactly what they did still does not seem to be known.

    And now, the infamous incident documented on video, showing Humphreys with his beanbag loaded shotgun, intently taking aim at and shooting the 14 year girl, even though the Tri-met security guy, with her on the ground, already had a hold on the girl.

    How much harder would it have been for Humphreys to exert a little muscle and help the Tri-met guy, by grabbing her feet or arms, or just waiting awhile until the girl played herself out a bit? But that would have meant that Humphrey's might have had to get down and wrestle around on the ground a bit...maybe get his uniform dirty and his gear, such as the shotgun, scratched up....or, have to actually 'touch' the suspect; no time to put on the latex gloves?

    Humphreys had the shotgun with beanbag loads. That meant that if he chose not to, he could use it and wouldn't have to muck around on the ground, work up a sweat under the bulletproof vest. Cool.

    One of Humphreys fellow officers, on patrol with him on a night the two confronted some homeless guys in front of McCormick and Schmicks downtown, has publicly and formally complained about Humphrey's violent and excessive tendencies. The story was in the Oregonian.

    I very much doubt though, that Humphreys applying for work related stress release accurately implies that he believes there is anything wrong with the way he behaves towards the people he pledges to serve. That gesture on his part more likely indicates a standard move the police union or the department regards as good counter strategy, helpful in eventually dismissing any possibility of charges against an officer.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    It is my understanding that Humphreys has quite the record for excessive use of force complaints. Did some googling but can't find much since this latest incident has gobbled up all search terms.

    If he was indeed unstable earlier, the PPB leadership are culpable for damages. Its their job to recognize untoward behavior.

    These are hard to recognize mental illnesses

    Not if one is alert to its (PTSD) manifestations. Maybe I'm just more attuned to these because I've seen enough vets who suffer from it.

    With all the news about vets coming back from combat, you would think professionals would have some sensitivity to the issue.

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    How many officers were wearing "I am Chris Humphrey" t-shirts last week? Sure looked like a healthy minority of the force. If they're going to assert such common cause, I don't think it's out of bounds to assess a couple hundred fellow cops the same way as with Humphries.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    I've asked Portland's auditor to investigate the coincidence of officers claiming a mental illness (or stress-related disability) coinciding with discipline. There have been several high profile examples of this at the PPB since Chief Penny Harrington tried it in, I think, 1985.

    She was intrigued, but more external pressure in the form of public attention to this seeming evasion will help her reach a decision.

    That officers might be gaming the system won't surprise skeptics, but solid assurance of capable civilian oversight and consequences for bad behaviors is one of the many paths toward reform.

  • Ed Garren (unverified)
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    There are always opinions about incidents and issues after they happen. Having two family members who were or are in law enforcement, I always understand that police officers are "human" and have a tough job to do. I don't think Officer Humphrey's is a bad person, and his decision to stay out on stress leave may be the only intelligent decision that anyone has made regarding this matter.

    But there is also the "Macro", the leadership, and management aspects of these incidents. Somewhere between the Police Officers Unions duty to protect it's members and the community's concerns about excessive force and racial profiling is "reality" that needs to be uncovered, and utilized to form a better management paradigm than what we are currently seeing.

    The rush to "fix" the situation may be the problem here. By caving into the union demands, the issue will see less light, not more. Dialogue was diminished, not enhanced.

    THAT is the problem here, not who is "right" or "wrong." Everyone has a perspective, and from our subjective place, we're all "right." The trick is, not to let someone's "right" inflict even more damage on an already fragile relationship.

    Ed Garren, MA, LMFT Candidate for Seat #3 Portland City Commission also a Mental Health Professional Oregon License #T0539

  • Adam12 (unverified)
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    Now is the time to put this activity to rest. I do not want to be guarded by armed thugs. Any member of the PPB that acts in this fashion needs to be removed from this position of responsibility.

    I am a commercial electrician- any mistake I make will maim or kill me. This is a risk I take daily - and that is why I get paid quite well. They take these risks and are adequately compensated - especially for their average education level.

    Portland used to be a Community Policing City, now our city commissioners are afraid of the police ?

