Jesse's Got a Plan

Pat Ryan

Been trying to stay out of the Portland council races as much as possible. Living in Clackamas County and having the business HQ in the Lloyd District (and paying the various taxes from that location) makes me at least an interested party. Also interested in promoting women and minorities to elected positions as much as possible, but with the huge caveat that bilateral symmetry or melanin content cannot be the major qualifiers for office.

Anyhow, Jesse Cornett just put up a plan for the Portland Police Bureau that seems to be a pretty good balance between overview and detail. The fact that he dabbled pretty extensively in law enforcement seems to have given him some insight into the practical issues facing The Guardians as well as the rest of us.

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Wa-a-a-a-ay more than Once upon a Time, while living in Paraguay, I was provided with instructive and personal situations involving armed confrontation. My best buddy Rosalino Carriaga had been brought up toLee Puerto Guarani, as foreman for the 250,000 acre ranch. One thing led to another and my father and I returned from a business trip in the Mato Grosso, Brazil to find our Green Eyed boy dead on the dining room table. Seems that the "Gringo Dog" had unwisely agreed to disarm himself while attending a dance and when he went out for a pee, paid with his life. Paraguay's government being what it was, my dad personally flew the killer to a prison down river and paid a monthly stipend to keep him incarcerated.

A couple of months later, I'm down at the river loading cattle on a barge with another buddy Eduardo, a rich right wing terrorist kid who's entire family had migrated to get away from the dreaded commies in Chile. Anyhow, here comes my eleven year old brother who has had his life threatened by the brother of the aforementioned killer. Eduardo and I head back to the village and find the armed drunk guy with his slightly less drunk father and brother. And it went like this:

Drunk kid: I'll kill any gringo etcetera etcetera...........

Me (age 20): Maybe you should avoid threatening 11 year old children, gringo or otherwise. 

Drunk kid goes into house and returns with gun in belt. More incoherent rambling.

Me to father (gun drawn pointed a ground) Eduardo looking like Clint with hand poised over 357 on Colt Navy frame: You need to get him inside. You watch me practice on silhouettes every weekend. I don't wave the damned thing around and shoot holes in my own roof. If he takes the gun out and points it my way, we're going to light him up.

Drunk kid pulls gun out and starts waving it around. Further incoherent rambling.

Me to father with gun pointed at Drunk kid: We're running out of options here. If that gun tracks my way he's dead and you know it. Get him inside now.

No one injured, brothers defended, education all around. Well, maybe except for Eduardo........

Anyhow, it's total crap that we, who have not walked a mile in PPB Black Oxfords, have no credibility. We're the ones getting lit up by the double Os with a license to kill. I'm for Let's Git 'Er Dun, and Jesse's the first player to offer something both coherent and comprehensive. Give it a look. 

Comments

  • Nova (unverified)
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    The link to Jesse's plan doesn't go anywhere for me.

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    Sorry about that. Too many https is my guess. All fixed now......

  • Boats (unverified)
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    A simpler plan would be to demilitarize the police. The whole paramilitary set-up is the root of the "us v. them" mindset, made all the more ironic because cops are civilians too.

    Not Chief>Captain>Lt.>Sgt.>Officer. . .but Chief>Sr. Inspector>Inspector>Jr. Inspector>Lead Constable>Constable. Get away from the combat and utility fatigue look and make the force look more professional and deserving of respect.

    Burn down the paramilitary structure, take away the M-16/AR-15 and "sniper" rifles from all but a "flying squad" of constables for ACTUAL threats that require that level of force and return the majority of the force to being "peace officers," not a quasi-militarized reaction force.

  • Bronch O'Humphrey (unverified)
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    Robert Pickett for Chief of Police.

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    Yeah Boats,

    The "paramilitary" indentity is destructive to both the public and the police. There are some good studies that show that a simple change of clothing can attitudes all around. Here's one example:

    In 1969, the Menlo Park, California police abandoned their traditional navy blue, paramilitary-style uniforms and adopted a nontraditional uniform hoping to improve police-community relations. The new, nontraditional uniform consisted of a forest green blazer worn over black slacks, a white shirt, and a black tie. Officers displayed their badges on the blazer and concealed their weapons under the coat. When other agencies heard about Menlo Park's attempt, over 400 other police departments in the United States also experimented with a blazer-style uniform.

    After wearing the new uniforms for 18 months, the Menlo Park police officers displayed fewer authoritarian characteristics on psychological tests when compared to officers in the surrounding jurisdictions. Also, after wearing the uniforms for over a year, assaults on the Menlo Park police decreased by 30 percent and injuries to civilians by the police dropped 50 percent. Originally, the department thought the uniform changes resulted in these decreased rates, but other variables factored in at the same time. The number of college-educated officers in the department increased dramatically and the agency abolished its traditional autocratic management style during this same time period.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    If you are going to make them wear tie's as well, at least make them clip-ons. We don't need them getting strangled again.

