Interview with retired PPB Captain and former homicide detective, CW Jensen, September 2nd, 2011
Multnomah Athletic Club, SW Portland.
In my sixth interview with law enforcement, I'd rather I didn't appear overly analytical. I will say that I found CW to be very open and direct about his experiences as a police officer and his experiences working with PPB administration.
CW worked first as a patrol officer and later in the homicide detail and also as a Captain. Working in homicide CW was responsible for breaking several very important and well known homicides including the string of child murders committed by pedophile and sociopath Westley Allen Dodd during the middle 1980's.
Though CW appeared initially reserved after we met, something I've noticed before, in my interviews with law enforcement retired and working, (who tend to be reluctant and suspicious) I noticed that in time he became more relaxed and was more natural and forthcoming about his memories, various frustrations with command staff and also his 1985 experience with lethal force; which clearly impacted him in a very profound and complex manner.
I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and was consistently amused by his dry humor and perspective. I consider this another great interview, another way for a former police officer to share intimately, in an atmosphere of respect, his thoughts, views and perspectives on a variety of complex issues that most people will never understand or experience themselves.
Thank you CW for giving us a window into your past.
CW Jensen, 2012
CWJ: So, who else have you interviewed?
TK: I've interviewed Bert Combs, Sgt Davis--he's now a Lt and then Don Dupay, Scott Westerman and Jim Bellah.
CWJ: Yeah, we did--I was in a shooting in January of 85 and then I'd gotten promoted and I investigated a shooting in 1985--in December--Jim and I--an officer involved shooting.
TK: Uh huh. Yeah, he's a really smart guy.
CWJ: Yeah, he's a good guy.
TK: He gave me some--I don't know if you read the interview I did with Don Dupay? He's kind of a character but Jim had a lot to say about that--that he didn't agree with. Okay, so it looks like its recording now. These are the questions. I tried to come up with some interesting things I had found on-line and just some of the general questions that I ask. Because you know--you find some pretty crazy things on-line. (laughs).
CWJ: Huh! (laughs).
TK: I was really surprised when I found that one-page on-line thing. I'd never seen it before.
CWJ: Which thing?
TK: Number four. Really, really thrown together.
TK: So, anyway do you want to start?
TK: Okay, so why did you feel compelled to become involved in law enforcement? What made you want to become a police officer?
CWJ: I had always been interested in it--kind of. I can remember when I was four-years-old, being in Seattle with my mother in the car. And there was a motorcycle officer right ahead of us and he turned around and I was sitting in the front seat and I waved at him and he waved back. And when I was going to college--I was going to Lewis and Clark--I'd gone to a couple different colleges, U of O and Clackamas and I was a shot putter and...
TK: A what?
CWJ: A shot putter; I was an athlete.
TK: Oh, okay, okay.
CWJ: And so, I really was thinking about just going into business. My Dad was in sales and then I was an Art Ed major in college. So--but then I just kind of got a wild hair and I just decided to take the test--and so I did. And I mean like everybody says, you know--I just thought it'd be a fun job. You know everybody always says I wanted to do something and I wanted to--and it wasn't really that I wanted to do great things or anything like that but I just thought it'd be a really cool job and it was. I was 21-years-old--22-years-old and it was awesome. So...
TK: You worked the homicide detail for a couple of years during your career. Can you describe what goes into working as a homicide detective. What qualities are most needed in a homicide detective?
CWJ: Hmmm. I had got promoted and I was working afternoons--burglary. And my Lt. thought--I wanted to go to narcotics and work with a buddy of mine but my Lt was impressed by how hard I worked. And so he sent me to homicide and I ended up working with a guy named Dave Simpson, who was a uh--he's at Nike now but he worked homicide for many years. His son is now one of the PIO's, Peter Simpson.
TK: Oh yeah, yeah.
CWJ: And so--I don't--back in the day--I mean it was really a big deal to work homicide. There was a real distinction between, you'd go to someone's house and you'd give them your card and it said "Detective Jensen-Burglary" and they'd be like whatever! But if you leave a card and it says "Detective Jensen Homicide detail" you'd get a call back! But I just thought I was--I just thought it was fun and it was a big deal. And now, they get pager pay and all that kind of stuff but it was just...
TK: They get what?
CWJ: Oh pager pay? If you're on call and stuff like that. And we had--back then--I mean we would average about a killing a week. Now, they have maybe like 25-30 a year? I mean in 87 I did 11 as a primary. So, it was just--it was a big deal. I can remember going to my first autopsy and how cliché! I almost got dizzy! And it was just like OH DEAR GOD! But it was just a big deal! It was like the A Team, it was a varsity. So, it was just--you know--I mean burglary is fun and all that kinda stuff but when you're working homicides? You know, its just a big deal.
TK: Okay. Would you like to comment on the situation with former PPB officer Lindsey Hunt and her allegations that Portland Police officers were corrupt because they were taking sodas from a local area convenience store? Do you think that Hunt is credible and what do you believe her motivations were for making such accusations against PPB?
CWJ: I don't know what her problem is but I mean seriously? If I owned a store and the cops came in? I mean, we used to get free coffee, we'd get half priced meals. I mean...
TK: Because they want them to come back.
CWJ: Well yeah! I mean its just like--you know, I mean so big deal! I mean so... seriously? They're getting a free soda? I mean what a--maybe she just wasn't cut out for it! But if I owned a store, I'd give the cops--I'd give fire fighters--I'd give nurses--I'd give whoever--if its my business I'll give you know, whatever! I mean--I just think that she obviously had a problem. Everybody seemed to have bent over backwards to help her and all that kinda stuff. But to think I mean "corrupt" to get a pop or something like that? I mean come on! I mean seriously!
Photo of Derrick Foxworth, Tom Potter, CW Jensen and Chief Moose...
TK: And the grand jury voted against her as I heard, I think.
CWJ: Well yeah, she sued and she didn't win. So, I mean, its just--the police bureau, especially now? Its--you know everybody does things--it was a lot different 30 years ago. I mean...we beat people up and you know and--now? I mean they do things so much by the book now. And I just think that was,,, ridiculous. She obviously has some kind of a bigger issue with the bureau because that's--I mean, like I said if I owned a store, I'd give the cops whatever they wanted! (laughs).
TK: Okay. Recently I found a rather poorly worded online page called "The Sleazy Character of CW Jensen" written and uploaded to the Internet in 2010. In this single online page and by all appearances a rather thrown together page, the anonymous author attempts to suggest that you are incorrect in your assessment of Terri Horman's guilt based on the "plot for hire" and the significance of how this "paints a picture of Terri's character" which you are quoted as saying. Do you also believe the fact that Terri Horman broke up the marriage of Kaine Horman and his first wife Desiree Young, getting him to abandon his wife when she was six months pregnant with their child, to be another red flag indicator or Terri Horman's character and what she would be capable of in terms of malicious intent towards others? Because for me, that was a big thing.
CWJ: Well, there's all sorts of things about me. (laughs). I mean, I've been in the media for the better part of 20 years and--TV shows and all sorts of things.
TK: Uh huh?
CWJ: Terri Horman killed that little kid!
CWJ: I mean--and um--the fact that she broke up his first marriage is not--I mean--she's--the--the district attorney said "there's probable cause to believe that she was involved in the disappearance" so probable cause is what I use to arrest people. So they basically said--she's guilty! If they found his body or bits of him tomorrow, they'd arrest her! I've said before, she's really got to be living kind of a miserable life. I mean, Here's a woman in her forties that's living with her parents...
TK: Lost her child...
CWJ: Lost her child! Doesn't know when someone's going to come and knock on the door. And she knows its going to come! So, I mean its just--like I said at the very beginning, I said "there's three things that could have happened." He could have wandered off. That wouldn't happen! I mean--he did--that was his job--he went to school every day--he liked it. Two: a stranger could have come to Skyline School in the middle of nowhere and snatched him. I don't think so! I did the last stranger killing--of a little kid in 1989. Or she did it! I mean, she's 'sexting' she's plotting to kill her husband and all that stuff. I mean its...
TK: And it is--what I was impressed with is the fact that--is what you said! "It paints a picture of Terri's character" because it does!