    If you are sanctioned to carry a gun or use deadly force your profession stands alone. The milk man does not carry a gun, and cannot legally beat me senseless or to death for not following his commands. Were you to abuse this PRIVELEDGE it must be revoked by the representatives of the people. Just looking at how our Commissioner is afraid of the bureau he oversees sickens me.

    How would you put your shoulder into this, Jason ?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Let's remember a basic rule about most organizations of people. They are likely to have the best and worst of people with most somewhere in between. There are exceptions, but police departments are not among them. The question is, "Which will prevail - the good guys or the bad?" Given the fear that is in most people's minds, at this time we run the risk of excessive violence getting the upper hand.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    Just because they are doing a high risk job, does not entitle them to bully us by mentioning it constantly. Just because it is high risk, Does not entitle them to be bullies.

    The PPB needs anger management counceling of every and all officers, inluding the cheif. There also needs to be and investigation of the police union who seems to have a stranglehold on any person who oversees them. I only say this because when Kroker made a good decision years ago, the union harassed and intimidated Katz until she fired Kroker. It did not surprise me that the union blew a gasket over Saltzmans decision and it didn't suprise me that the union, basically, intimidated Saltzman to flip his decision.

    The union is as much to blame in this as is the officer involved. My question to the union: why do you act like 6 year olds when a decision does not go your way? And then intimidate your superiors until you do get your way?

    Until we break the hold of power by the union, we will continue to have officers who love to bully people because they can, and feel entitled to because they are trained in the notion that everyone is a threat (even a 6 month old baby), and that all people are guilty until proven innocent.

    Thats why we need to implement anger management counceling for all officers.

  • DSS (unverified)
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    "But that would have meant that Humphrey's might have had to get down and wrestle around on the ground a bit..."

    It's easy to second-guess after the fact. If he had put his gun down to help, and then someone used or stole the unattended gun, you'd probably be calling for his head just the same.

    I'm not going to second-guess, because I'm not an expert on what these situations entail. For example, was this girl frisked already? Was it confirmed that she was not carrying a knife or other weapon?

    "Just because they are doing a high risk job, does not entitle them to bully us by mentioning it constantly."

    Let's draw a distinction between a usual "high risk job" and what it means to be a police officer.

    When an electrician is working with high (potentially deadly) voltage, are potential incidents likely to be ACCIDENTAL or INTENTIONAL?

    I don't suppose that an electrician ever was correcting a faulty circuit when said circuit made a sentient and calculated attempt to kill him?

    It's one thing to have a job where you work in a hazardous environment. It's quite another to have a job where, at any given point in your day, it's possible that someone will TRY TO KILL YOU.

    I'm not saying that fact always excuses excessive force, but rather the small extra step of precaution (i.e: taking a defensive position behind a car door) is warranted.

    Somewhere between those two decisions is the use of a bean-bag gun. I'll let people who actually understand that profession firsthand determine whether that's over or under the line given the circumstances.

  • Rethug Purity Troll (unverified)
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    I love the comments that encourage the dissolution of the union as a solution. Very DP.

    I blame Nader.

  • michael (unverified)
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    Until I found out Humphreys was involved, I was on the cops' side here. A 160-pound, 5'6" person fighting as hard as possible could easily overwhelm our poor, frightened policeboys so the big guns became necessary.

    But since a known criminal and murderer (Humphreys) was involved I knew that it was another case of criminal thugs attacking the citizens.

    Since the police have the right to act as vultures, as predators, allowed to beat or kill anyone they feel like and suffer few if any consequences, all I can do, since self-defense is illegal, is stand by and watch should I ever come upon an officer in trouble. I would have no way to know if it is a good cop or a thug like Humphreys, but I do know that 600 cops demonstrated with a sign saying "We are all Humphreys" thus accepting the same responsibility. I don't like gangster-brats or meth dealers, but I would not move in any way to help the cop, not even calling 911 for him.

    The PPD have shown that they neither earn nor want the support of the populace, so screw them. If I ever get in danger and need police help, I would not want to call, risking being killed just because. Age, sex and race are no longer a factor; middle-aged men and women, and children can get the same treatment once reserved for minority groups. Too long Portland police have been striving to be a miniature version of the LAPD and they are succeeding, but without the training and professionalism, such as it is, of the LAPD. No one is safe until extreme changes are made.

