Tag Archives: Portland police

SR editorial: Health care crisis far wider than DOJ report

When it comes to police conduct in this city, there is always a bounty of finger pointing to go around.

The Department of Justice’s report on its investigation of the Portland Police Bureau points its own fingers, too. It is critical of the police bureau’s “unconstitutional” overuse of force, including the repeated application of Tasers, on people experiencing or perceived to be experiencing mental illness. It points to the bureau’s administration and deficiencies in policy, training and supervision. We agree, and support the creation of an independent body for police oversight.

The DOJ also cites a lack of capacity in social services to handle mental health crisis situations, including the absence of a crisis triage center. Entire chains of communication had gaping holes between the street and accessing acute care.

Indeed, the report packs its criticism with caveats around limited resources and an inordinate expectation that police officers take care of mental health crises, at least as they appear on the streets, among those facing perhaps the worst moments of their lives.

One finger is missing, however. The one that should be pointing back at Washington D.C. and the health care industrial complex. This is a health care issue, after all, and for all the potential the DOJ report can offer us in terms of reform and improvements, it is a view through the lens of the criminal justice system. Continue reading

Good news, bad news in the war against domestic violence

By Greg Stewart, Contributing Columnist

There is a disproportionately large and vastly underestimated impact of domestic violence on public safety.

Just how widespread is the impact of domestic violence?  First, the bad news: In 2001 domestic violence accounted 48 percent, nearly half, of all reported assaults in the city of Portland. Think about that. In 2001, if you were assaulted in this city there were basically equal odds that a family member or intimate partner was responsible. Even in the most serious assaults, termed aggravated assaults, 34 percent were related to domestic violence.  Homicides? In most years about a quarter of all homicides are related to domestic violence. Continue reading

SR editorial: Walking beats key to keeping our streets safe

Street Roots and its vendors witness and experience both legal policies and illegal activities that play out on the streets of Portland.

That’s why when law enforcement and community groups target one neighborhood or area of the city, we see first hand how it affects a geographical area or a population of people in another. When things flare up, or there is a heavy push by law enforcement to target a specific population such as drug dealers, drug users or homeless people, it sets off a chain reaction that often times comes with consequences. Continue reading

Frederick’s big four

With Keaton Otis and Aaron Campbell fresh in his mind, State Rep. Lew Frederick heads to Salem intent on changing how police operate

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

Lew Frederick is very much aware that he is the Oregon’s only African American legislator.

Frederick is the state representative for inner north and northeast Portland. He was appointed state representative in 2009 when Chip Shields replaced State Sen. Margaret Carter, who left her Senate position to take an administrative role with Oregon’s Department of Human Services.

Frederick ran unopposed for election in 2010, and he is hitting the ground running with four bills he has introduced in the Legislature related to public safety.

The four bills are Frederick’s answer to the office-involved shooting deaths of Aaron Campbell, a mentally ill African-American man who was shot in the back in January 2010, and Keaton Otis, a 25-year old African-American man who was shot by Portland police officers in May 2010. Otis also suffered from mental illness.

Frederick is not just focused on Portland, either.

“This is not something that is uncommon across the United States,” he says in reference to the shootings. “It is part of a much larger narrative than just simply Portland, Oregon. We could have an incident take place like this in Umatilla with a Native American. We could have this take place in Ontario, with a Latino. This is not just a Portland issue.”

The first bill mandates that police-involved incidents resulting in death be investigated immediately, and by a team of law enforcement officials outside of the county the incident happened in.

The second would create a Task Force to consider adding the word “reasonable” to the definition of when it is appropriate for police officers to use lethal force.

The third bill supports changing the training police officers receive. The fourth bill would bolster community-policing programs. Frederick thinks there is a disconnect between the community and police officers that, if not solved, will continue an endless cycle of shootings and incidents similar to what happened to James Chasse, a schizophrenic man who was brutally killed by police officers in 2003, Jackie Collins, a homeless man shot and killed by a Portland police officer in 2009, and the Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis incidents.

Frederick wants to see police officers become a more integrated part of the community they police. The bill also would increase scrutiny of how people of different races, ethnicities, and other profiling characteristics are treated by police officers when pulled over; how minority officers are recruited and retained and, according to an email sent to constituents “calls for tracking the amount of time an officer spends in the community outside of his duties as law enforcement.”

Amanda Waldroupe: Why are you introducing these four bills?

Lew Frederick: There is a basic issue that is behind all of them. There are a large number of people in my community that are afraid of the police. And the police are afraid of the community. Continue reading

Memorial service set for Jack Dale Collins

Jack Dale Collins
Feb. 20, 1952 – March 22, 2010

Jack Dale Collins, 58, died after being shot by a Portland police officer. The officer involved in his death responded to ‘a call of an unwanted person at the Hoyt Arboretum who was yelling at people.’ The crime scene diagram shows an x-acto knife and four shell casings.  His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner. No criminal wrong doing was found by the grand jury who heard the case.