CWJ: Well, yeah! I mean, its just like--you put all those things together and what are the chances that there's any other explanation? There isn't! So--I mean...she's a creep!
TK: Yeah. Okay, can you describe the way you were trained to subdue a resisting felon? Was it more hands on when you were an officer as opposed to today when many officers reach for something on their belt?
CWJ: Yeah, we had--on my gun belt, when I got hired I had speed loaders--or drop pouches. You know, six bullets in each I think. We only had one pack-set in the car. So, my coach drove and he didn't have a radio on his belt. And so, you had a gun--we had Mace--which was actually chemical mace? And the first--my coach--I'd been on the street like four days--five days and so I was working with a guy and he goes "You have Mace?!" and I go "Yeah" and he goes "give it to me!" and then I go "Okay" and so I handed it to him. And we drove up to 24th and Alberta and we drove up there and he pulls up to this house and he just bangs on the side of the car and this dog comes running out and he just peppers him out! (laughs). And he--and he goes "I hate that dog!" and just threw my Mace into the street and off we drove. (laughs).
TK: Uh huh. (laughs).
CWJ: And that was the last time--you know--that's all we had. But you know, we'd choke people out. You'd fight people! Where now--people that physically shouldn't be police officers can be police officers now because we give them tasers and Mace or pepper and bean bags! We have all these different things that people can do--where we would fight people! You'd be punching people and choking people out! I mean, I had a night stick but I never--I never used it! So...
TK: What do you think about the height requirement that seems to no longer exist? Do you think that police officers here in Portland should be taller than 5/3 if they're a man?
CWJ: Well, you know--I just--do people need to be? I mean--we had--you couldn't be older than 35. You had to be--I think you had to be 5/9 or something like that. You had to be all these different things. Now do people really need to do that? I don't know. But clearly there's people, not only in Portland but in law enforcement that you look at and just go...30 years ago, they couldn't have done the job!
CWJ: But now they've got all these things that you know--I mean, you don't ever have to put hands on people. And um, its saved lives but like I say, you see some people out there, not only here but I go all over the country and you just look at people and go Jesus! I mean, I worked out all the time. I benched 400 pounds when I was 24-years-old. We worked out! Because you knew that you had to win! And now, that's just--that's just the nature of the beast is that people can just--now if you don't do what I say, instead of putting hands on, you just zap em! So...
TK: What qualities and attributes are needed in a professional and competent police officer?
CWJ: Well, I think now--I think we always were professional and competent? It was just different. I think that now, the cops have to be so much more careful because everything is--theres video camera's everywhere. Everybody can tape you, (gestures to the MP3 player) where you could kinda get away with some stuff back in the day. And now, I mean its just a whole different--I mean if you're 21-years-old, 22-year-old now? Its just a whole different society than it was when I was 21, 22-years-old. And the guys that I was dealing with, some of them were from Vietnam and things like that. But I mean, cops are very professional. I mean, they care!
TK: That's what I've learned; 9 out of 10 police officers are perfectly fine human beings.
CWJ: Yeah, I mean, they're really good people. I'm really impressed. They are officers for this century. Not 1978--they are cops for today! But everybody kind of adjusts to what you have to adjust to. So...I'm glad that I got to work back in the day.
TK: Uh huh, yeah. What are your thoughts on women in police work? Did you prefer working with male partners?
CWJ: Uh-hum. (smiles). I uh, yeah!
TK: Okay. (laughs).
CWJ: I mean--I had a--I had a great--when I was a detective--when I was in Burglary--I had a partner--a gal and we just had a blast together! It was really fun but I preferred when I was on the street...I just--I just liked to be with another guy.
TK: You can be honest. Is it because you felt like you were safer? Because you know I mean...(laughs).
CWJ: I uh, God, I think it was like 1981 and I was working I think days or something and I made the mistake of telling my female Sgt that I really didn't feel like working with a woman! So, she put me with a woman! And I took the last half off but I basically said I just don't--I really--I really don't want to work with women. (smiles).
CWJ: And uh--you know--because that was when women were first getting into law enforcement. I mean 1978--79 and...
TK: Jim Bellah said it was that they weren't trained very well and he said that they were treated by the supervisors kind of like "little sisters." I thought that was an interesting way to put it...and they were coddled a little bit, that's what he said.
CWJ: Well, yeah! I mean they would! And you would automatically, if you heard a woman go out on something by herself? You'd get like four cars there because everybody was just...you know! And again there was no pepper--there was no bean bags--there was no tasers and stuff like that. I mean if I was working out all the time and big and strong and 230 pounds--and I did that because I knew that there were times that you were gonna have to fight. And you'd sit there and you'd go--you'd have some little gal that was five foot four or something like that and you'd just go "Oh God!"
TK: Okay. (laughs). Use of force and violence seem to be integral aspects of police work. Do you think the public and various community members are naive when they complain about any use of force, when use of force is needed to contend with equally forceful and dangerous criminals, who can inflict injuries on officers? Because that's a common criticism here in Portland.
CWJ: Well, I think the problem is that people don't have a clue about what really goes on and things like that! Because in their life, you don't have to fight people and you don't have to chase people and you don't have to do all those kinda things...that they just don't understand why cops have to! And the bottom line is, that there's a lot of people that don't do what they've supposed to do! And there's people that will fight cops and so you have to be--you know--you have to be ON it! And we've had officers assaulted all the time. I got--as big as I was and as strong as I was--I got hurt a few times! And its just, there's people that--it doesn't matter what the situation is! We had a deal a couple years ago where an officer got shot and then they blasted the guy and killed him and they were criticized! I mean seriously? You shoot a police officer and then you get shot and killed and then you criticize?
TK: John, uh, what was his name?
CWJ: I don't know but it was up in the North end, it was...
TK: Scott Westerman talked about it. He was upset about it too.
CWJ: I mean yeah, its was just like...
TK: Burley! Burley! Officer Burley, (Officer Christopher Burley) he was the one that got shot in the leg and then they killed the guy. Yeah, I know what you mean.
CWJ: Right but that guy was not shooting him to shoot him in the leg! He was shooting him to kill him! Especially this city? I think things are different than Maricopa County, in Phoenix. But this is a goofy town and it always will be. So...
TK: It always has been...(laughs).
CWJ: It always has been and always will be! Yeah! (smiles).
TK: Okay, how did working in law enforcement effect your personal life?
CWJ: Well, I got post traumatic stress disorder. I mean, I was...
TK: From the constant stress?
CWJ: Well, it depends. I was in a fatal shooting and then I had a case where a guy, Westley Allen Dodd, killed three little boys and my daughter was the same age as Lee Iseli and...similar. And so it was only after I was diagnosed with that that I started to read about it and I could see the things that I was involved in had just REALLY effected me. And it took a decade to where I got back to normal.
TK: That's a common problem with police officers, working and retired, is that they become afflicted with PTSD. Because of the constant daily stressors and how it effects them. Of all the homicides you either investigated or solved, which homicide still bothers you the most?
CWJ: You know, I had a pretty good track record. I met with a buddy of mine, that I worked homicide with and we had a case...that um--Grace Tirrell. That--that's one case and then I had another case...Casey Anne Perry who was a little 10-year-old girl that...vanished! And we boxed her Dad and he was--he was shaky on it...and so that one--there's a couple cases that you think about.
TK: Does it remain unsolved?
CWJ: Uh-hum. Yeah, when I was a lieutenant, at homicide, a couple of guys, before we had a cold case unit, they--they looked into it too--it was just a tough-- just a tough case.
TK: But your feeling was that maybe the father?
TK: But there was no body ever recovered?
TK: Yeah, that's always the kicker.
CWJ: Yeah that one was a tough one. Things like that--you just sit there and go--like when I was talking to my buddy John and he was going "Oh that case" and "I remember this case" and you get so--its very intimate when you work homicide. You get to know the families and you know the victims. And so many just like--Spy Vs. Spy, Dirt-bag/dirt-bag and its no big deal? But the ones where its nice people? And it shouldn't have happened to them? That's when you get satisfaction when you arrest somebody. But its like I said to somebody when we arrested Dodd for killing those little boys--I looked at my partner, he was from Clark Country and I go "The bottom line is, the kids are still dead! I mean--the kids are still dead!" You know, you arrest him and he gets executed or whatever but you're not bringing anybody back. That's the thing about homicide.
