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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Reprehensible and Wrong": Mayor Answers Vitriolic Article on Frashour Firing

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 4:24 PM

A day after Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner took to the internet and smacked the Portland Police Bureau and Mayor Sam Adams' office over their decision to fire the cop who shot and killed Aaron Campbell, the mayor hit back with strong words of his own.

He calls Turner a bully and says his "rant"—especially its accusations that former training Lieutenant Robert King was mendacious and incompetent—was "reprehensible and wrong."

The Portland Police union's personal attack on Portland Police Lt. Robert King is reprehensible and wrong. The union's latest attempt at character assassination is part of a pattern of behavior that must stop. Too often, instead of discussing the facts of a matter, the union tries to discredit or bully those who disagree with them. In this case, it appears the Portland Police union also is trying to sway the members of the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB). Enough is enough. The Portland Police union's rant should be disregarded as the City seeks to have the Oregon ERB carefully consider and overturn the Arbitrator's decision to reinstate Ron Frashour.

The Mercury first wrote about Turner's Rap Sheet article Tuesday afternoon. By this morning, other media outlets in town had picked up on it, and finally the mayor's office and Chief Mike Reese's office decided they would have to respond.

When first approached for a comment during this morning's city council meeting, Adams said he hadn't read Turner's screed. But by the afternoon, his deputy chief of staff, Amy Ruiz, was huddling with him while the council was hearing testimony on the fire bureau's plans to build a new boat launch on the Willamette. Later, during a coincidentally timed hearing on a high-profile outside study on police shootings, Ruiz returned to the chambers to get Reese's thoughts on the statement.

The union and the city are still dueling over Adams' refusal to reinstate Frashour. The O, this morning, when it wrote about Turner's article, included some new details about the PPA's demands in that fight.

Update 4:40 PM: Reese has issued a much lengthier (and blistering) statement of his own. Reese defends King, who spent eight years as PPA president.

The personal attacks in the article regarding the integrity and competence of Lt. Robert King are particularly unfortunate and without merit. Robert's long tenure as a respected PPA president representing members in officer-involved shootings, his past experience as an instructor in the Training Division, and his own personal perspective as an officer involved in deadly force incidents, helped guide his training analysis. He was well-qualified to conduct this analysis, which was a thorough review of the training doctrine and the officers’ actions. The statement that his analysis was based on political pressure is also speculative, untrue and without merit.

He also takes umbrage at Turner's suggestion that he and Adams worked out a deal to fire Frashour in the weeks before Adams took the police commissioner's post and then made Reese his handpicked police chief.

It is also regrettable you resort to speculation and guesswork to bolster your case. To be clear, there was never an agreement between Mayor Adams and me prior to my appointment as Chief of Police regarding the outcome of this matter. To say otherwise is ludicrous and insulting. The personnel decisions I made in this case were incredibly difficult and it took months of careful review of the information contained in the various investigations before I arrived at proposed findings.

Read the full text of Reese's reply after the jump.

PPA President Turner:

I read your article in the recent Rap Sheet and was surprised at the mischaracterization of facts in the article surrounding the investigation into the tragic death of Aaron Campbell. As a result, I must respond.

As you know, in an effort to keep this matter transparent and open, the Police Bureau placed on its website various documents for the public, including: the Detective's Division investigation, the Grand Jury transcripts, the Professional Standards Division investigation, the Training Division analysis, the Police Review Board finding, and the letters of discipline. This was done so that the folks in the Bureau and the community could read the various findings and come to their own conclusions without having the information filtered by management or labor. Your comments about the way the training analysis was conducted were out of context and did not actually address its conclusions in a substantive manner.

The personal attacks in the article regarding the integrity and competence of Lt. Robert King are particularly unfortunate and without merit. Robert's long tenure as a respected PPA president representing members in officer-involved shootings, his past experience as an instructor in the Training Division, and his own personal perspective as an officer involved in deadly force incidents, helped guide his training analysis. He was well-qualified to conduct this analysis, which was a thorough review of the training doctrine and the officers’ actions. The statement that his analysis was based on political pressure is also speculative, untrue and without merit.

It is also regrettable you resort to speculation and guesswork to bolster your case. To be clear, there was never an agreement between Mayor Adams and me prior to my appointment as Chief of Police regarding the outcome of this matter. To say otherwise is ludicrous and insulting. The personnel decisions I made in this case were incredibly difficult and it took months of careful review of the information contained in the various investigations before I arrived at proposed findings.

Finally, you call for an independent investigation into the Portland Police Bureau and the Training Division Review of this incident. Therefore, I urge you to read the OIR report that was just completed at the direction of the City Auditor. They analyzed officer-involved shootings from 2004-2011, including the death of Aaron Campbell. OIR stated that the analysis of the Campbell shooting was thoughtful, rigorous and better than prior reviews.

It's unfortunate that the relationship between management of the Police Bureau and the leadership of the PPA has deteriorated. When I became Chief of Police, I committed to improving that relationship and invited the PPA, PPCOA and DCTU to attend our weekly executive team meetings and monthly General Staff meetings so as to include labor in the decision making processes. Your article in the Rap Sheet further erodes that relationship and makes it difficult to have a positive dialogue on the many public safety initiatives underway.

My understanding was that the PPA and the City agreed not to release details of the arbitration as other related matters are pending. Moreover, the ERB case regarding Ron Frashour’s case is still pending, and any public discussion about the arbitration should be restricted for obvious reasons.

I understand we disagree about this matter, but we can continue to disagree without resorting to unfounded speculation and name-calling. It is disheartening to see you publicly discuss this case in a way that is counterproductive to moving forward and which does nothing to help support officers in the extraordinary job we ask of them each day.

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