    After replacing the whole bloody lot, it would behoove the City Council to set up a new force using consultants from the Vancouver, B.C. police to train them. Up there, they can actually do their jobs without beating and killing innocent, or slightly guilty, citizens.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    1st, kudos to Mr. Renaud. His "I'm proud of Chris Humpreys" graph is one of the most elegant reverse smack-downs I've seen in awhile. He also got the gist of it right...without strong civilian oversight, nothing in the PPB will change.

    2nd, the Police union must be broken. As a 3rd generation union activist, this pains me to say, but it's the truth. They are insanely powerful, accountable to no one, and now believe it is within their purview to set city policy.

    3rd, Police as individuals are no better or worse than you or I. Most go into the work because they honestly want to "protect and serve". Some are thugs, but they are definitely in the minority. AS a former MP, son of a cop, brother of a cop, and nephew to a cop, I think I've got a bit of standing here.

    The problem is not that most cops are bad, they are not. The problem is that because of the organizational culture good cops feel pressured into supporting bad cops.

    Put yourself into their shoes. 600 of your fellow officers are donning "I am Chris Humphreys" t-shirts and marching on city hall. You are an officer who feels "I am NOT Chris Humphreys, and on the worst day of my life I would not do what he did".

    What do you do? Speak out? Not unless you have a death-wish. Your life may depend on the support of the officer next to you. Stay silent? Probably your best option (and there were MANY police who did not participate in the Chris Humphreys march). Or do you just go along, telling yourself that you'd react differently. Sadly group-think is alive and well in the PPB (as it is in most progressive groups).

    We need to bust the Police Union. We need real and effective civilian oversight. We need a chief of Police who is not terrified of the union. We need to get Dan Saltzman out of the city council, and let him do the big business development work that is nearest and dearest to his heart.

    And right now Jason Renaud is the only candidate with even 1/2 a snowball's chance of doing it.

    Support him.

  • Brian C. (unverified)
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    Speaking of asshattery, gotta love those who attempt to frame the incident in question as thuggish police using excessive force on a small, defenseless, innocent child. Unless I was badly misinformed, a 160+ pound individual broke the law, assaulted a uniformed peace officer and was shot in the leg with a beanbag. If that's the case I say the kid got off rather light. Just me?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    That's a great, considered response, Richard. I agree with 90%. I have a few questions though.

    Most go into the work because they honestly want to "protect and serve". Some are thugs, but they are definitely in the minority... What do you do? Speak out? Not unless you have a death-wish. Your life may depend on the support of the officer next to you.

    So, it sounds like there are more than a minority thugs. Or is it herd instinct? Also, I was wondering, you hear that "heat of combat" line a lot, but, given all the cops you know, how many times have they fired a round in anger, all told? That also concerned me about Chris' story. Do they not have to fill out a form whenever they draw their sidearm, anymore?

    As far as "yeah, there are high risk professions, but they're not aiming at you", I think the point about cyclists should be well taken. I'm sure some construction workers could debate that too. Personally, I consider negligence not much different that outright malice, and that would pretty much level the ground with the construction worker. But again, I have to wonder at the numbers. How many people take a shot at an officer? Is it a higher proportion that for anyone living in a high crime neighborhood?

    My big question always goes to the central metaphor. Why the military motif? It's particularly obvious if you spend time in Europe where a lot of cops are really cute and the uniforms smart. My only negative interaction with them was being turned down for a date. You can argue it's a difference in gun and drug laws, but shouldn't that be where we start the change as well?

    You an argue that is too low profile a role, but it's commensurate with education. In every other case in this society, you have to have an advanced degree and my consent to risk my life. A person with an associate's degree that feels threatened is rather a different standard. In sympathy, they do have to do too much, but that's an artifact of the stupid laws.

    As far as the union goes, I largely agree. At least with the characterization. I tend to look at Tri-Met drivers the way you describe the police. It's just a few rotten eggs, but the group protection taints the whole crew's image. As much as I mutter about that one, I know they need it to deal with middle management.

