Portland Police Association
Rank and file under attack
By: Sergeant Bob Gross, Retired
What is happening to Portland? If I were a tourist, visitor or new resident to town I might get the impression, based on news media reports of the Perez shooting and those goofy Copwatch "wanted posters" that I had just gone back in time to the 1960's. Where is the objectivity in Portland? Based on statements from the self-appointed leaders of the African-American community the Portland Police Bureau is inundated with racist white cops and there is a vigilante subgroup within the bureau whose sole purpose is to assassinate young black males.
Once again the so-called leaders, and some expert witnesses in the African-American community, are getting all of the face time in front of the news cameras, letting their emotional bias override common sense and the facts leading to the Perez shooting.
In the March issue of The Rap Sheet I talked about the birth of gangs in Portland. This month I was going to talk about how the bureau and the community could work together to deal with the gang problem. The gang topic is null and void this month because nothing can be accomplished until the leadership of Portland unburies it's collective head and wakes up to the reality that there are bad people in this town. Sometimes the only way to deal with bad people is with the use of force.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks is the leadership of the African-American community. What message does Oscar Eason Jr., the regional NAACP representative from Seattle, relay to young black males when he says that blacks have only two alternatives when being stopped by Portland police; run or be shot.
Senator Avel Gordly addressed the rally for life on April 4th. In a quote, documented by The Oregonian, Sen. Gordly said, "Portland police officers are young, inadequately trained and then armed", implying that giving officers guns is a recipe for disaster. Sen. Gordly also implied that Portland police officers receive about as much training as a hairdresser or a barber, referring to the 10 week DPSST police training course at Monmouth.
Does Sen. Gordly have any idea what she is talking about? Has Sen. Gordly even attempted to find out how many additional weeks and months of training a PPB recruit goes through during the first 18 months on the job in Portland? Can changes be made; can the Bureau learn from this incident? Of course, but please, step back, take a deep breath and look at the facts!
Then we have the Rev. WG Hardy Jr., who also spoke at the Rally for Life gathering. The Rev. Hardy's resume for leadership includes 6 arrests since 1989 and a conviction in 1997 for assaulting his wife. The Rev. Hardy said Officer McCollister was a liar and called for his indictment prior to the Grand Jury finding Officer McCollister justified in the use of force in the Kendra James shooting. Who needs evidence and facts when the Rev. Hardy is in charge of the investigation!
I haven't heard or seen much of the Rev. Roy Tate on the news lately. It could be his credibility with the news media has gone down a notch or two due to some allegations that he has paid for sex from some women he ministered to in his congregation and the misuse of church funds.
These are the folks who are speaking for the African-American community. I have not heard one of these people make any statements to the effect that the community and the Police Bureau should work together to find a solution to a perceived problem of racism. They blame everything that happened to Perez on the Police Bureau. Where is the accountability in the African-American community? If Perez had not been under the influence of crack cocaine (Oscar Eason Jr. actually said, "The fact that he had drugs in his system doesn't change my view of the situation") and Perez had done what he was asked and then ordered to do, he would still be alive today. That is a fact the self-appointed leadership of the African-American community is unwilling to accept.
I know the majority of people in the African-American community want to go about their lives just like everyone else. There are a multitude of problems that need to be addressed, one of which is gangs and another being the perceived impression that white police officers are a threat. I think a lot of Portlanders are very weary of the constant media attack on the Portland Police Bureau and the issue is dividing the white community. If the majority of citizens living in Portland are ever going to embrace the African-American community someone with some common sense, the ability to look at both sides of the issue and a willingness to look toward the future has got to step forward.
Oh, and where is the Mayor/Police commissioner on this issue? Madame Mayor made one public statement that she was concerned that there was no weapon found at the scene of the Perez shooting and then she disappeared into City Hall. I think Mayor Katz should be standing at Chief Foxworth's side trying to find a solution to a problem that has the potential of becoming very volatile. What is more important, the safety and wellbeing of the community or a new baseball stadium?
I know one thing for sure; the mayor has definitely opened up the city to all kinds of radicals during her tenure. Even some of the news media has called Copwatch an ultra left-leaning group who take pride in putting up "wanted posters" for certain police officers and encouraging the use of violence against the entire Portland Police Bureau. I guess the police commissioner doesn't think this is a threat to her city, because I only saw Chief Foxworth denouncing this hate mongering on the nightly news programs. The daily dead fish wrapper obviously doesn't think enough of the threats to even give it any newsprint; no surprise I guess.
And the community, represented by the daily dead fish wrapper, complains that police officers close ranks and will not open up when something like the Perez shooting occurs. I wonder why? Are the leaders at City Hall going to back you? What about Roy Tate, WG Hardy Jr. and Avel Gordly? From what I have read and seen in the Portland news media regarding some of the statements these folks have made Portland police officers are guilty until proven more guilty and the heck with the facts and the evidence.
I'm sure many of you have better info then I do, but the way I see it the only people willing to openly defend Portland police officers are Robert King, the Portland Police Association and Lars Larson.
Last comment; a public inquest will be a joke and an emotional three ring circus. I only hope the antics stay in the courtroom. I have seen two of these dog and pony shows over the past 30 years and nothing good for the police has ever come out of them.
This is a very difficult time to be a police officer in Portland. I wish all of you the strength and commitment to continue doing your job in the face of such adversity. Good luck, stay focused and stay safe!
May 2003 - Vol 35 No. 5