CITY OFFICIALS and Portland's rank-and-file police union were recently on the threshold of a deal that could have changed up Portland's controversial 48-hour rule, but it might be scrapped in the name of budget cuts.
Portland Human Resources Director Anna Kanwit tells the Mercury she'd been talking with the Portland Police Association (PPA) since January on a number of "urgent" issues. Those included: outstanding grievances filed by the union around police scheduling and assignments, a body camera policy the city wants to enact, and a provision that would allow the understaffed police bureau to bring back recent retirees on a short-term basis.
They also included possibly eliminating the so-called 48-hour rule, which gives Portland cops at least two days after an officer-involved shooting before speaking with internal affairs investigators.
The talks were positive enough that the city and union took a rare step, Kanwit says, formally opening up the existing collective bargaining contract to make potential changes.
PPA President Daryl Turner, asked last week about all this, refused to characterize the contract as "open," but did confirm there were talks about changing the document.
The problem? Those talks were contingent on some big money: $3 million Mayor Charlie Hales had proposed for increasing police pay. And amid the recent tussle over Hales' budget proposal [Hall Monitor, News, pg. 6], it looks like the money will fall by the wayside.
Kanwit says she's not sure exactly what that means, just yet, but it's possible the current talks will end, and any changes will have to wait for bargaining sessions scheduled for next year.
"If there isn't funding for the full package that we've been looking at, those would all get postponed until January," she says. DIRK VANDERHART
A Portland man will get another shot at his complaint against a police officer who he says unfairly used a Taser on him in 2014, because cops weren't clear on their own rules.
Matthew Klug failed in his first effort, after the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) exonerated the unnamed officer with a "debriefing" (essentially a formal talking-to). On May 4, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC)—a volunteer offshoot of the auditor's Independent Police Review (IPR)—sided with the bureau, much to the chagrin of Klug. He kept arguing that both the CRC and PPB were using outdated Taser policy to clear the officer. He had the copy of the relevant rules with him, but neither the PPB nor CRC would take a look.
"I can say for sure they were using the wrong directive," Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch told the Mercury after that meeting.
Klug and Handelman were right. It turns out the PPB, and therefore the CRC, had used police policy that expired at the end of 2013 to clear the officer. At the time of the incident, in September 2014, stricter Taser rules were in place. IPR Assistant Director Anika Bent-Albert emailed Klug a few days after the May 4 meeting and told him that they "have been informed by the Portland Police Bureau that the incorrect directive was used," and he'll get another shot in front of the CRC.
"For findings to be valid," IPR Director Constantin Severe said, "it has to be based on the correct directive applicable at the time." DOUG BROWN
PORTLAND'S NEW fire chief has hotter passions than merely saving lives.
Mike Myers, a former firefighter and fire chief in Las Vegas and suburban St. Louis, has been hired to run the 700-person Portland Fire and Rescue bureau beginning June 30, Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office announced Monday.
Myers, at just 49, has already retired once from firefighting, and brings a reputation for strong management to the job.
Not mentioned in Saltzman's announcement was "The Kissing Tour," a blog Myers and his wife Tara began after getting married in 2012, in a ceremony officiated by "a very special female Buddhist monk they met on Facebook."
Soon after, they set out on a mission to "live big and kiss often," traveling the world and snapping photos of themselves kissing passionately.
From the couple: "It started on Capitol Hill. Couples posed rigidly. Tara and Mike kissed passionately. At the White House. The Washington Monument. The Smithsonian. People clapped. Giggled. Snapped away. Even a seven-year-old."
Eventually, the couple wrote a book: Pink Chair No Underwear: Our Big Bold Love Story.
Myers' interest in the project seems to have cooled recently—associated Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts have all been deleted.
"We're a little bit different than your normal fire chief and fire couple," Myers tells the Oregonian.
He will make $180,000 a year. DVH
THERE'S BEEN an overall two percent decrease in crime in the first four months of 2016 compared with the same timeframe over the past five years, according to a new report from the Portland Police Bureau.
The best news to come out of the data is there were just two murders in the city through the end of April, compared to an average of eight. That probably says something about the accuracy of suspected gang shooters. There have been 65 shootings police attribute to gangs so far this year—a record high—compared to 48 at this point last year (which was also a record).
Police arrested two suspected gang members for the February 25 shooting death of Isaiah Demetrius Kent in February. Nobody's been arrested yet for the February 28 shooting death of Gary Baechler.
The first four months of 2016 also saw a decrease in documented sex crimes, simple and aggravated assaults, arsons, residential burglaries, shoplifting, fraud and identity theft, and prostitution busts compared to the last five years. Drug crimes are down significantly, with 618 arrests through April, compared to an average of 1,114.
At the same time, police reported more burglaries at businesses, more bike thefts, more thefts from and of cars, more vandalism, and more weapons offenses. DB