TK: Right. Right. Okay. What was the most fun about working on American Detective and some of the Cops episodes that featured you and what do you remember most? Because some of those were pretty wild. (laughs).
CWJ: I worked--Steve Baumguart and I and we were working together...
TK: What's his name?
CWJ: Steve Baumguart...and we just had--so they came to us and they said--we had a Wednesday roll call in homicide--and they came in and they go--because they had done a Cops episode in Portland, in like 85...
TK: I remember...
CWJ: And so this was like--1990 and they come in and they go "yeah so they're gonna follow the Homicide Team around" and I go "FUCK that!" I go "I don't want any part of that!" I says "NO WAY!" I said "I don't want anybody following ME around, cause I'm gonna get in trouble!"
CWJ: And so we had a killing that night and they forgot to call them out and then the next night, we were on call. And it was a really good case because this one guy got in a shootout with another guy. He killed the guy--he got shot and it just had real good sound. Somebody was calling in going "Theres a shooting on North Michigan" and then you could hear BA-BOOM! BA-BOOM! BA-BOOM in the background! (laughs). And I convinced this guy--the suspect, to be interviewed by the--to sit there with the TV cameras and...Oh God, I just bullshiitted him!
CWJ: Told him what a difference he'd make in somebodies life if they could...oh God! (laughs). We just had a blast with the--after awhile you're driving around with these guys and so--it was just fun! They became our friends. I still talk to the producer, every now and then--he calls me 20 years later. It was just really, really fun! And then I met Paul Stajanovich who was the guy behind the thing and we became really good friends. And so...
TK: Was he like a producer?
CWJ: Yeah, yeah! He was behind the whole show. He was the executive producer. And then he moved--he moved here to Portland. He was down in Malibu, he had two kids, Paul and Chet. So they moved up a couple miles from where I live. And my daughter was real good friends with Chet and Paul and he became a real good friend of mine and so we were out one night in 96 right after I was done being PIO. And I says "what are you doing" and he says "Oh I'm going to do a special for Fox" and I go "what is it?" and he goes "Oh we're going to call it Worlds Scariest Police Chases" and I go "really?" And I go "what's it about?" and he goes "Oh we got video!" and that was when it was new! "and we got helicopters, dash cams. We got all this stuff and we got all these chases!" And I says "well, let me give you a piece of advice" I said "after having just done this for two and a half years explaining chases" and stuff like that--I go "its a real hot button" because people get killed! Its dangerous and so you have to kind of explain "we don't really want to do this but we have to do this"...even though we like to do it because its fun and nothing like being in a car chase! So, just have kind of a disclaimer that just says "Hey, we hate to do this but we gotta do it because you never know if that person is going to be a murderer or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! And so he goes "Oh, that's a good idea!" and he called me up a week later and he goes "Hey, how about I send down so and so and why don't you just do a little disclaimer for me?" and then he called me up and he goes "Hey, do you want to come down to LA and do it?" and I go "SURE!" So I flew down to LA and that was the very first show, "Worlds Scariest Police Chases." And it was the highest rated special that Fox had ever had. And it was the first Sweeps, because you know, Sweeps, February--May--whatever--November--it was the first major network that did it--I think we did it right after super-bowl or something like that, in 1997 and then they redid it the same month. The first time any network had done a special twice and the ratings were just huge! So then we did two, three, four, five, I think we did six of those. And then we did "Surviving the Moment of Impact" and then we did a couple of other things and then it got into a weekly--it got into the series and then I was going down about every three weeks or so, which pissed off the police chief! (laughs).
TK: Okay, you mentioned once on FB that working on law enforcement can "make you so happy and so sad." What did you mean by that?
CWJ: Well, I mean there's times that you do some things--you have fun and your friendships and things like that. But there's some things that are just-- you're dealing with just horrible, horrible things and like I say if its just some dirt-bag that gets killed, its no big deal. But then you see children abused and its tough when you have your own children. There's wonderful things that happen and fun things that happen. I started reading with the "Start Making a Reader Today; Smart Program" and I started reading to this little black kid when he was 8-years-old and he lives at my house now...and I changed his life. And so there were some great things but like I said, there's cases you don't solve. It can just--it can wear on you! Just to see so much crap and things like that. But if I could be 22, 23-years-old again and work the street? I'd do it in a heartbeat! It was just a blast! I mean I would have worked seven days a week. It was so--it was so much fun! Sitting and doing news releases in a uniform and typing things was not very exciting or deciding which Tee Shirts the trainees would have in the academy was not very exciting. But being a cop and working homicide--I mean, I've worked under cover. There were some pretty fun times!
TK: What was your personal perception of Westley Allan Dodd at the time that you and David Trimble arrested him? Marcia Coffey was once quoted as saying that Dodd seemed "alternately aroused and tortured by what he had done." Do you agree with her assessment?
CWJ: No, I don't think he was--I mean he liked doing it. We--remember when Ashly Pond and Miranda Ghaddis disappeared?
CWJ: At the same time, there were all these other--because I was working TV news at the time--there were all these other incidents where some girl would--somebody would try to--its always kind of funny how you have an incident like that and then there's these copycat kinda things that happen.
CWJ: So, we were working that Dodd case--we were working the Iseli case and a lot of people don't know but we went to Vancouver because they'd had the two boys on Labor Day--LABOR DAY!--that were killed in Vancouver. So we went to them and said "we've got a body that we found here at Vancouver Lake and you had these" and "No, no, no!" they said "we know who did ours!." Well, they were completely wrong! So they weren't in our Task Force but we were working--we were exhausted! We were working every single day!
TK: Following every lead?
CWJ: Yeah, I mean just trying to put together--it wasn't like now with computers. This was 1989! So we had like a 286 computer and we're trying to look up..."okay the kid was taken from 41 and Division and he was found in Vancouver, so we know the suspect has to have a vehicle." And so we're trying to figure out sex offenders and things like that. I think it was a Monday and I'd gone home--we were just tired! It was like the 14th of November and we'd both been working two straight weeks and we'd all gone home and then Dave called me up and he goes "Hey, they arrested this guy in Camas for trying to grab a kid in the theater. What do you think?" and I go "we gotta talk to him! One way or the other. Either he is or he isn't involved but we gotta either clear him or figure it out." So, we went over to Camas and we went in there and we didn't say what we were doing. We just were saying--we were talking about the attempted kidnapping in Camas and then we started talking about "well, there's these cases and these kids that have been killed" and "Oh God!" he said, "I'd never hurt a child!" What a lot of crooks will do is...they'll give you something. So, they'll say like...
TK: Right. A half truth?
CWJ: Yeah, they'll say "I'll admit to this." Like Burglars will do that. Its like "Oh, I"ve done these burglaries but I wouldn't do this homicide!' So, they'll give you a little something? So, he was kinda giving--"I"m a dirt bag and I've abused kids but I'd never HURT a kid!"
TK: That doesn't make sense.
CWJ: Yeah, it doesn't make sense! And so were were tired, it was like 3:00 in the morning. We'd been talking to him for a couple hours. And so I said to him, I go "here's the deal" I go "I need you to let me--gimme consent to search your car--gimme consent to search your residence" he was renting a room. And he goes "Uh, I'd need to talk to an attorney before I let you do that"
TK: Red flag?
CWJ: Uh-hum. And so I go "Okay, but you don't mind taking to us though right?!" And he goes "Oh, no, I don't mind talking to you" which was real important because when we got to the motion to suppress? They were saying that we shoulda stopped talking to him and what I said was "NO! He clearly understood that he could talk to an attorney about letting us search but he said he'd still talk to us. So, you have the right to remain silent? He didn't want to remain silent. He just wanted to say "as far as that stuff" and so we just--I had my arm around him you know? Its just--its just--you feel FILTHY afterwards! But I had my arm around him and I'm patting his back and "I know there's something really bothering you and I really think you need to get it off your chest" and I'm just kinda going Oh God, this guy is just really creeping me out! And he starts to sob up a little bit and I'm going "alright!" You can tell when they're gonna go! And then he all of a sudden he goes "Uh, cou--cou-could I get something to drink?" and I go fuck! We lost the moment--you know!--the moment! And so I go "Dave go get him something to drink" and so Dave goes to get him something to drink and then I look at him and I go "So, you like your job?" and he just kinda looks like--he goes..."Uh yeah" and I said "Yeah, it must be interesting shipping and" blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. and Dave came back with the water and we were right back on him then! "Okay, TELL me what's going on?!" and that's when he confessed. And he says , "on my key chain, you'll find a key and it unlocks a briefcase under my bed and in there you'll find sfuff."