    Also, make the cities pay for the expensive uniforms as well. That was a major reason in moving to the cheaper BDU's and tshirts.

  • tl (in sw) (unverified)
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    I am happy to agree with Boats (possibly a first) on this one. Thanks too, Pat, for the topic and the follow up reference. I found a fuller article with your quote regarding the Menlo Park uniform change here.

  • Kutomba Rezilko (unverified)
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    Making the cops where ties seems a bit too conservative for Portland...?

    In keeping with the "Keep Portland Weird" motto, I think the cops should wear clown suits. Although, I will admit, it would be hard to chase bad-guys with those big shoes on. At least people like James Chasse would still be alive.

    I would also place "Dingo the Clown" in charge of the cops and the tall bike people, could patrol the streets for corporate jay-walker types.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    I'm not advocating ties. I am also not saying that clothes are the entire answer. However, no good can come from fostering an "occupier" mentality amongst police officers, and like it or not, encouraging a soldier style look with soldier style gear fosters a soldier style mentality. Unfortunately, the "enemy" is the populace.

    The RCMP up in Canada is an example that I like. The dress uniform is legendary of course, and it is paramilitaristic, but in an antique way. The uniform there was always evocative of power and respect, but it is clearly meant to stand out, not stand apart from the larger populace.

    Of course that uniform is impractical for daily use dismounted from a horse, but even the daily RCMP uniform makes Portland's look intended for schlubs, with their cargo pockets and baseball caps. The vest over a light service shirt along with a classic badged lid with a brim and a very yellow service stripe is smarter looking and less threatening than the military surplus look.

    Menlo Park abandoned the blazer based uniform because criminals lost respect for cops dressed like auditorium ushers. That said, Portland has swung way too far into the fakey-army look. They should be forced to go back to their navy double brass button tunic from the days of yore as a autumn/winter uniform, along with the patent leather brimmed uniform cap, and the vest look over a white or light blue shirt and the same cap for spring/summer wear.

    That, and re-engineering the force to purge the largest fraction of the force of both militaristic ranks and firearms would go a ways towards reconnecting the force with their employers.

    In my Portland Police Bureau there would be no camouflage allowed anywhere on anyone at anytime. The battle dress utilities would be gone. The ball caps would be relegated to photos in the museum. No combat boots. No sunglasses. No contracts with Glock, a sidearm wholly made in the United States would be required. No general issue AR-15 rifles. Just a start.

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    Any thoughts on the merits of Jesse's plan?

    One point that I liked (mentioned a couple of times throughout the document) is that your typical cop deals almost exclusively with people who are in some kind of crisis. Sociopaths, Drunks, metally-ill, abusers of spouses and children and on and on. The tendency to close ranks and view all civilians as "other" is a very human reaction to the reality of the world they live in.

    Jesse offers remedies including more balance in citizen contact, and regularly scheduled sabbaticals to allow officers to regroup.

    Both good ideas in my estimation.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    I think a robust community relations program, which all officers would be required to rotate into for a year at a time every three or four years, would go a ways towards mitigating the "us versus them" mentality. Going to the schools and giving presentations. talking to neighborhood watch associations. Attending every community meeting or neighborhood association meeting in the city, etcetera would keep many officers from forming a permanent war footing.

    I also think the "brass" should have to walk the beat two weeks a year.

  • Jim H (unverified)
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    Attending every community meeting or neighborhood association meeting in the city

    I don't know about that one. The one time I went to my neighborhood association meeting the old ladies there went on for about 30-45 minutes detailing every single instance of graffiti they could think of. By the end of it, I wanted to shoot someone.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    Graffiti offenders should be publicly flogged at the sites of their offenses.

  • Roy McAvoy (unverified)
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    @Pat, I too think Jesse has some good ideas. You asked for thoughts on his plan, so here goes..

    Recruitment:

    "(PPB)....stopped requiring a four-year college degree"

    While favorable, there was a recent time when it became impossible to fill open police vacancies across the country with college educated folks. Some agencies were down as much as 33% of their workforce. Now, the job market has changed and may be worthwhile for PPB to explore once again.

    Training:

    The trainees will only be as good or as bad as those doing the teaching. It might be wise to focus not only on the curriculum, but those providing the instruction

    Return to Community Policing

    "We should create incentives such as home loan subsidies for officers who live in Portland so they better understand the community they are employed to protect and serve".

    Seems like a good idea. Most uniform folks probably don't have the time between crisis calls for service to dedicate work time to the community policing model we would all like to see. Living in the area they serve would help.

    Eliminating Racial Bias

    I would bet that most cops "get it". Repetitive diversity training for all to reach the small % who don't seems like a waste of time. Hold those with a problem accountable, and keep hiring a diverse workforce.