Jack, also known as Jackie or Old Man Jackie Collins, lived on the streets of Portland for over twenty years. He was known as a private man who was often on the move.  People who knew him for years still knew very little about his life. He was estranged from his family.  He was said to be a peaceful individual and to have significant survival skills. He experienced addiction and mental illness and at times engaged in self-harm by cutting.

Jack was liked by those who knew him. He seems to have conducted himself with some grace and dignity.  He got through by his habit of staying out of the way. His loss has been felt by many who recognize the injustice of his alienation, struggles, and passing. He is survived by family members in Texas.

A memorial will be held Monday May 17th 4pm at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1131 SE Oak, Portland. All are welcome.

Donations may be made to the mental health or social-service charity of your choice.

Sisters, police reach agreement on chronic nuisance

Test will come as all involved expect a tough summer ahead

Sisters Of The Road and representatives of the Portland Police Bureau reached an agreement this afternoon on how to alleviate the chronic nuisance property status hanging over the 30-year-old café’s head.

Sounds simple enough, but what’s at stake is Sisters’ survival as a service provider to the city’s poor and homeless in their neighborhood. And while the agreement addresses Sisters’ current chronic nuisance status, it does not address the larger problems facing the streets that are out of Sisters’ hands and expected to elevate as the summer months approach.

“There are huge systemic things, the root causes of which are not about Sisters,” said Monica Beemer, executive director of Sisters Of The Road. Among those dynamics, Beemer said, is the migration of people to Portland during the summer months, an expected warmer-than-usual summer, and the fact that the arrest of offenders, particularly drug users, means a three-hour turnaround through booking and back to the streets. “This all contributes to what’s really possible and what we can do.” Continue reading

“A New Day” community rally to address police reform

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Community Coalition is hosting a community rally at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Emmanuel Temple, 1033 North Sumner, to address the next steps in justice and police reform for Portland. More info on the flier:

Matters of life or death

Mental health activist Jason Renaud weighs in on the latest shooting by police of unarmed citizens in crisis

By Israel Bayer
Staff Writer

Jason Renaud had been an advocate for the rights of people with addiction and mental illness for more than a decade when a 42-year-old named James Chasse was killed at the hands of police officers in 2006. Chasse, who lived with schizophrenia, had been a friend of Renaud’s, and Chasse’s death went beyond the personal tragedy. It brought Renaud’s work with the Mental Health Association of Portland, which he co-founded, into even greater focus toward addressing the actions and oversight of police officers, particularly as they interface with people experiencing mental illness. A police review found that the officers acted within policy. Chasse’s death is now the subject of a federal civil lawsuit brought by Chasse’s family.

Today, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Aaron Campbell and a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer who shot him, Renaud is watching a familiar and tragic scenario repeat itself. Last year he declared his candicacy to run against Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Police Chief Rosie Sizer has announced some changes in police policy as a result of Campbell’s death, including bringing mental health workers along on crisis calls, and buying ballistic shields to protect officers when approaching people.

But neither of those efforts address officers’ behavior, how they coordinate their approach to people in crisis and how they’re trained to deal with these situations to ensure that someone doesn’t end up dead.

Israel Bayer: So let’s start with training. With every shooting in the past, regardless of which talking head, the message has basically been, it’s about the training. If you want us to do something different, train us different. So…

Jason Renaud: My problem is that with the training right now is that once a weapon has been seen or reported by a police officer, it’s likely at that point that someone is going to get hurt. That means the officer is trained to take action prior to the weapon being actually produced. It’s alarming because in many cases it’s a preemptive strike.

Continue reading

Editorial: Police tactics undermine city’s work

For years, St. Francis dining hall has been more than a place to gather for a meal. It is that rare plot of serenity and community for people dealing with poverty and homelessness. That was all shattered a few weeks ago when a team of police officers entered, through opposite doors, with a camera crew from the television show “Cops” and began filming as they looked for a suspect whom they were told by staffers was not there.

Recently, people waiting in line for a meal at Blanchet House were confronted by a plain-clothes officer who began asking them to identify a person in a picture. He also asked them for their identification, and ran them through the system. They were checked for criminal activity, and one person was arrested and then released after it was found he had a warrant for failure to appear in court. Staffers there say the questioning and ID check is not uncommon for their customers waiting outside for a warm meal.

And for months, the police have targeted Sisters of the Road Café as a nuisance area, compiling complaint calls from a two-block area, which includes bars, the bus mall, and an environment well documented for drug dealing unrelated to Sisters’ 30-year operation. Police are now in negotiations with Sisters to gain concessions for access to the café and its population.

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Portland controversial program offered as example for nation

On Thursday, July 30, two Portland Police officers in charge of the controversial Service Coordination Team presented a workshop in Washington D.C. at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference along with representatives from Central City Concern and Volunteers of America. Continue reading

Judge’s ruling advances anti-camping lawsuit

campingbanA district judge has given the green light to a group of people experiencing homelessness to go forward with their class-action lawsuit against the city of Portland’s camping ordinance.