TK: Diaries and?
CWJ: Yeah "about the boys" and when he said "the boys" we all of a sudden realized that Vancouver was wrong and he'd done them all! He had--what sex offenders will do--they keep souvenirs and so he had Lee's underwear--Ghost-buster underwear and stuff like that. So, I mean, he--he was very graphic as we talked to him? And then by the time we taped him, because we'd called Vancouver--by the time we taped him he was already kind of trying to clean it up a little bit? He enjoyed the notoriety--kind of like Ward Weaver did.
TK: Right, right.
CWJ: He enjoyed--he enjoyed the notoriety and once we got him to confess and talk? You couldn't shut the motherfucker UP! I mean he was on the radio! I was driving down--I was a lieutenant by the time he got executed and I was going down to a deal in Monmouth and he was on KXL talking about "going to hea-vuun!" and seeing the boys and telling them he's "sorry" and I mean, literally I pulled over and I almost puked! And I called Dave and I go "Dave, I can't tell this to anybody else" but I said "this whole thing? I just want to puke!" I said "I'm glad he's going to get killed? But Its just creeping me out!" Its just--its just a weird feeling!
CWJ: I mean, I've killed somebody! But its a whole other feeling to know that I had my arm around him and I got him to confess and then he gets executed! Well he WANTED to get hung because he used ligature on the children! So, that was the--sexually he was getting off on--and I think that he specifically wanted to get hung because I think that it bought into all of his sexual things. So, this--"tortured" by what he had done? FUCK NO! He was a scumbag! That's what he did--he said--he said "If I ever get out--I'll kill more kids!" and so...
TK: Okay. She had interviewed him and I remember seeing news footage of him and his eyes were always red-rimmed like he'd been crying all the time but I often wondered because anyone who could kill a child like that, you know, there's something...
CWJ: No, we talked to him, we got his confession and everything after that? Everything that he said after that, whether he talked to Ron Turco or whoever? Its that first interview! Its that first interview where someone is as honest as they're going to be.
TK: Right and they seem to get off on it?
CWJ: Right. And then after that then they start thinking...
TK: They start trying to cover their bases.
TK: Okay. Once while chatting on FB, you got into an amusing thread with Karl McDade and you mentioned "the wilderness" as anything I believe East of 82nd Avenue. Karl joked about coming to various areas and finding spent cartridges and having to write reports. What was "the wilderness" and what sometimes happened out there if you can recall? (laughs).
CWJ: You know, I don't know what we were talking about but funny things happened back in the day. I mean, its just like--and it happens a lot of different places--I don't think it happens anymore but back in the day guys would kill opossums and stuff like that. Remember the famous opossum incident in 1981?
CWJ: We walked out to our car--and I looked--you know you'd always check the back seat. And I looked in there and there was BLOOD all over the back seat! And I go "FUCK! Somebody got their ASS kicked GOOD!" Well, then we were later to find out that they'd shot the opossums and then dumped them up at the Burger Barn and when I found out I go "Boy, things are gonna change around here!" But I was in Pennsylvania a couple years ago talking to this cop who was my age, he was getting ready to retire at Penn State University. And he said that they used to have a 22 rifle and they'd go out and they'd shoot feral cats--and stuff like that--that would never happen now but guys--it was a couple years before me but they'd be shooting opossums. There were a lot of places--they'd go out and shoot rats and all sorts of things. So, I can imagine, you know 10 years before I was on...you know you had nothing to do? I mean, we'd go sleep...
TK: Don Dupay said that. He was a homicide detective. He worked from 61 to 78 and then he quit and he said that police officers would go out routinely and sleep on their shifts because he said that a lot of them had day jobs.
CWJ: No, we were just tired because you go--you'd have--you'd be working night shift--you'd have court all day. We parked at Union and Shaver one night, my buddy and I and we fell asleep and we woke up and it had--it had snowed! (laughs) And somebody had slashed our tires.
TK: Oh no! Really?
CWJ: While we were sleeping in the car. Yeah, yeah. (smiles).
TK: Oh my God, really? (laughs). Oh, that's terrible. Wow! (laughs).
CWJ: Well, yeah, I mean you would--you were just so tired. I'm sure people still do it. Its tough to work those shifts. So...
TK: That's terrible, I'm sorry to laugh, its just funny. Okay, why in your opinion do certain individuals in the Portland media seem preoccupied with vilifying PPB and its officers? What is it about police work that they don't seem to understand?
CWJ: You know I think most people--most people in the legitimate media? That are covering stories--since I"ve been a TV reporter--they understand what goes on but there's always an element of--if its sexy and it creates a controversy then the news media feeds into that.
TK: Uh huh?
CWJ: Sometimes--I'd sit there when they'd be taking about a story--when I was at KGW and I'd just go "You guys! Seriously?" I go "this is not a big deal!" I go "I've done life and death. This isn't life and death" but if it creates a controversy. Its like when Kendra James got shot or when some woman gets shot. Or there's a case that creates controversy. There's conscious decisions made in editorial--by the Oregonian and by TV stations to...
TK: To slant?
TK: Its interesting, especially in Portland, the way--when things happen, automatically the media comes to the conclusion that the officer was at fault...
CWJ: Yeah! And then when everythings has been investigated and its revealed that NO! Nothing was doing wrong, then that's kind of ignored. Its kind of like when they beat that Chasse guy up and when they...its like "well why did they chase after him?" Well, that's what we DO!
CWJ: If somebody runs you chase after them. I mean, that's...
TK: Right because if you run, the presumption is...
CWJ: Well, yeah, and its an unfortunate--its an unfortunate thing but the guy was in terrible shape! His family had abandoned him! And then of course they get a million dollars because he dies!
TK: That's interesting because I was like a lot of people. I was blaming Christopher Humphreys and other people for what happened to James Chasse. And then I found out doing research--I found out--I got on this little website and I discovered that Karin Gunson claimed he suffered from severe malnutrition--had the bone density of a 70-year-old man. And I didn't know that! And that was never reported and that totally changed my perception of that whole situation because...like Bert Combs told me once--most people can survive a hard tackle and not...
CWJ: Yeah, I mean I wouldn't have died.
TK: Yeah...but James Chasse suffered from severe malnutrition and that had a direct impact in what happened to him but I was like a lot of people thinking that...
CWJ: Yeah, it just--it was like the perfect storm! They weren't doing anything to him that hey hadn't done to other people or that I hadn't done to other people. I've tackled people--pushed people down--done all that. Its just that he wasn't built to do that because of lifestyle choices and all sorts of different things. But again, that's not he story that people want to see or want to criticize.
TK: Can I get a couple of pictures? I actually had my other camera but my daughter borrowed it when she went to Minnesota last week and I haven't gotten it back from her, so I only have this little piece of crap. (laughs).
TK: But anyway I would like to get a couple of pictures. But um...yes! This is another question I wanted to ask you. I think you mentioned once on FB that the "best turkey sandwich" you ever tasted was one that your mother had made for you a couple of days after Thanksgiving and you sat in your patrol car and enjoyed it as young police officer. How does a young officer manage to deal with the stress of the job and/or acquire the social support to continue with a career that proves daily its perilous dangers and constant life altering stressors?
CWJ: (heavy sigh)
TK: Because I remembered that you posted about that and I thought that was really cute...
CWJ: It was on--it was on Thanksgiving.
TK: Oh, it was on Thanksgiving?
CWJ: Yeah, it was on Thanksgiving. You know where Michael's Sandwich shop is there at Burnside?
TK: Yeah! Yeah!
CWJ: I sat--there in the...
TK: The parking lot? Oh yeah!
