Who Will Moniter the Police?

Published online September, 21st, 2012

The Federal Department of Justice has “indicted” the Portland Police Bureau for continued improper use of force. This indictment seems to single out the use of force on the mentally ill, which after all, have been left to the Police to deal with. While the mentally ill may “resist arrest” more vigorously and with more enthusiasm than say drunks that resist arrest, resisting arrest is just that. Resisting, and people that resist are probably going to get hurt!

In my time as a street cop in the City of Portland, I arrested a lot of unruly drunks and people that were high for “resisting arrest,” and sometimes they got hurt in the process. I remember cracking a man's skull while he was resisting arrest because he was pounding the hell out of me. Another time, a man ended up with a broken collar bone for resisting. Sometimes the resisters needed medical attention, sometimes it was ME that needed medical attention!

The DOJ is damned right to object to the overzealous use of these electronic torture devices they call STUN guns. Stun guns/Tasers are simply Cattle Prods with a shorter handle! The brutal truth that no one in law enforcement wants to hear is that cops can't be trusted with electronic torture devices. Rather than get their hands “dirty” they shoot the arrested with electricity.

Unfortunately tasers kill people. “Less than lethal” is a lie! The police culture that now exists think they need the Taser. They don't! I'm sort of amused, but not much, that sap gloves can't be used but somehow tasers are OK, and every jailer in this town also thinks they need tasers too. I hate to tell you this but the jailers at Alcatraz didn't have tasers and they got the job done with some of the most dangerous convicts America had to offer. A few years ago I ran for Sheriff of Multnomah county. One of my goals was to eliminate the use of electronic torture devices in the county. The county would have been better off for it.

The broader question is this: Just who will monitor the police? Police and city leaders sure as hell don't want an independent monitor, someone watching over them, assessing their performance. Police have always successfully insulated themselves from “monitoring” by anyone. They have always had their unconstitutional “Internal Affairs,” division protecting them from citizen complaints about their conduct whether it is just being rude to their real bosses, the citizen, or illegal activities against their bosses such as killing them with “less than lethal” methods. Ooops, the perp died. He wasn't supposed to, but he did. Now what? Law suit pending?

My advise is to dump all ETD's in use by police. Go back to the “choke hold” we cops used in the past. I worked alone on the graveyard shift here in PDX for many years before tasers were invented and I used the choke hold many, many, many times. No one I used it on died!! Remember there is a difference between a choke hold and strangling someone. Controversial? Sure. Police work is by its very nature controversial. Necessary use of force will never be pretty and excessive use of force will never be legal. There is a very fine line between legal use of force and criminal assault. Continually crossing over the line is what has brought the DOJ here in the first place.

I have lived in this town longer than many of the present police officers have been alive and there has always been some type of so-called “citizen review board,” to address complaints against the police. So if there has always been citizen review, why are the Feds here? Because the review boards have no TEETH. They make recommendations which are ignored. No enforcement...no change. That's why the FEDs are here.

Listen! Cops work for the citizens. Citizens should hear all complaints against police in open forum without interference by the police union or Internal Affairs. They both work as a layer of insulation between blue uniformed offenders and their citizen bosses, and foster the culture of privilege enjoyed by police here for too many years.

The bottom line for me is this: Clean up your own shit and the Federal government will stop looking at you! It is too late for the present Mayor Sam Adams to do anything about it. Mayor wannabe's, fix it!!

By Don DuPay