In a decision reached Friday, District Judge Ann Aiken ruled against the city in its effort to dismiss the grounds for the lawsuit, concluding, in laymen’s terms, that the suit  – which seeks to declare the city’s no camping ordinance unconstitutional – has the muster to go forward.

The group of four homeless individuals say that the city’s enforcement of no camping and temporary structures ordinances “criminalize the status of being homeless, singles out the homeless for disparate treatment, and prevents the homeless from traveling to or residing in the city of Portland.” Three of the four plaintiffs have disabilities.

Altogether, attorneys with the Oregon Law Center argued five reasons why the lawsuit should go forward. Judge Aiken supported two – that the ordinances violated their rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eigth Amendment, and their rights to equal treatment under the law. The judge dismissed their claims to defend their rights to free travel, freedom of movement, and due process.

Monica Goracke with the Oregon Law Center says that  the judge’s ruling allows the case to proceed. “The next step is to exchange information in the discovery process,” Goracke says, which will mean several more months will pass before there is any further decision on the plaintiff’s claims.

The city prohibits camping or the construction of temporary structures on public property. However, those ordinances may be lifted by the city in “extraordinary circumstances.”

In a recent report from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, Oregon now leads the nation in the precentage of homeless people per capita. Oregon’s homeless rate is 0.54 percent, according to HUD.

Read more in Friday’s Street Roots.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

Mental health care funds left behind in the recovery

In February, Chris Bouneff got a phone call from a man whose wife has bipolar disorder. She had been managing it well with private health care, the caller said, but then the couple both lost their jobs, and their insurance was about to lapse. He wanted to know where else they could go for the mental health services his wife needed.

“He’s calling, saying, ‘What do I do?'” recounted Bouneff, who is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Oregon branch. “What do you say to someone like that? ‘Sorry’?”

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City’s new anti-camping policy drawing fire

Posted Dec. 3, 2008

campingban

Word is getting around about the city’s new camping ordinance guidelines as reported in the latest Street Roots. Reporter Amanda Waldroupe sheds light on new procedures that slipped under the radar as the city touted shelters, warming centers and assorted good-n-fuzzies. But the truth is, the city is expanding its opportunities to roust and displace, without notice, the growing number of our neighbors trying to stay warm, dry and safe at night. This, even as the city says shelter providers report about a 50 percent increase in the numbers of families seeking shelter.

Loaded Orygun adds great commentary to the subject. Read it here, and lend your voice to the discussion.

Read “New guidelines waive 24-hour notices to homeless campers” after the jump

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

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Joe Anybody’s files tort claim for Police taking his camera

Posted Sept. 16, 2008

Mike Tabor, better known as Joe Anybody, has been documenting the streets for years with his video camera. He’s now suing the city to prompt a change in laws to end the police practice of confiscating cameras and stifling filming of police activities. He doesn’t want money or fame, he wants the citizenry to be able to monitor the police without fear of retaliation or punishment.

Here is Joe’s latest statement on his efforts.

By Joe Anybody

An update on the situation where ( i ) an independent media videographer (and average joe citizen) who filmed the police in downtown Portland, had his camera confiscated and was issued a ticket. The ticket based on ORS 165.540 was for illegally recording a conversation without consent. An hour later, they gave me back the camera complete with my tape. That was on March 25 2008.

Portland Indy Media link regarding this is here:

It was weeks later at court that I was told: “The charges were not being pursued by the DA at this time.” They said I should “check back-in, in a couple weeks”
I did and they were not pursuing it.

The fact of “no charges” is great, of course. Only now, I have to worry for two years that they “might change their minds.”
That is real comforting. (not)
Continue reading

Street folks talk sidewalk laws

August 1, 2008

On Tuesday July 27, Street Roots interviewed 27 individuals experiencing homelessness and two canvassers on Portland street corners.

Fifteen of the 27 individuals had been given verbal or written warnings or citations for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Twelve of those interviewed say they have also been warned by some form of private security or building owners not to sit on the sidewalks. Almost everyone Street Roots talked to had been given a park exclusion notice in the last 30 days – many of which came from Portland Patrol Inc.

Street Roots will be spending two more days on the streets this weekend and next week interviewing individuals on the streets about their experience with the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Interviews will be published in next weeks Street Roots coming out on August 8th. Here’s a few excerpts. 

Jace and Chris, two canvassers with Children’s International at SW Third and Morrison

Street Roots: Have you been given a warning or citation for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance?

Jace: Sometimes if I’m sitting down smoking a cigarette I will be told I can’t be sitting down,  but what I notice is that the cops will be very nice to me, but actually give people who look homeless actual written warnings. I’ve witnessed three or four people who are homeless being targeted for the law.

Street Roots: So, you’ve witnessed people on the streets being targeted?

Jace: I’ve witnessed only homeless people on the streets being warned or ticketed.

Street Roots: Are the people giving warnings police or private security guards?

Chris: Both. In fact, on this street corner it’s more private security than anyone else in my experience. I mean, let’s be honest, the private security guys don’t answer to anybody, what are you going to do? 

 

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