Letter of Consent Provides Historic Blueprint for Police Accountability

Jo Ann Hardesty

The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division summary of findings states

While most force used by officers in Portland is appropriate, we find reasonable cause to believe that Portland Police Bureau is engaging in a pattern or practice of using excessive force in encounters involving people with actual or perceived mental illness. (p. 2, last paragraph, pdf)

While Mayor Sam Adams, Police Chief Mike Reese and Portland Police Union President Darryl Turner, media spin deflected the significance of the systemic problems at every level within the Portland Police Bureau. The misinformation campaign stated immediately with media frames from the Mayor & the Police Chief lamenting their desire to fix the broken mental health system (not acknowledging they will have no choice since the change is mandated and overseen by the federal courts) and placing all the blame on the broken mental health system, Almost in the same breath they all started saying they needed more money to make the changes mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (Assistant Director, Thomas Perez in his letter to the mayor on September 12th 2012 [pdf])

This 41-page document provides the public the first insider look into the cultural and practices of Portland Police Bureau. I found it painful to read about the total disregard throughout the Portland Police Bureau for the Constitution and pledge of protection and service from Portland Police on the most vulnerable members of our community.

Darryl Turner, President of the Portland Police Association couldn't wait to announce that the US Dept. of Justice "found that Portland Police did not practice a pattern and practices of racial profiling." I would like to direct Mr. Turner to p. 38 (2nd paragraph) that reads in part

While the scope of this investigation did not include an analysis of whether PPB engages in a pattern or practice of bias-based policing, we found that some community members perceive this practice.

It goes on to cite traffic stop data:

The data indicates that 12-24% of PPB traffic and pedestrian stops are of African Americans. However, only 6.4% of the city's overall percentage is African American.

Both candidates for Mayor have made stupid statements regarding what the federal mandates mean for the People of Portland You the voter must educate them! Please read the entire report and the letter of intent. Both provide an historic inside view of the Portland Police Bureau and the tools we now have at our disposal to fix this broken system from the top down to the new cop on the street.

In the end, we will get the kind of police accountability that we are willing to fight for. Please make sure the next Portland Police Commission is well versed on the deficits that currently exist and are willing to work with the federal government to ensure that the U.S. Constitution is followed by our local police force.

If you would like to be involved in this effort please go to the AMA Coalition for Justice & Police Reform page on Facebook.

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