We need an independent leader as our next Portland Police Commissioner

Jo Ann Hardesty

In 2010, 100% of people shot and killed by Portland Police were suffering from some type of mental health issues. In all six cases, police state the person killed did not follow their directions. People in crisis don't always follow directions, which is why some people call the police for help.

If you are Black, you are twice as likely to be stopped and searched by Portland Police and if Latino 1.7 times as likely to be stopped and searched by Portland Police. If you happen to be white, however, you are less likely to be stopped, less likely to be searched, but more likely to have drugs, weapons and other illegal substances.

In one extreme case, Portland Police alleged that Keaton Dupree Otis -- a 25 year old African American man (not gang member as later confirmed) -- within 25 seconds and with 3 officers shooting tasers into him was able to open his glove compartment, pull out a bag from his glove department, open the draw string, pull out a weapon, shoot officer Chris Burley which led to four Portland Police officers shooting him over 25 times. Another officer, Christopher Humphreys (who was involved in the death of James Chasse and shot a beanbag round at a 12-year-old girl), even went out on stress leave to avoid accountability and now is running unopposed for sheriff in Wheeler County.

The police are then cleared by other police during the internal review process and the grand jury process rubberstamps the police version of events. Having one District Attorney in Multnomah County for almost 30 years leads to an "insiders game" of injustice. In fact, you will notice Mike Schrunk's hand-picked replacement does not have an opponent in the race.

For Police Commissioner, however, we do have a choice. My choice is Eileen Brady. I want a Police Commissioner who will embrace public accountability, an open grand jury process, annual performance evaluations, etc. But more importantly I want a Police Commissioner who in June 2013 will take back the city's power to fire bad police officers. The City of Portland negotiated this away a long time ago, which is crazy. At the Urban League forum on Tuesday night, Eileen was the only candidate to specifically say she would keep the grand jury process open and transparent.

I don't want a Police Commissioner who will continue the status quo. I believe Eileen is that change agent. I have firsthand experience working with her during the development of health care reform legislation in 2007. Eileen is not afraid to convene diverse groups of smart people to assist her in developing policy that will benefit all.

She doesn't have to be the smartest person in the room to get results.

In every candidate forum, Eileen has consistenly called for an accountable police force. The Portland Police is on notice that they are not right 100% of the time. And when they are not, they will be held accountable.

That is the message I want my next Police Commissioner to send loud and clear.

Comments

    • (Show?)

      Anyone who thinks that WWeek's effort to look at the issue is realistic, is deluded. If they really wanted to address independence (and by that, they mean independence from financial contributors), they would have picked an issue for each candidate. Instead, it's the Nigel-hypothetic-fest.

      So for Jefferson, the question should have been: Jefferson, the PAT has endorsed you; would you be willing to take a position against teachers? WWeek didn't do that, which is why the question is bogus.

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          if you mean the City Club debate, would you please provide something specific? which question? what was her attack? anyone can make vague charges, but that's the kind of politics your comments implies that you oppose. thanks.

          (i work part-time for the Brady campaign but speak only for myself)

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        I think everyone knows this, but just so it is on the record: Jon Isaacs is a strategist for Eileen Brady's campaign,

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        I will remember this choice of yours for a long time.

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        Mark & Jenni --

        Just so we're clear here, no one is calling for all grand jury transcripts to be made public.

        The item under discussion in the mayor's race is whether grand jury transcripts in fatal police shootings should be public.

        As the Mercury notes:

        Smith also is unwilling to commit to ensuring that grand jury transcripts in fatal police shootings remain public—something that benefits both cops and citizens.

        Personally, I haven't heard Jefferson's reasoning for wanting to keep investigations of police shooting fatalities secret.

        In general, I'm for transparency - especially when we're talking about the sorts of investigations that have typically been swept under the rug. But I'm open to changing my mind. Would love to hear the argument in favor of keeping secret the grand jury transcripts in police shooting fatalities.

        Full disclosure: My firm built Eileen Brady's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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            "If the rule was that they were always open, all those details would be made public."

            Presumably, the rule could include keeping IDs of undercover agents secret.

            We're talking about the general rule - public or secret - not narrow exceptions to protect the lives of our police officers.

            Too often, the secrecy of grand jury proceedings in fatal police shootings have led to broad community mistrust of the police.

            Whether the outcome of the inquiry is that everything was done right, or there was officer misconduct, or procedure was followed but needs changing, those inquiries should be public.