CWJ: I sat in the parking lot there...
TK: Yeah! I used to live about three blocks from there, for a long time. It was not the best place to live but...(laughs).
CWJ: I think that being a young police officer is kind of like being a young solider? You've got this incredible--you're learning stuff every day! Your friendships are just--we would go--you'd work all night and then you'd go out to have drinks the next day and talk stories and you'd listen to the older guys that were--and its just...
TK: So, like the camaraderie?
CWJ: Yeah, its just these wonderful friendships and--and its so exciting! Every day its just like--have you ever seen some of these videos from Iraq and Afghanistan and you can hear the soldiers and theres a gun battle going and some bomb comes down and they're yelling and screaming and laughing? They're in this perilous thing but they're having a blast!
TK: Right. I actually interviewed a solider from Afghanistan (Miah Washburn) and he was saying that he felt guilty about having to admit that it was kinda fun.
CWJ: Yeah! Its fun--you're chasing people down--you're getting in fights! You're winning!
CWJ: Its just like--Its a blast! I literally--I just loved every single day! The first big chunk--when I--when I questioned for the very first time--was when one of my best friends was killed in a drug raid and I...
TK: Who was that?
CWJ: Dave Crowther...(long pause).
TK: Right. Okay. I've heard of that. I've heard of him.
CWJ: Yeah. We found out later--that was when the whole special investigations division went down--because they'd been planting dope and bad search warrants and all that kinda stuff.
TK: Oh yeah.
CWJ: That was when--there was the--I think it was the Outsiders--not the Jokers but--back when I came on? Motorcycles gangs were--we had a big problem with motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels. They weren't the Hells Angels, but they were the Gypsy Jokers--the Outsiders.
TK: I can remember that--the early 70's.
CWJ: And we were always--we were always fucking with those guys.
CWJ: And then so Dave died and it was just like...it was just like WOW! It was just kinda shocking to lose...one of your best friends?!
CWJ: Because it was like?--we always won! You'd go out there and yeah, you'd get some bumps and bruises and stuff like that but Dave was the first officer killed since 1974 so for a lot of us it hadn't happened! And then BOOM! Its just like--you don't know how to react. Its just like I can...
TK: That is a good analysis though in terms of what you said earlier about police officers being "like soldiers" because a lot of soldiers when they come back? They get involved in a career in law enforcement but--the two--the two professions are very similar.
CWJ: Yeah and I just think that--its just--its something that--because you depend on someone other than--so there's a trust there that's different than a lot of jobs. If you're an accountant--yeah you work with other people but its not like you could say "God that guy saved my ass!" That person did this and uh...
TK: Right. Because there's a more kind of raw element to law enforcement--to being a police officer...a more um...well just life and death kind of...
CWJ: Yeah! And when you're listening to someone tell you what to do? They're telling you to keep you safe so you don't get hurt. So its different than learning how to write a news story--or its different than learning how to do a real estate deal--or its different than doing what I do now! And so you're sitting there listening to someone and then ultimately you're telling other people--and then YOU become the teacher! So, its a real special relationship. But its not like everybody likes everybody! And certainly the best people don't run things! The chief of police isn't the best policeman! You know what I mean? If you could--If there was an election, it would be much more interesting! (laughs).
TK: (laughs). Okay. I've heard that before actually. That's what Scott Westerman said. He was talking about administration and how a lot of incompetent people are promoted.
TK: When there's a civilian death in Portland, 9 times out of 10 its because the person fails to comply and follow orders and yet officers are routinely accused of maliciously, callously and intentionally having taken a human life through lethal force. Situations in which a person is executed by law enforcement are really very rare though many justifiable deaths often referred to as Suicide by Cop are often perceived as executions by the public and/or the vocal minority. The reality is often very different. What are your thoughts on this dynamic?
CWJ: Well, pretty much people that get shot deserve to be shot. And there is that--that deal where now people KNOW that if you exhibit certain behaviors and you WANT to die? That you'll get shot! And so it puts officers in a really difficult situation because sometimes the people--they point a gun? Sometimes its loaded--sometimes its not. Sometimes they shoot--sometimes they don't! But you have to--you know--you're gonna go home!
TK: Uh huh?
CWJ: So, the officers are just stuck into having to do that! And so--having done it? I can tell you that killing people isn't what we get into the job for! And I don't know anybody thats--I mean Westerman's been in shootings. Bellah shot somebody...I think they wounded him? Yeah, they did.
TK: Yeah, he said--he told me about it. It went right through? Right below the heart and came out the other side and he--the guy survived.
CWJ: Uh huh. So, to have this--if you've never had to kill someone? Or you've never had to almost kill someone? And most cops have almost killed somebody! They've pointed guns at people. I mean I can remember the first time I ever pointed a gun at someone and it was just like--WOW! I mean you realize how...
TK: It was scary?
CWJ: It was a big deal! I mean it was like--my gun was out before I knew what--and it was just like WOW!
TK: Your training kicked in?
CWJ: Yeah and so I just don't think we do a real good job sometimes explaining that?
TK: To the public?
CWJ: Yeah...I mean...
TK: What perplexes me the most is why the media and some people in the public value the life of a criminal more than the life of a police officer. That's what perplexes me.
CWJ: Yeah, well its almost like--but you've got some people that--it doesn't matter what the situation is--they're anti-police. So Dan Handleman is not going to--in any way--it doesn't matter what the situation is--the police could have done something better--except for shooting someone!
CWJ: Yeah. Yeah. But this is--this is the reality of this town! And its a small minority! I mean people in my neighborhood--I don't see them criticizing the police! But you've got--this is a very liberal town! And so there's people that just--there's nothing we can do--ever! And, I mean if--when I was in my shooting? If that was in 2005 instead of 1985? Then I would have--I mean I shot an Indian!--I shot an American--a Native American! It would have been a much bigger deal. At the time it was no big deal.
TK: So! Onto that! How did the 1989 death of the Native American man you were forced to shoot...in order to save the life of the woman who had a knife at her throat?
CWJ: It was 1985. and it was...it was, yeah he had uh...
TK: Oh right. How did that effect you on a personal and professional level?
CWJ: It is--its really interesting because that happened--we got the call--we actually have it on a (long pause) a CD. And because people were calling in and you can hear the gunshots and stuff like that, so its really interesting. But as its going down? We were--I was talking to the guy and trying to get him to--Frank Bearcub was his name and he was just out of the joint. I'd actually arrested him in 1979 but I didn't recognize him and I'm sure he didn't recognize me. And I didn't know until I heard his name. I go "shit, I arrested this guy once" on a stolen car. So, everything--its a really strange--its really strange. I'm talkin to him and he had fallen down and he had this guy at knife point and...
TK: Was it a woman or?
CWJ: It was a guy.
TK: Oh a guy. Oh okay.
CWJ: It was Adeem Hasheemi, I think his name was--he was from Pakistan. And so this guys terrified and I know that he's looking at me and going "Fuck! DO somethin!" And everything slows down. I'd say to people "have you ever been in a car accident and you see it happening? And you have time to reach over and grab your child?" And it seems like--in the space of seconds?
CWJ: I mean EVERYTHING slowed down. You can't hear! You get tunnel vision! And I literally had a conversation with myself. And I said "Damn! I think he's gonna kill this guy!" Because he had said "You've got 3 seconds or I'm gonna kill this guy!" And the knife goes up and I was going like "Damn! I gotta shoot this guy! If I don't shoot this guy--he's gonna slice this guy right in front of me! I mean this--I've gotta do it!" And I literally had this conversation and right as he brought the knife up? The hostage just kind of slid a little bit to the side? And so I had just a slight target. And so I um--popped him--I was focused on the knife. Well, the knife was right like this? (postures) and so one shot blew his ulna to bits--the next shot went right through his heart. So, I mean he was dead! And then my partner hit him down here with the shot gun (motions to his left thigh) but it was just like extra lead cause I'd popped him through the heart. And then all of a sudden its Shhhhhhhhhhhhhooooooopp and everything is real time again? And you're calling for cover and its weird cause--I have the pictures at home and things like that but I don't remember any blood or--Its just kinda really strange and the other officer that fired the shotgun started crying! I mean it was just REALLY emotional. I think that's what people don't understand is--its REALLY emotional! I mean you have all these feelings! And I was all paranoid for a LONG time after that. I went back to work--I was working with one of my best friends and the first call we had was a drunk Indian at a tavern down in old town and I go "Fuck! I gotta kill another one?!" you know with a knife?! (the suspect had a knife). And it was just like--that's what people don't understand is that its really--and you could ask Bellah or Westeman or whoever! But if you do it--if you've shot somebody--its a--its really--its a BIG deal!
