The Portland Observer recently revamped its website, and news editor Jake Thomas has been doing a great job of attending meetings throughout the community. I check in over there at least once a day and would recommend you add the site to your list of blog feeds. Thomas's reporting diligence was rewarded Wednesday night at a meeting of the city's human rights commission, attended by Police Chief Rosie Sizer:
“In my experience, whenever the police do something, whether it be the right thing or the wrong thing, it’s justified [by the bureau],” said Patricia Ford, a member of the committee who also asked if the 12-year-old girl got any support.
Sizer said that she couldn’t comment on whether the girl got support, and explained that holding officers accountable can be complicated since there needs to be a careful review of employment case law before an action can be taken.
Darryl Kelley, a former gang member who serves on the committee, questioned whether the officer should have shot a 12-year-old girl when he was clearly bigger and stronger.
“When you think about excessive force, that’s pretty excessive,” said Kelley, who wondered out loud how much support he’d get if he shot someone.
Kelley said that the incident was a “huge step backward” for community policing.
Hector Lopez, a former United Church of Christ minister who serves as the committee’s chair, asked Sizer to comment on the actions of the police union.
Sizer descried the union’s actions as “overtly political.” She also noted that the union was willing to be part of dialogue on the issue.
Stephen Manning, an immigrant lawyer and member of the committee, said that people have a hard time distinguishing between the police union and the police bureau.
Ford added that she has an 11-year-old grand daughter who asked if she would be shot by the police.
“To the community, it feels like this officer is going to do whatever,” she said.