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        Chuck- you are kidding me right. Since when were you appointed spokes person for the AMA Coalition for justice and Police Reform?

        I haven't seen you at a meeting in almost two years!

        Please don't pretend you are engaged in this issue and you represent the views of communities of color. I don't see you at any of the meetings that continue to happen all over this community!

        Its not surprising you like Jefferson. It just doesn't make sense for you to present yourself as an expert in this matter.

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          Sadly, I have to point out JoAnn dishonestly here. I did stop attending AMA meeting last year when I was moved to serve as the acting minister of a congregation in Salem. But I have been involved with police issues since first working with Burnside Community Council in 1987. I was one of the clergy who conducted the service for James Chase. And I helped get the US Dept of Justice to start there ongoing review of the police. JoAnn knows all this but has decided to put aside long, good working relationships to engage in dishonest politicking for Ms. Brady. I would hope Ms. Brady would condemn JoAnn for her comments here. For the record, in case anyone is confused, AMA has not endorsed in this race and JoAnn is not THE representative of communities of color in Portland. She should pretend otherwise.

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            She should not pretend otherwise, excuse me.

            And I was glad to be at the AMA co-sponsored Civic Forum this week. Though my position in Salem ended last fall I've been slow to get back involved because of my mother's cancer and death earlier this month. But I'm glad to be fully involed now.

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      Thanks Jason.

      Joanne with ample amounts of respect, I could not disagree with you more in your core argument. You really don't know Jefferson if you suggest he would be beholden to anyone because of support.

      I won't assume the same of Eileen because we all know the PBA wants business as usual to continue.

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    Portlanders - especially police - are particularly interested in grand jury transcripts being released in cases of police-shootings; reasons are well-documented by the media. The Mental Health Association of Portland has collected files of over 230 persons killed by Portland-area police officers since 1970. Those files are incomplete but show a very strong prevalence of persons impaired by mental illness or addiction. Our hypothesis is that almost all persons harmed by police are impaired. High numbers of minorities then indicate an absence of sobriety and sanity resources in those communities.

    Jo Ann and I (and Dan Handleman and a couple of others) were the first to bust into a PPA contracts meeting. No political people were in the room - in fact no media was in the room until we whistled them up.

    Police accountability is all about the PPA contract. You want to refute impunity? You need a strong police commissioner. None of the candidates have any experience here - all will need to draw on community support and consensus to provide civilian oversight. It's not a one person job.

    Sam’s decision to keep Franshour off the PPB may be overturned but reasonable people will agree he’s done the right thing. The value of a politician is when they step into the fracas between what is LAW and what is RIGHT.

    So who is the consensus builder? Who will put themselves in the middle of negotiations? Who will step into for the fight for what is RIGHT?

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    There are unions and there is the Portland Police Association. Anyone who believes this is about collective bargaining has their head in the sand.

    The Police are supposedly well trained but continue to kill people who are suffering from mental health issues.

    Do you believe that no Portland Police officer has ever done anything to deserve to be fired?

    How is it possible that 100% of police officers in Portland are reinstated after being fired for cause?

    I don't know of any profession where that is so. If the next mayor is not willing to stand up to the Portland Police Association, people will continue to die.

    If this is union busting then count me in!

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      This is the worst kind of politics, JoAnn. To suggest these things of Jefferson is pathetic but this is what desperate campaigns do. Ms. Brady may have raised $1 million from downtown business leaders who want to cut mental health and human services - and she herself has talked about cutting off city housing vouchers - but it is clear all her money isn't helping her connect with voters. So they bring someone like you in to engage in the politics of personal distruction. Portland is a better city. We need reform, as Jefferson as said, but also reconciliation. How sad your campaign doesn't see that.

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      Forgive me, but didn't you say once in your article ( ref "negotiation" as a way to get rid of bad cops) and once in your first response to me, that it IS functionally about collective bargaining?

      Can you offer any specific evidence that would lead observers to conclude what you're asserting? Not ideas, but evidence of busting the status quo?

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        The current contract requires evaluations be part of a collective bargaining process.

        If you have no ability to evaluate the effectiveness of your employees how do you correct bad behavior and prepare people for promotions?

        Could you supervise over 800 employees without an annual evaluation? Most employers would not accept that. Why should the public?

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    Polling, Paul? When non-candidate supporters are called out for for inattention, sloth, dishonesty, and are viciously attacked as being viscous attackers, I can plausibly conclude that someone's a bit worried. Just spitballing here....

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