CWJ: So, that's what people can't understand because they can't put themselves in that place!
TK: I remember when I interviewed Sgt Davis, he was talking about how the Portland Police Bureau doesn't really defend--or they don't really defend themselves or explain why things happen and so there's this whole dynamic of things like this happen? And then there's no explanation. And so people just automatically assume that the police are these bad people and they don't really think about the human reality.
CWJ: Well I tried--when I was a PIO, I would say (laughs)--they'd ask me things and I'd go "Well, I've done it! Here's what happened" And I'd always say--If there was an officer involved shooting, I'd go in there and say "Do you mind if I--why--WHY don't we release your names?" I didn't care when I was in my shooting! Release my name!--what's the difference? I tried to get stuff out as fast as I could because that's the story that people would run with! If we just do "the investigation is continuing" officers come in--and then the news media has to fill the blanks in. So, if you give them a very complete news release--I mean I found that a lot of times I'd be at home and I'd be listening to a story and basically all they did was RIP my news release and write a story! And if I can get YOU to write what I wrote? Than I win--as a public information officer and that's--that's a victory!
TK: Right. Okay.
CWJ: Because I'm writing down exactly what I want out and the producer gets it and they just...
TK: Tweak it a little?
CWJ: Just tweak it a little but pretty much its whatever I say. And so I think that we could do a better job. More information is often times the best thing to do. But remember that the police chief has never been in a shooting. The assistant chiefs may not have ever been in a shooting. When I was a Captain, me and Mike Garvey were the only captains and above who had ever been in shootings. I mean out of 40 some Commanding officers there was just two of us that had ever been in a shooting! So, you have people that are trying to make decisions and they can't sit there and go "Well when I was in my shooting, you know what? I actually did this, that and the other thing."
TK: So, they don't understand?
CWJ: They don't understand.
TK: Okay, alright. What happens to an officer, in your estimation, when they are forced to take a life in this way? As many officers I've interviewed have stated...do you also believe its "the last thing" an officer wants to do?
CWJ: Well, its hard to say. I wrote an article for the Oregonian several years ago--it was really well written (laughs). And I said one of the things that they ask you on your application is "could you use--could you use deadly force?" Well, so you write down YES! But again its like a solider...okay can you go to war and shoot someone? Yeah, I guess?! I mean--I don't know! I'm 21-years-old! Yeah! I GUESS?! And then when you get there? You're going like DAMN! I can remember standing there and going "God, I"m gonna--I gotta shoot this guy!" And I'd pointed guns at tons of people but when you finally get there and you realize--I mean I actually had more time than some people. I mean with some people the door opens up and there's a guy with a gun and you're just BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! You know I actually talked to this guy. It was a real interesting dynamic, so I...
TK: So, you made an effort to really resolve the situation without...
CWJ: Yeah, I was talking--I was "Drop the knife! Drop the knife!" "No! No! No!" And so I had a friend who was a pilot. Flew B52's in Vietnam and there's a--you know Lt Grossman? He wrote a book called On Killing?
TK: Oh yeah absolutely!
CWJ: Have you read that?
TK: Absolutely, that's one of the best books! Yeah!
CWJ: And there's an interesting dynamic. And I think that what he says is the most intimate is a sexual killing. But then you go to stabbing and then you go to shooting and then you have--like in my case--you're talking to the person you end up killing. And so I knew his name ultimately. I mean I had a history with this guy. It was a very interesting dynamic! And I was talking to my buddy and I says "What was it like dropping bombs?" and he goes "You don't have any connection to what's happening on the ground."
TK: Right. Right.
CWJ: Where when you're this far away from someone and you're talking to them and then you go BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! And so there's just a real different dynamic. And I'm sure its different if you're a sniper and you're never going to talk to the person and they're 100 meters away or whatever.
TK: That's true actually. I've interviewed a couple--well I've interviewed one serial killer and there are different levels of intimacy in killing and the hardest is the close up, probably with a knife or strangulation. And then of course there's the dynamic of those who kill because they enjoy it and those who kill because they're forced to. So...
TK: So, what have you learned about the human condition from all your years of service with PPB and as a result of all the things you've seen?
CWJ: Well, I'm not a--I'm not a religious guy? And I can remember talking to Sue Hill, who was a wonderful woman who was killed in flight 800? The 747 that blew up back in 1996, I think it was...remember?
CWJ: And she was very religious and we were driving along one day and it was after the Dodd case and I said "Sue! Explain how--how do you make sense of this? How little children get killed in your world?" and "explain how your God--how do you make that right?" And she's like "Oh well, God lets us do what we want to do?!"
CWJ: And I'm like yeah whatever! I says--I'm--I said "religion doesn't do anything for God but its all--we get 47 virgins if we blow people up! Or we get to go to Hea-vunnnn!!" And its just like, well you know what? I like what Stephan Hawking said! He says "we're just like computers and when we go we go! We're dead!" Its just...
TK: You don't believe in an eternal soul?! (smiles).
CWJ: Oh God, no!
TK: Are you--are you an atheist?! (laughs).
CWJ: I don't think I'm an atheist but I don't...I don't...
TK: I understand your cynicism, I really do! And your skepticism about religion because its--its a horrible thing. And this whole world proves it. I mean all the wars and the genocide and all in the name of religion. (laughs).
CWJ: Right, right--and so you're gonna convince me that God couldn't get us on one path? And if I'm God and I'm here 2000 years ago?--and of course, you've got the old testament with all this GOOFY shit about homosexuals and not eating this and not eating that and...
TK: Right--right. (laughs).
CWJ: And--and so--but we kind of ignore THAT because we like the new testament because we get to go to Heaven! (laughs). And its just--and there's all these different religions and things like that. And I'm just saying--you gotta think that God's a complete douchbag because he--he couldn't get us all organized. So, I mean--no--I don't--is there--NO! I think we just die.
TK: Okay. (laughs).
CWJ: You know? I mean its sad? But--I guess?! I mean because you don't know?! But I don't think we're gonna be on clouds or anything like that. And its like--there's somebody on FB--its Chaplain Misty King, I have no idea who she is...
TK: Oh yeah, right, me neither but yeah she's...(laughs).
CWJ: But she goes--the other day she goes "God, please--please watch over the people in the path of the hurricane" and I go "Dear God, why don't you make the hurricane disappear? DO something for a change!" (laughs). I mean really! why are we...
TK: Right, right. (laughs).
CWJ: I mean why are we praying for people after something bad happens?! We should of prayed for them before. (laughs).
CWJ: And its just--I've just seen so many crummy things that--that--but people for the most part do a pretty good job. We have 1,000 police officers for a city of a half a million people. And you know by and large? Things go along pretty good. There's just this--there's just this underbelly that people don't see because people get to go to sleep at night.
CWJ: And they don't know what's going on. They'll see a couple stories here and there on the news or something like that...but they don't...
TK: Or if they're downtown a lot they see it. I see it all every day because I'm always downtown.
CWJ: And as a society, we have just become more and more permissive of just shitty behavior on a low level kind of? Dirt-bags begging for money! Dirt-bags laying around on the sidewalk! You know! Just dirt-bags everywhere! That's what I like about Arizona! In my town, there's no dirt-bags!
TK: Yeah, I've lived--I've lived--well I grew up in NW and I've lived in SE and NE and I live in SW now, in the Portland Annex (West Slope) and its so close to town? But its like a different city. And one of the things I love about it is, there's no pan handlers--there's no hookers--there's no one on the street--there's no gutter punks. Its--its nice because its really close to town but its got this whole different feel to it.
