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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Frashour Rally Planned at City Hall; Jefferson Smith "Disappointed" in Ruling

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Developments are afoot this morning in the wake of yesterday's news that the Oregon Employment Relations Board has ordered Mayor Sam Adams to reinstate the fired Portland police officer who shot and killed a distraught, unarmed man, Aaron Campbell, in 2010.

• The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is planning a picket line and news conference outside city hall at 11 this morning—it's meant to help show support for Adams, who has vowed to seek a court challenge of the ERB's ruling, provided he can persuade two of his fellow city commissioners to go along with him.

The AMA also has a personal stake in the employment board's ruling, having filed a legal brief alongside the city arguing that reinstating Frashour, which the city also was ordered to do this spring by a labor arbitrator, would violate "public policy" standards.

• Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith, supported by the Portland Police Association, has issued a statement (at the Mercury's request) expressing disappointment in the ERB ruling but offering only conditional support for a court challenge. But he echoed comments given to me yesterday by City Commissioner Nick Fish suggesting it's up to the city attorney's office to demonstrate at least something close to a path to victory. (His rival, Charlie Hales, did not respond to a request for comment sent yesterday afternoon.)

I am disappointed in this ruling. I don’t think it moves us closer to healing the rift between police and our community.

I’ve been on the record for months in support of turning every stone in this case, including any appeal where we have a legal leg to stand on. If the City Attorney and trusted outside counsel determine we lack legal footing, then we should put our energy and resources (we have spent $750,000 on this case so far) into fixing the underlying problems.

Read the rest of Smith's statement, which includes many of his reform ideas for the police bureau and is heavily influenced by the feds' recent ruling about the cops' harsh treatment of those perceived to be mentally ill, after the jump.

The arbitrator ruled that Officer Frashour followed his training; improving training practices must be a top priority. The recent Department of Justice findings amplify the imperative in addressing the root causes of this problem.

Last week, we offered a series of recommendations. Several seem pertinent today:

Problem-solving focus: Training to focus on officers arriving on the scene with a mindset to solve problems–not limited to punishment or arrest. The new training center is a chance to enhance training practices.

Data to Improve Training: Develop better training programs through analyzing data collected, particularly to reduce violence, profiling, and deal with people with mental health issues.
Mobile Crisis Unit: Currently, it serves only one precinct, and does not respond to crisis calls. We must take the MCU city-wide.

Mental Health Crisis Facilities: Since the closure of the Crisis Triage Center in 2001, it’s harder for police to connect people with the services they need. We need to work with the county to expand MCU units and improve crisis options so emergency rooms, detox centers, or jail are not the only options.
Eyes on the street: A community-oriented safety system requires resources.

Healthy Citizens Review: Essential for accountability and building trust. If within a year the oversight body has not come up with sufficient accountability measures, I will call for stronger measures to be put in place.

Diverse Bureau: We need a police bureau that reflects a changing Portland: diverse in race, creed, religion, and thinking.

For 40 years, our City has faced divisions between our officers, police management, and our community. Working together, with reform advocates, community leaders, and the many good men and women sworn to serve, we can bridge divisions and rebuild trust between our police and community. Do that right, and we will make these tragedies less likely in coming years as we move to a better future.

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