A big part of the president's job is to represent the interests of police officers when they're being investigated or criticized in the wake of an officer-involved shooting or other calamity. When politicians think it'll be a popular move to talk smack about how police officers do their job, association presidents bristle.
That's how Turner reacted to City Commissioner Randy Leonard's proposal to increase external oversight of the police bureau after the Aaron Campbell shooting. Writing for the Rap Sheet, the association newsletter, he speculated that Leonard wanted "his own little Gestapo" to give oversight "more teeth."
"We're going to open up the lines of communication," he responded. "They [the city council members] are passionate about what they do, and we're passionate about what we do. We will have considerate conversations." In other words, he's decided to turn down the rhetoric.
He did use that awkward opportunity to segue into a worthwhile mention of how police officers are being increasingly required to step in and deal with mental health issues. "We realize that the mental health system [in Portland] has been pretty much gutted," said Turner. "We're having to do more of that work."
This morning, Commissioner Leonard reflected on the James Chasse death, saying that while training and protocol are important, an officer must be able to use his own judgment in the face of a threat. Otherwise, he said, "more of these cases will occur."
Turner said he agrees. "We do use our judgment," he said. "Policies change, and we adapt. We need to be able to explain that to the community."
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