    BTW, am I missing something or is the only difference between a bean bag round and a regular shotgun round is that the regular round is in a plastic sleeve and the bean bag round is in a plastic bag?

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    Brian C:

    I guess she got off rather lightly in comparison to James Chasse, a 160+ pound individual [who allegedly] broke the law, assaulted a uniformed peace officer and was beat to death. You can't take the one incident in isolation without considering Humphreys' other actions. He is one of the top for use of force complaints in the PPB.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    Statistics vary depending on which source you find most credible, but generally police aren't even in the top ten of most dangerous professions based upon on-the-job deaths. Fishermen, loggers, construction workers and even convenience store workers suffer more work-related deaths than cops.

    Even then, cops die more often from car accidents and other factors like heart attacks, falls, and accidental discharges than from homicide at the hands of a perp. More cops kill themselves each year, on average, than are killed by assailants.

    Not saying their job can't be dangerous and scary; dealing with unpredictable people in often stressful, adverserial situations can certainly be, no doubt. As a bartender, I know that too. But somehow I've been able to deal with men much bigger than myself, drunk off their asses, pissed at their wives, without the benefit of weapons or violence. I'd have to deal with my out-of-control, bigger-than-me teen that way too, if the situation arose.

    Just saying... Maybe if the police weren't so militarized and heavily armed, they'd learn to deal with matters a bit less radically. According to the Bureau of Justice: "The number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty has declined since the early 1970's. ... The greatest proportion of the recent decline in murders of law enforcement officers is attributable to the decline in handgun murders." Not, apparently, because cops are more heavily armed or better trained.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Have to agree, barkeep.

    Is anyone else bothered by the way her weight seems to have replaced her age as the vital statistic?

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    "It's easy to second-guess after the fact. If he had put his gun down to help,"

    What was he doing with a shotgun for a child riding the MAX, in the first place?

    My wife is 5'2, and routinely dealt with dangerous and mentally challenged (both) minors from 12-17 in a correctional setting. She, like everyone else in that profession, learned proper restraint techniques that allow you to subdue even someone who is larger than you. Two officers should have no issue replicating such restraint--and in fact used to, before being handed tasers and beanbag guns.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    Z- Yeah. Tha's why I mentioned Chasse that way. His weight was usually given at more like 150 lbs. I believe, but surely it was within 10-15 lbs of this girl. Chasse is repeatedly described as frail and significantly smaller than (the what, 220 lb?) Humphreys. I agree and no one seems to dispute that much.

    Yet so much has been made of this girl's size, who doesn't appear to be significantly bigger than Mr. Chasse. I guess it just sounds better to do this to a kid if it's a kid who's big for her age. Such is the perverse logic of some.

    TJ- Exactly. There's a problem if carrying a shotgun (or other weapon) means the only choice you have in dealng with an uncooperative suspect is to use that weapon.

  • Bartender (unverified)
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    To Jason - Thank you for this piece. Until this latest deal with Humphreys, these issues haven't been discussed much here. Not that I can recall anyway. If I lived in Portland, I'd vote for you based on your views re: the police and the mentally ill alone. For too long, the City Council has allowed themselves to be pushed around by the PPB and their union.

    Unfortunately, I live in Sandy. Where we have our own upcoming huge civil trial re: police abuse of force - the case of Fouad Kaady. Sort of like the Chasse case, Sandy has already settled for a record-breaking $1 million. Clackamas County, like Portland, however, has refused to settle and is going to trial next spring. Against Gerry Spence. Good luck with that.

    Maybe if Portland showed some leadership and a backbone in dealing with the police, smaller communities would follow suit.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    "...dealt with dangerous and mentally challenged (both) minors from 12-17 in a correctional setting."

    In a "correctional setting," right?

    Presumably, at some point in this setting, safeguards were taken to ensure that the individuals your wife dealt with did not carry around concealed weapons.

    I imagine that it's different on the street, where police deal with people that haven't already gone through a correctional booking process.

    Why this officer had a shotgun is a good question. Is it usually utilized for MAX incidents? If so, why? If not, why was it brought? Was it against protocol?

    These are the questions that I think are more useful to focus on: questions about what the established process is and why it is set up that way (or why it's lacking). Identifying problem cops should be in terms of who is and is not following established procedures; not simply second-guessing actions out of context.