CWJ: Yeah, its just--its a shame that our society just allows people--especially our children--that we just allow our children to be complete dirt-bags, And I just--I don't believe--its like all the bums and all these fucking transients. I've talked to transients--I've talked to bums and you know, bumicides and stuff like that and when they're honest with ya...
TK: What's a bumicide? (laughs).
CWJ: Oh, you know, just a bum killing--a bumicide.
TK: Okay, okay. (laughs).
CWJ: And you know, you talk to these guys and its like "Well, why don't you go to the shelter?"--"Because I can't drink! I can't smoke weed! I have to be in at a certain time. He says--these guys would say "I LIVE my lifestyle and I don't WANT people telling me what to do! That's why I DO what I do!" And so--but we've got all these bleeding hearts out here " Oh these poor people! They're homeless! Oh God!" They WANT to be homeless!! They're camping! That's what I said on American Detective! I said--we were jogging and I go "these bums--they're just Urban Campers." And we're running past them and I go "and you know the interesting thing is, one of these guys might be a victim tonight and one of these guys might be a suspect tonight!" But we're just so apologetic for people's shitty behavior--that somehow its societies fault! Its not societies fault, its THEIR fault!
TK: I know that I've had many ups and downs in my life but I've never been homeless because I always made sure I did what I needed to, to have a roof over my head. But yeah, I think that a lot of people do it as a lifestyle choice.
CWJ: Well, but do you see these people that are out living on the street?--are they not well hydrated? Are they not well fed? Do--do you know what I never investigated in seven years in homicide? A STARVATION!!
TK: Uh-huh. (laughs).
TK: Right. (laughs).
CWJ: I never had somebody frozen to death!
TK: Not here--not in this town. (laughs).
CWJ: No. No. No one's starving! No one's dying of malnutrition or no water or dehydration! I mean we're feeding these people! Its like--its like fucking Raccoons! You give em cat food and what are you gonna have the next night? More Raccoons! And that's what we do. We feed these dirt-bags and so we just get more and more and more! And that's the good thing about Arizona, its so hot you can't have these dirt-bags out there!
TK: Okay. (laughs). What advice would you give to young recruits who want to embark on a career in law enforcement?
CWJ: (clicks tongue). Go to a different city! Go to WA county--clackamas.
TK: Yeah, that makes sense. (laughs).
CWJ: I mean its a wonderful--its a wonderful career! Its a wonderful career! I think there are cities that are more supportive of their police departments than Portland. I'm glad that I worked the street when I worked the street. But the thing is--if you're 22-years-old or 23 or 25 and you're a new police officer? You know what? You're having a great time! Because you don't have anything to--I had one officer--well, because I liked to mix it up! I liked to get in fights! You know, I was a big kid and that's how officers--the older officers LIKED you if you'd get in there and you'd kick some ass! And some of these...
TK: Because they knew they could rely on you and you'd be able to cover them.
CWJ: Yeah! And so this one officer goes "Man you should have been around ten years ago to see what we could--when we could really kick some ass!" and I go "If I kicked MORE ass? I'd be killing people every day!" I mean Jesus! I go "what MORE do you want me to DO? I'm choking 15 people out a night!" So, I mean its all--its like I'm sure somebody in the military would say "Oh God 30 years ago it was great and now its this." But you know what? If you're a brand new police officer--you're having a blast! You're having a great time!
TK: Okay. Do you regret choosing law enforcement as a career?
CWJ: Uh-uh! No! I mean, I'd do it all over again. I'd do it all--but again--I have (pause) cop dreams? I don't have cop dreams about doing news releases. I don't have cop dreams about doing a report. I have cop dreams about being on the street. That's what I have dreams about. You know? Being 26-years-old again--23-years-old again. Working the street--being out there. Just--you know--how much fun it was.
TK: Uh huh?
CWJ: And um, now? God I don't know if I could do it now, I'm so old. But it was just--it was fun. You're not afraid of anything. You can do anything...and we really could do anything. (laughs).
TK: Okay. Do you believe that many people, without the background or credentials needed to work in law enforcement often presume, incorrectly, that its a straightforward profession and not a complex calling with very specific and exacting requirements? These are the people that are like--there's an officer involved shooting or somebody gets beaten up and maybe its put on film or an officer gets accused of brutality because he has to be hands on with some guy whose resisting and they're always saying "well, why couldn't he do this? Or "why didn't he do this differently? And they're not trained in law enforcement but they think they know better. You know what I mean?
CWJ: Well, I mean its like Doctors screw things up. Pilots screws things up. Everybody screws things up! People get Ecoli because somethings cooked wrong. There's--there's--nobody is perfect! And it just seems like with police work...everybody's a fucking expert.
TK: Right. When they're not.
CWJ: Right! Everybody--its like, people bitching about football teams or athletes and stuff like that. Or this athlete shoulda done this or this team shouldn't do this. Yeah, we're all experts on the NFL right? Because we watch it. And we're all experts on law enforcement because there's 8 zillion different shows and movies and all this kinda stuff. So, a little knowledge is dangerous and that's what everybody has is a little knowledge. I mean, I look at sfuff and I go--I mean I have the experience and I go "when this all shakes out--this is what its gonna be" and it generally is!
CWJ: But people go right to the--police shouldn't have done this--and a lot of times--like that Chasse thing. What they should have done is they should have gone to trial and they should have presented all that kinda stuff instead of just rolling over and giving the people 2 million dollars or whatever they got! You know? Maybe that would help. Sure, you might end up spending more money but at least you'd get it out there! Because what everybody comes away with is just 'well the cops did something wrong!' Where if you have a trial and you present the things...like you say, this guy was abandoned by his family, he was malnourished, his bones are all fucked up. He's got all these problems and if he had been in Dammasch--we don't have a medical facility like we used to have back in the 70's, where you could take people. So, we've dumped our children, we've dumped our mentals, we've dumped the people that have the most problems in society and we've just DUMPED em out into the streets!
CWJ: And then we complain because bad things happen to them. And if we really cared, then we'd have facilities where you'd put people.
TK: Right and it seems like Portland has become quite well known for the police department being the ones who have to deal with these mentally ill people, instead of having these people taken care of in a facility where they can actually benefit and...
CWJ: And we've always had to deal with mentals. I mean thats--that's part of the job. Its like domestic disturbances. You know crazy people--you're going to run into crazy people! But it just seems anymore? There's just a lot more out there!
TK: There are! Especially downtown. I don't remember it ever being this bad in the 70's--early 70's, middle and late 70's. It started to get really bad in the 80's it seems to me.
CWJ: Yeah! Because we shut down Dammasch.
TK: Yeah and its just...
CWJ: And I'm sure that the people got sexually abused and there were some problems in there because nothings perfect but its a lot better than...
TK: Being on the street...
CWJ: Being on the street...
TK: What do you recollect as being the most fulfilling memory you have of how you helped a regular person in the city of Portland, during your long career with PPB? Just something that happened, that you can remember?
CWJ: (long pause). Well, I think--and again it wasn't really like a call or anything like that. But when I volunteered in that reading program. And Dontrelle--I read to--I had two kids and you'd read to them for a half an hour and so I had Dontrelle who is--his mother had him when she was seventeen. I love her to death!
TK: What was that?
CWJ: She had him when she was seventeen. I'd read to him and I said "Does your Mom read?" and he goes "no." And I go "well, does she ever read anything?" and he goes "the phone book?" (laughs). So he--and he struggled so much but he liked--he thought it was neat that--that I was a policeman. (smiles). And then I got transferred and I couldn't read the next year and so I went back the next year after that--he was at Sunnyside and so I started reading to two other kids. And so I got called into the principals office (laughs) and so I go down there and the principal goes "You know, Dontrelle has had all these issues and things like that. Behavioral issues and--do you think that you could just read to him?"
TK: Alone, just like exclusively to him?
CWJ: Yeah. And so I said "how about this? I said "why don't I just spend time with him?" And so I would go once a week--and I went to meet his Mom and she says "I don't like the--I don't like the police." and I go "well..." but she says "but he talks about you all the time!" So, I said "well, I'd just like to take him--I took him to a Lars Larson show one time. We'd do things together--we'd go to lunch. And like I say, all these years later? He's going to be 23 next month and you know? He's...my boy! And so of all the things that I did in my career? Probably that's the most important thing that I did.
