EARLY MARCH was kind to Portland Police Officer Kevin Macho.
In the wee hours of March 5, a four-month-old boy was reported missing from an East Portland apartment. Police went into overdrive and at least one TV station worked itself into a froth, sending word across the city for Portlanders to keep an eye out.
But the panic was short-lived. About five hours after the infant went missing, Macho was cradling it in his arms on a NE 139th lawn.
"Under these uniforms, we are husbands, mothers, fathers," he told a KGW reporter. "It's a good day."
It's the sort of heartwarming public heroism that might send an officer up the chain of command. But for Macho (pronounced Mock-oh), it hasn't. Now, the East Precinct officer has warned he might sue for discrimination, claiming the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has consistently promoted "lesser-qualified females and others" over him.
"PPB has repeatedly failed to promote Officer Macho above the rank of officer and has failed to promote Officer Macho from the 2012-2013 Promotional List," reads a tort claim notice filed with the city on June 28. "As a result of this discrimination, Officer Macho has suffered economic and non-economic damages."
Macho, who's been a Portland cop for almost six years, did not appear to have filed a suit by press time (the tort claim notice is merely a required procedural document indicating he might sue) and his attorney, Kevin Keaney, ignored repeated calls for comment.
The entitled air of Macho's notice, though, may seem a bit brash for those familiar with the officer's one other large bit of media exposure: A 2010 lawsuit that alleged he'd roughly handled a transgender motorist during a traffic stop, "groping" her breasts and genitalia. The woman sued for $200,000 but eventually settled the case out of court for $2,500.
The "promotional list" Macho's tort claim cites is a roster the bureau assembles of cops fit for promotion. It's based on written tests, interviews, and, occasionally, skills tests, said bureau spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson.
But the Mercury's attempts to sort through the facts behind Macho's claims had been largely stymied as of deadline. Requests for a list of police bureau promotions in the last year, the 2012-2013 promotional list, and the police department's policies around diversity and promotions had gone unfulfilled as of Tuesday, August 6.
Simpson also declined to discuss the specifics of Macho's claim, citing bureau policy.
According to the police bureau website, the 2012-2013 salary for an officer who, like Macho, has worked at the city for five years or more is $76,398. Entry-level pay for an officer promoted to detective, sergeant, or criminalist is $77,730, with a maximum salary of $87,859.
Macho has been eligible for promotion for about a year and a half. The police bureau requires 4.5 years of service before bumping officers up the ladder.
A lawsuit could launch fresh debates about diversity in the bureau—a matter that's received a good deal of city leaders' attention in the past. In 2011, the bureau received the city's "Diversity Champion Award" after hiring seven racial minorities in a crop of 33 recruits. The previous two years, the bureau had only one black officer—and no Latino recruits—amid its 67 hires.