    "Is anyone else bothered by the way her weight seems to have replaced her age as the vital statistic?"

    When a officer has a few seconds to evaluate someone, they are able to guess the person's size easier than their age. Seems to me that an individual's size (and physical capabilities) would be of more immediate concern than the person's age.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Adam12, Sorry to be slow to respond, I'm still trying to work a full day each day + campaign.

    The People give police a great power - force. This power is not a right, is not to be taken for granted. It is revocable, in the interest of the people, at any time, for reasons which might confuse or bewilder the police, without argument or delay.

    A politician which ignores the inherent rules of this power should not be re-elected.

    The solution is you and 999 Portland voters need to sign my public campaign finance form and make a $5 token donation. See www.jasonforportland.com for details and contact information.

  • ws (unverified)
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    "..Unfortunately, I live in Sandy. Where we have our own upcoming huge civil trial re: police abuse of force - the case of Fouad Kaady. Sort of like the Chasse case, Sandy has already settled for a record-breaking $1 million. ..." Bartender

    Fouad Kaady? Ah-h yes. I hope people haven't forgotten what happened to this guy. If his story is in fact going to be presented in court by Gerry Spence, they will be reminded. The police that fired their guns and killed Fouad Kaady also seem to have been unwilling to touch him with their hands, buck naked and bloody as he was, standing atop their police car. Suffering from third degree burns, he apparently wasn't able to respond well to their orders to dismount the car and lay on the hot asphalt street.

    Seems like one of the two could have held their gun on him while the other put on the latex gloves, and then switch so the other could put on his. As I remember news accounts of the incident, Kaady after all, was mostly just standing there in shock.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    When you get right down to it, who are the most respected police agencies around the globe? Ever wonder why the RCMP in Canada is well respected?

    It is because the RCMP respects the people they protect.

    Where I am moving to (Central Alberta), One of my neighbours is an RCMP officer. We had a nice long e-mail chat over what he saw on-line, the bean bag incident as it were.

    His response: "The people responding seemed a bit uptight for a small incident" When I told him that the officer involved was also an officer who in under investigation for a death - "Why was he still on patrol? Don't they need full clearence before they go back out there?" Finally, when I told him about how the union worked - "It's very clear who runs things, and it isn't the ones who you would think actually run the show"

    This RCMP officer told me that he may ask his superiors to talk with other higher Canadian officials to possibly put a fair warning out (Canada wide) about visiting Portland in the future in light of what he saw.

    Clearly, this incident is much more than what has been anticipated. And all because of one officer who felt compelled and entitled to exert his authority simply because someone, he felt, defied him and his manhood. And the union, by intimidating Sizer and Saltzman, gleefully condoned his actions.

    I am glad I am moving to Canada - at least I have some respect for the RCMP who respect me...unlike PPB who respect no one due to their training of feeling that everyone is a threat and that everyone is guilty until proven otherwise.

    I fear for all of you.

  • John Silvertooth (unverified)
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    Let's see even the outland attorneys have good Portland Police stories... I had a 19 year old client, a good hearted white country boy hippie, who got arrested with a sheet of acid in downtown Portland- he'd been wandering around eating it and handing it out to whoever wanted some for enlightenment- knowing he was high on it the Portland Police picked him up and after he 'refused' to remove his jewelry they ripped out both his nipple rings and threw him in the tank to spend the night- oh protect and serve you've got it. The DA ended up dropping criminal charges against him because they decided the arrest had been illegal- the arrest oh right. I realize a lot more people have more serious stories and outcomes. Like any group of people there are good cops and bad cops. Pretending it is all black and white in either direction is naive.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    When a officer has a few seconds to evaluate someone, they are able to guess the person's size easier than their age. Seems to me that an individual's size (and physical capabilities) would be of more immediate concern than the person's age.

    Yeow! Take Fat Albert to the practice range! My point was that no one would consider taking Breedlove's physical maturity and appearance into account with Sam, it was age, age, age...and that was short only by months, and would have been a non-issue in a majority of states. Here we have a grossly younger individual, not in a relationship with an adult, but being the target of potentially mortal hostility, and it gets much less shrift. Breedlove had 3'o clock shadow to rival an Arab and was very robust for his age, yet, that matters not, while her obesity tips the scales. I'll be blunt. It sounds like "fatty bashing".