CWJ: Is to actually make a--to be able--to truly say that I made a difference in somebodies life! Of all the other stuff, you know just doing calls and things like that. I remember one time--I think the littlest things sometimes are the most important things? I was working SW and I had just some bullshit call and I think I was in afternoons. It was after my shooting, before I got promoted. And it was a little old lady--I'm sure she's gone now. Probably late 80's or something like that and she had some minor issue but as I talked to her I could tell she was just lonely! And I must have sat there with her for an hour and a half? Just talking. They were calling me and I says "No, I'm still tied up." and just, you know, just talked to her. Just little things like that. And...she had a good day! I never saw her again or anything like that but a mile away I'd killed somebody but--but I was able to spend some time with her. And uh--because there's so many--and again theres just--we have--those are the sad things. Its the kids that are dumped on the street! The mentals that are dumped on the street! Old people that don't have anybody! Things like that happen all the time and because they're minor? You'll never hear about them. But police officers are doing that EVERY SINGLE DAY! They make differences in people's lives. And probably half the time the officer doesn't even realize how important THAT was! I can remember--I was reading this the other day--because they did a story on me when I was a PIO. Tom Holman wrote it and I had said I remember being 22-years-old at a family beef. I'd been on like a month! And this man who was probably my age now, in his mid 50's and he's asking ME how to solve this marriage problem he's got! And I'm going like "I don't even have a girlfriend for Christ Sakes! I'm 22-years-old". You're as old as my DAD! I mean, don't ask ME! But its that uniform...its the uniform that people trust and that people can depend on. And you always know if you're in a jam, you call the cops and they come and they fix it! And there's thousands and thousands of fix its every year! And very now and then theres something bad that happens! And what do people think about? They think about the bad thing that happens. Not the TENS of thousands of interactions--hundreds of thousands of interactions that take place every year that are positive and good. But again I think that we as an organization do a poor job sometimes of getting our message out.
TK: Uh huh, yeah. Okay. What do you miss most about working as a Portland police officer? The youth of your young life or the camaraderie and sense of belonging and purpose...or both?
CWJ: Yeah--I liked--like I say, I don't think anybody thinks back and goes "God, the best part of my career was being a captain and doing staff work and budgets and bullshit like that! What's fun is--I loved when I was a shift Commander rolling around with my Sgts. And its just a fun, fun job! But what's not fun--and I'm sure Scott probably told you and Jim probably told you and everybody...there's--a lot of times the people that run things aren't the best people to run things. You don't have to be anything special to get promoted. Its a--its a GOOFY system! And there's--if you don't like somebody when you're 22-years-old? You ain't gonna like them 20 years later! And if you're in a position now to--you're a Lieutenant now or you're a Captain and you don't like that officer? Well, you'll fuck with them! And that happens ALL the time! And that's the sad--that's one of the sad things. People go "Oh the thin blue line" and "all these cops and everything." Fuck! People are stabbing each other in the back ALL the time! Its SAD! But it happens ALL the time and its not just here, its everywhere! I mean you'd have these--some people don't like other people!
TK: Its true. I've gotten some messages from other retired police officers--nobody that I've interviewed or talked to that say "Oh, you're interviewing cops, that's interesting" or they've read an interview or two and I've gotten these messages from these old guys in their 60's and stuff? And saying really shitty things about so and so! A guy I interviewed! Or a couple of guys I interviewed! "He's full of shit!" And I'm like "wait a second, I really liked him!" And that's happened probably three times? And I was really surprised by the pettiness and the sense of competitiveness.
CWJ: Oh yeah! (laughs). I know! I mean--one of my--I had a Sgt that I worked for and then ultimately he worked for me and he was a great, great, great, great guy! Everybody loved him. And he'd always say--he'd goes "tell me a so and so story?" He says "I can tell you lots of CW Jensen stories but tell me a story about this guy." I go "I can't!" and he goes "Exactly! Because he never DID anything!" And so like they say, if you're gonna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs. And so its the guys that--I mean like...Mike Reese? Nice guy! But I don't think he ever DID anything! But that way you get promoted because you don't--you don't DO anything! You know?
TK: It seems like the most productive officers are the officers who sometimes things happen, like Captain Wyatt, who was just uh...
CWJ: Todd's a great kid!
CWJ: I was interviewed in 2005 over his...and I just said "you know what?"...
TK: The thing in Willamette Week right?
TK: And I actually wrote a letter to the editor about that and I said he should be "recognized for his years of service and commendations as opposed to a few complaints" because he was a very productive officer. But it seems like productive officers are also more likely to be hands on and sometimes bad things happen and so they get vilified more than the officers who aren't as productive.
CWJ: I put in for Narcotics in 1984 I think because I went to street crimes soon after that. And the Captain sits down when I'm gonna do my interview and he goes--back then--I mean this is how old it was--you had a file--your internal affairs file and it was on just cards and so there'd be dates and things and he goes Pussht! Pussht! Pussht! Pussht! There's like four cards with 20 complaints. And I go "Well, none of em are sustained!" And uh, it was just like--I was talking to--they had a parade in St. Johns and that was my district and I was working days. And I drove the Captain in the St. John's parade and he didn't really know me from Adam. And I was talking to him and I thought "Fuck, I'm gonna be with the guy for an hour, I'm just gonna bullshit with him." And I was telling him "Yeah, I'd like to go to street crimes or narcotics" or this, that and the other thing. And I go "cause I've just got too many complaints" and he goes "You know what--I know you're active--you're out there--busy, busy, busy but just try--consciously try to do everything you can not to get a complaint." And there were times--I had a guy kicking out a window of my car one time and I called a couple other officers down and I said "Will you please do something with him?" and they're looking at me like what's wrong? And I go "I CAN"T get any more COMPLAINTS!" (laughs).
TK: That was actually part of this WW article and I think--oh yeah, it was another letter I wrote about Richard Rosenthal who was the director of--it was five or six years ago...
TK: And he was trying to create another type of rule for Tort Complaints and I sent in a letter to WW and said that this would just "tie police officers hands" even more and result in more "disengaged officers." That seems like a really common problem here in Portland. The situation where Portland police officers are under so much scrutiny--they're so afraid of what's going to happen if they do their job that they become disengaged in the whole process. Do you think that's true?
CWJ: Oh I mean I've talked to--I"ve talked to guys and I mean yeah! You lose--you lose a lot of self initiated activity because they just go "You know what? I don't need to stop that car. I can drive around, I can take my calls. And then I don't have to worry about anything." So that's--that's the problem and that's--that's what people face. Because I had to do that myself just to get--you know--and Davis--I talked to him when I was in Internal Affairs...Knuckles?
TK: Jim Davis?
CWJ: No, Todd?
CWJ: He was a police officer. And I told him, I said "you've got like 16 complaints"
TK: Oh! I think I've heard of him! (laughs).
CWJ: Yeah. And I said "I had like 28." And I says "You've gotta just kick back" I said "otherwise you're never gonna get promoted" And he's gotten promoted! And I said "everybody knows how many complaints I had." I mean I had a reputation. But you have to, you--you've just gotta relax."
TK: I know who you're talking about! This Davis guy. Because I was posting on FB about interviewing Sgt Davis and then some other guy thought it was the guy you're referring to and I was like "NO!" Chris Davis at Central precinct. So yeah, I know who you're referring to. This other person had posted and thought I was talking about "Knuckles Davis" having been promoted to Lieutenant and he was laughing about that and I had to clarify that I'd been referring to Sgt Chris Davis as having been promoted to Lieutenant and not the other man. (laughs). Anyway, can I have one more picture?...big smile?
TK: Thank you! Do you think we could get a picture together? Would that be okay?
CWJ: Lets go ask someone at the front desk.
TK: Anyway, thank you so much for giving me this interview and everything.
CWJ: No sweat.
Interview transcribed by Theresa Griffin-Kennedy
ABSOLUTELY NO PORTION OF THIS PUBLISHED INTERVIEW MAY BE REPRODUCED OR DISSEMINATED WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION FROM THE INTERVIEWER, THERESA GRIFFIN KENNEDY, UNDER PENALTY OF COPYRIGHT LAWS!!