    Taking Care of Officers

    Not sure what PPB does for its people, but a strong wellness program to include fitness and those concerns mentioned by Jesse seems like common sense.

    Police Accountability

    A big one. Police go to crisis call after crisis call and most turn out well. When they don't there needs to be accountability.

    Indictments? Maybe if egregious and outside the scope of their job, but who wouldn't close ranks with the threat of arrest lingering over your head all the time. Make a mistake and go to jail? Can you imagine police shooting scenes with only a dead person and every officer on scene taking the 5th?

    A proper review of actions by the police is merited when tragedies happen. A decision about his/her fitness for duty needs to be made by a professional review board.

  • Tim Bovee (unverified)
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    Good list of proposals. He needs to add one more: Don't shoot people in the back. It's cowardly. It's wrong. It's what the bad guys do.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    Handgun control? Would that be because criminals obey gun control laws or something?

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    Suspicious how Jesse Cornett and no one here has brought up the organization which goes to the nails for any gripe no matter how slight against individual police officers.

    The Portland Police Association.

    Is it so hard to come to grips that unions have both positive AND negative affects? For example, name me one individual Portland, OR police officer who has been fired or sued in civil court for millions of dollars for their action in the Chasse death.

    You cannot. The Portland Police Association is protecting police officers no matter how negligent and harmful their actions are to the PPB.

    Until we agree that individual police officers do not need the degree of legal protection normally afforded to Goldman Sachs, then we will continue to have individual police officers who feel protected by the Blue Shield and will act like thugs with a badge.

  • Roy McAvoy (unverified)
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    "..fuck your asshole daily. You fund them with your tax dollars. Complaining about police behavior is like paying a 60 year old, crusty dicked queen to buttfuck.."

    And yes, they are sworn to protect the likes of Alyssa too. The hate talk does little to resolve the problem.

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    Alyssa,

    Just watched a good flick a couple of days ago called the Baader-Meinhoff Complex,(with subtitles!).

    It was about a bunch of kids back in the 70s who enjoyed, as you put it running battles in the streets with the cops.

    They were wrong from the very start, and it did not end well for them..........Or for their victims.

    But you'd fit right in.............

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    I am a big picture person. I see the forest, while most of the time I cannot tell you what species the individual trees are.

    I pointed to the Portland Police Association protecting individual members as if that single member encapsulated the entire Portland Police Bureau.

    First, police officers have to uphold the law and do their job. If they can be held criminally liable when they have reasonable suspicion, then no police officer could do their job and no one would want to be a police officer. Henceforth, police officers should have a higher standard of protection than the average citizen when it comes to criminal law. Much higher.

    Second, if it can be found that an individual police officer's actions will lead to a multi-million dollar lawsuit or million plus settlement, then have the law require the forced resignation or automatic firing of the culpable police officer. This decision should be made during the Grand Jury process.

    Individual police officers when they are out on the beat are the public face of the entire Portland Police Bureau and Association to the public that they are sworn to serve. The status quo where the Portland Police Association goes to the mat for each culpable officer presents a "corrupt, protect our own at any cost" image to the public.

    I don't believe the police officers need a plethora of fixes. I believe that they need personal responsibility and real, personal consequences when it comes time for decision-making.

    All of what Jesse Cornett presented is great and so is the discussion here. My comment is intended to supplement. My comment is not a silver bullet because they do not exist in the real world.

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    My comment is intended to supplement. My comment is not a silver bullet because they do not exist in the real world.

    Well said. Hopefully our combined input will offer some new thinking around the edges on the part of candidates and officials.

    OK. Probabaly not, but I can dream can't I?

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    if it can be found that an individual police officer's actions will lead to a multi-million dollar lawsuit or million plus settlement, then have the law require the forced resignation or automatic firing of the culpable police officer.

    So all I have to do is file a multi million $$ suit against an officer that is making it hard for me to sell my drugs and I can get rid of him. Cool.

  • RyanLeo (unverified)
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    mp97303,

    I do not think it would be that easy. After all, the top cop in each county (County DA) is the one picking and choosing what evidence to present in front of a Grand Jury.

    Through selection of evidence, the DA can either make the case for dismissal easy or obfuscate it to the point where there is no standing for a case.

    Like any hypothetical and preliminary suggestion, my argument has holes that those opposed to can pick and choose to snipe away at the integrity of the suggestion.

    As for your suggestion, were the cops following the rules by acquiring search warrants after months of investigation due to reasonable suspicion?

    If not, then they broke their own rules and have proven that they are not fit to serve the public. Cops are constrained by the same laws that they swore to uphold. Just because they have "reasonable suspicion" does not mean that they have a right to cut corners and infringe on individual liberties despite the character of the suspected perpetrator whether they have no criminal record or a rap sheet a mile long.

    <h2>If you give the police too much power and leeway, as is the status quo, then you have individual officers who think that they are the "LAW."</h2>

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