    One Adam12, see the edified readers appreciating your post!

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    You know, while it may be a bit unusual for a 12-year-old girl to weigh 160, that's not a weight that's so far out of normal for humans in general. I'd assume that police are trained in how to restrain combative suspects in an average weight range -- whatever their age -- without killing them or shooting them.

    In the case of the 12-year-old on the MAX, the age should definitely have been known because the reports said the officer who asked her to get off the train knew that she had an exclusion against her. He was supposed to know who she was and should at least have known she was a minor, although Humphreys may not have.

    If you look at the videos, less than ten seconds elapse between the time the girl exits the train (under her own power), has her hands grasped by one officer, has her head pushed down, and a shot is fired by Humphreys. A second shot is fired about ten seconds later, as she's struggling, lying face up on the ground under the other officer. Supposedly, the officers repeatedly warned her that she'd be shot with the beanbag shotgun if she continued to resist, but that seems unlikely to have happened before the first discharge, given that only a few seconds pass between first hands-on contact by officers and the time the beanbag bounces back from striking something. How many times can you intelligibly say "Stop resisting or we'll shoot you with a beanbag" in two or three seconds?

    And I think folks are right about the bad choice to deploy a beanbag shotgun in this situation, although who knows whether that decision was Humphreys's or a superior's. In the video before the incident, you can see Humphreys repeatedly having to shift the strap back onto his shoulder because it keeps slipping off; he has to use his right arm to keep it in place, which made him ineffective as a second pair of hands in restraining the girl (although that may not have been so bad). He couldn't set the gun down and risk someone stealing it. His only course of action -- and presumably the only course available to any similarly-armed officer in a that situation -- would be to shoot the gun.

    Or not, but how likely would that be?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Posted by: darrelplant | Dec 11, 2009 11:00:39 AM

    You know, while it may be a bit unusual for a 12-year-old girl to weigh 160, that's not a weight that's so far out of normal for humans in general.

    American humans. I was well over 6' at that age and didn't weigh over 150. On the other hand I didn't have Mr. Breedlove's facial growth until 40. My point is that we really don't believe half the age related stuff that gets trotted out when sex is involved, as this demonstrates.

    Your point is still taken though. In general it's the "Law of the Hammer". You give someone a hammer, they find something that needs pounding. Standing around not doing anything isn't a natural response, and, as you point out, if it's the only tool you have...

    But back to their motivation, the public have supported non-lethal weaponry as an alternative to shooting a suspect with live ammo. That it would be deployed for cases where you wouldn't have shot live ammo, is an example of the give an inch, lose a mile position we find ourselves in with them.

    Where's the consumer class action? Can anyone argue that having someone chant "hate the police, plug that mother fucker" or such isn't going to influence a 12 year old when they've 10 seconds to decide and those very MFers are standing over you with a shotgun? I'm one of those that have argued to legalize all drugs. Let consumer actions against unsafe products keep them in check. Call me a socialist, but I agree with Fidel Castro when he says that freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom to set out to destroy social harmony, just for grins. I totally support their protesting the situation they find themselves in and saying vicious things about their oppressors, but there's a fine line between that and causing additional social ills. Would help if there were more art involved too. Quoting another socialist, Mao Zedong, "art which makes a political statement should first have value as art".

    Truer words were never spoken(, Bob Geldolf!).

  • Adam12 (unverified)
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    DSS-

    This is the commercial electrician again-

    You wanted to differentiate between the risks of a police officer's job and mine. ACCIDENTAL and INTENTIONAL was how you categorized- but what is the difference ? I would still be dead, and you have to admit- more people in the US die from industrial accidents than police are killed. Lets add NEGLIGENCE OF OTHERS to my category and see where it stands.

    The police need to be demilitarized- and they need to lose their " super citizen " status, and it needs to happen now. We need cops out of their cars, living in the city they patrol, trained in communication and given a one strike policy when any settlement has to be paid out on their behalf.

