portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

police / legal

And I thought Los Angeles police were bad

Observing Portland Police Conduct From Afar
I've always been a big fan of the police that serve and protect honest citizens from the predations of the criminal element among us. At times, though, it becomes difficult to continue to support and explain-away the actions of _some_ officers, actions which are invariably followed-up by whitewashing coverups that attempt to proclaim obvious un-premedicated manslaughter to some how be justified.

I thought Los Angeles police were the nation's worst when it comes to unjustified homicides and the criminal coverup which always follows -- pretend "internal investigations" are anything but investigative; they're secret discussions which take place designed to sell one police homicide after another to an increasingly gullible public -- however I just say that the Portland Police Department could very well top the LAPD as ranking the very worst.

Every now and then there's enough screaming from the powerless to prompt a police department to actually fire a incompetent quasi-murderer on their force, or to "punish" a killer by sending him off to some other town where the public hasn't heard his name yet. The problem is that actually holding police officers to account for their crimes is virtually impossible, and from what I observe of reports issued by the Portland Police in the aftermath of their seemingly endless series of outrageous shootings, I have to express amazement at the people of Portland for doing exactly nothing about the problem.

To be sure: The criminals are 1000 times worse than the cops, and one need only look at the police departments of other nations to see that the police infrastructure we have in the United States is a blessing; Americans are extremely privileged to have a police force where 99.999% of the force are good cops doing a damn difficult job. At the same time I look at news reports coming out of Portland and have got to wonder whether there's something seriously wrong with hiring or training practices there which could conveivably account for such stark differences in how safe and sane police works in the rest of the nation.

Much has been said about the inability to acquire mandatory drug testing of police officers and it seems to me that any police officer who fights such efforts does not have the safety and welfare of the public in mind. If Portland were to lawfully enact requirements that police be tested for steroid use, doing so would at least alleviate the overwhelming suspicion that steroidal behavioral modification is one likely reason for police behavior.

A far greater threat than trigger happy police officers hopped up on dope, however, are the internal "investigative" agencies which rubber stamp every "accidental" homicide and quasi "murder" that comes across their ass-covering "review board" -- or whatever euphemistically-named whitewashing cover-up group they call themselves. If there was any actual oversight or any actual citizens commission which actually investigated unjustifiable shootings, and if there were any actual criminal charges filed against the shooter in such cases where guilt is factually determined, we'd see a greater level of respect for the brave, honest, and overwhelmingly-in-the-majority good police officers rise to the levels they should be.

My oldest sopn has been interested in law enforcment work and it's something I don't encourage solely because such work is extremely dangerous. I spend numerous hours each week volunteering in the Angeles National Forest and virtually every week I confront angry and dangerous individuals -- who are often drunk -- who set fires in the National Forest. I rely upon my good working relationship with the Sheriff Officers to handle such fire bugs and poachers as I come across who exhibit behavior that's too dangerous for me to handle.

But one of the other reasons why I don't encourage my son to get involved in police work is the taint of a few bad police officers. I don't want my son being considered in a bigoted opinion derived from the outrageous excesses of an extreme minority of officers.

So I ask you: What's wrong with Portland's police? Why are they standing out head and shoulders above even the abuses of the Los Angeles Police Department? I'd bet that %99.9999 of the officers in Portland are good, courageous, quality cops -- what's the problem with the rest?

My admittedly uninformed opinions only and only my opinions.
one bad cop in every hundred thousand good ones? 25.Sep.2006 15:02

are there even a hundred thousand cops in oregon?

99.999% "good cops" would not participate in "cover-ups." You've got some doublethink to work out.

I remember Steven Dons 25.Sep.2006 15:16

Bill

"To be sure: The criminals are 1000 times worse than the cops"

I don't think Steven Dons would agree with you.

There's cops and then there's managers 25.Sep.2006 16:46

Fredric L. Rice

Um, no. The police officers out in the street and sitting behind the desk are _not_ the same people who dictate policy, develop policy, procure funding, and work hard denying responsibility and culpability for the police officers they protect. "Internal Affairs" are not the same people who patrol the streets and work to keep the citizens safe -- or at least work to pretend to keep the citizens safe.

It's the same phenomena I see among the US Forest Service: the people on the ground actually love their jobs, care about nature and the environbment, hold many the same hopes and ideals as environmentalists, and are just as angry and annoyed with their management in Washington and "higher ups" who work solely for lumber and paper companies instead of for the forests.

not bad apples, a rotten tree 25.Sep.2006 17:21

observer

I come from a large family with a number of cops so I've met a lot of them personally in a number of states. I'd say it's 20-25% tops that I would consider decent and would fit my qualifications for doing police work. That doesn't mean the rest are out killing citizens the rest of the time. Mostly it's just that they harbor beliefs and attitudes that make it impossible for them to carry out their job professionally and impartially. Here in Oregon it's no different than anywhere else I've been. A lot of the bad reputation here I think has more to do with more information getting out than anything else. I've met a couple of really decent folks on the force in Portland but the vast majority have given away their personal beliefs with barely any effort on my part that I would say shows their lack of qualification for police work (such as blatant racism, homophobia, sexism, fetishism of violence even to the point of sadism). And as the above post correctly notes, why would so many good cops be complicit in coverups for bad cops if the good cops were the overwhelming majority. The bad cops make them look bad and make their jobs harder so it's clearly in their best interest to get rid of them. It's only when you realize that good cops are the minority does this make any sense. I've had long conversations with 2 of family members who are cops. They know that they cannot reform the system taking it on because they would lose because they don't have the numbers. So they keep their heads down, try to lead by presenting a better example, and try to influence policy as best they can. And sadly that's the reality in most places.

[ 25.Sep.2006 18:35

]

When the Nazi party came to power in Germany, the majority of police were not members of the party. As repressions increased, there was no purge of the police force ranks. The police did what they were trained and told to do. That is the case here too. Even the good cops will drag you away to your death if that is what they are ordered to do. Maybe a few will resist, but then they become targets