KATU 2 News - Portland, Oregon
Portland's police chief to require more paperwork
April 20, 2004
PORTLAND, ORE. - Police Chief Derrick Foxworth will require Portland officers to write reports each time they point a gun at someone.
The rule takes effect July 1, but police union leaders are already opposed to the idea, saying the reports will inhibit police from using deadly force when necessary.
"Officers pretty routinely find themselves in perilous positions. Their response is predicated on circumstances created by the suspect. It's the suspect who initiates action, and the officer who responds," said Robert King, president of the Portland Police Association. "The part that is discouraging for officers is that having to complete a report like this disproportionately puts the burden on officers."
The requirement makes good on a recommendation offered last August by outside consultants who studied 3 1/2 years of Portland police shootings.
The chief's announcement comes as a Multnomah County grand jury Tuesday begins to examine the March 28 fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist by a Portland police officer.
John Canda, executive director of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, supported the change as a member of the Community Police Organizational Review Team and praised the chief for listening to community concerns.
"We want the officers to know how weighty a situation that is to pull a gun on someone, and how the people who are not criminals feel after a traumatic incident like that," Canda said.
Assistant Chief Stan Grubbs, who oversaw a committee of police commanders that examined the planned change, said he was surprised to learn that many smaller police agencies in the Portland area have been documenting the pointing of guns for some time. He cited Hillsboro, Tigard and Beaverton police.
"You kind of sit back and go 'Wow.' Here are these jurisdictions with less officers and they've been doing this for years," Grubbs said. "This is not something we need to be afraid of. It's not designed to be used as a disciplinary tool against police. It's to give us a representation as to how we are using weapons."
Since 1997 the Oregon State Police has required its officers to notify a supervisor each time they point a gun at someone and write a report explaining the circumstances.
"This is one of the more serious things that we do, and so there needs to be some oversight," said Lt. Dale Rutledge, Oregon State Police spokesman.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)