    Any of you argue that the size or weight of this girl really matters is being disingenuos and I think you know it. These cops knew this girl, at least one of them did, so there is no excuse or justification. She was a child, her original crime was purse snatching- and the crime she allegedly committed on this video was riding on MAX even though she was banned. What is this going to cost us now ?

    If the police union actively attempts to subvert city policy, it needs to be disbanded. My union protects me against employer abuse and negotiates my wages. It doesn't set policy for the company I work for after all contracts are agreed upon. Were I to cause an accident that killed or injured a co-worker, or faced my company to pay a huge settlement, I would be out on my butt.

    ps Jason- you are getting my name and 5.00 - lets see you change our police culture.

  • (Show?)
    You know, while it may be a bit unusual for a 12-year-old girl to weigh 160, that's not a weight that's so far out of normal for humans in general. American humans. I was well over 6' at that age and didn't weigh over 150.

    Yes, well, I didn't specify age, did I? I was still a few inches shy of 6' at 12, but I didn't weigh anywhere near 150. Ah, youth.

    The police have to deal with "humans in general", and police officers in Portland, Oregon, a city in the United States, are presumably trained to deal with the average adult male who weighs about 190 pounds according to the National Center for Health Statistics. As a matter of fact, a PDF document from the same organization says that the mean weight for women 20-29 years of age was 156.5 in their 1999-2002 sample. Essentially, the two officers involved were taking someone into custody who was -- except for her age -- dead average in yerms of the population that they're supposed to be dealing with on a daily basis.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
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    Your comment is ugly and demeaning, LB. It's also unnecessary and frankly, smacks of ignorance. I'm unable to see the point..so perhaps you'd care to rephrase and actually make a salient one?

    So, as the discussion ends, who missed the point? Perhaps you should visit adam12, Richard, Silvertooth, Parker, bartender, ws, Chris, Jason, Zarathustra, Bill, torridjoe, BOHICA and the rest in realityland sometime. Have to check the PC speech filters at the gate, though.

    Now we move on to something really salient for Portland politics. "It might snow"!

    FWIW, my $20 is on the way, Jason, and good luck.

  • (Show?)

    Have to check the PC speech filters at the gate, though.

    PC discussion? Please. Let's just start with humane and constructive.

  • Dr John Smith (unverified)
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    Posted by: Carla Axtman | Dec 12, 2009 10:32:46 AM

    Have to check the PC speech filters at the gate, though.

    PC discussion? Please. Let's just start with humane and constructive.

    Constructive starts with being real, and it seems from where I sit, that it is the cops involved that are making beasts of themselves!

    I guess if you concentrate enough on individuals you can forget that they exist to preserve society's inequities. They protect the empowered and serve business. Anyone that doesn't know that is from a Beaverton gated community and thinks Channel 12's constant neighborhood panics are news you can use.

    I thought this blog wanted a "diversity of voices around the water cooler". The comments you disparage are a very mild, quite civil take on what 1/4 of the population thinks about cops. Would you like that sentiment unvarnished?

    That point about Church of the Cop was hilarious. All genuflect now!

  • Jiang Lee (unverified)
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    Retitle this "The Techno Apes Gaze at Their Navel"! The point about cyclists just went right by every head in the room. There is not one- NOT ONE- of your "our great civil servants" sentiments that isn't more appropriately applied to cyclists. They do it for the social good, they are MORE OFTEN targeted for violence and death, they put their life on the line, every minute, and they die when they've haven't screwed up!

    Realistically, you don't feel even remotely the same about them. That has to do with the fact that you're apes and, as stated, are slaves to the concept of "criminality". Why are there cop shows on TV and not about the struggles of a green cyclist? You find it entertaining. You then turn to social policy and are too stupid to know what is on the fucking TV and what is on your streets.

    Yeah, those "bad" comments were mild. Better to pretend that everyone agrees. You know what my sweet little 84 year old grandmother says about the police? She says they're the same people as burglars, except they have no balls.

    Planet of the fucking apes. It's Sunday now. I'll let you get back to your gorilla worship.

  • ben 10 oyun (unverified)
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    thanks for all admin owe you gratitude..

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