One reason I am terrified to have children is that I'm pretty sure I'd make a terrible parent. And since my own childhood was spent successfully wheedling candy and pork pies out of a mother who felt guilty for spending too much time at work, I'm aware that children who are granted special treatment in exchange for being spoiled brats tend to behave like spoiled brats more often—not less. They also get fat.
Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman is acting like a bad parent to the Portland Police Association (PPA). Perhaps he felt bad about the Chasse inquiry taking three years, and only imposing two weeks of suspension on Officer Christopher Humphreys as a result. Fellow "parent" Commissioner Randy Leonard was pressuring him to impose discipline differently—judgment of other parenting styles comes with the territory—and so two weeks ago Saltzman suspended Humphreys indefinitely for a separate incident—shooting a 12-year-old girl in the leg with a beanbag shotgun.
As a toddler, when I reached up for the hot kettle, my mother shouted "no," and maybe gave me a smack. Smacking children is no longer kosher, but I quickly learned not to do it again. Perhaps if Saltzman had properly smacked Officer Humphreys after the Chasse incident, the little brat would have learned not to misbehave. Instead Saltzman gave him the disciplinary equivalent of a pork pie—two weeks off. No wonder Humphreys felt emboldened.
Here's the thing, parents: Never back down. Once you've said "no," you have to mean "no." So even if Saltzman did overreach by suspending Humphreys for the beanbag incident, he should've stood his ground. And besides, Humphreys had it coming—although you won't find those words in many appropriate parenting books. Then again, not many toddlers are witnessed beating their fellow citizens to death and denying them medical treatment.
By reinstating Humphreys on desk duty this week, Saltzman has given in to the PPA's tantrum, and given PPA boss Scott Westerman a big pile of treats in exchange for throwing a hissy fit.
If Saltzman is to become a better parent, he now needs to renegotiate the city's disciplinary contract with the PPA in 2010. We need the power to appropriately discipline officers like Humphreys before they're able to terrorize our city and then claim "stress disability" for a situation they caused.