Police Union boss Scott Westerman has encouraged fellow officers to speak out in support of Officers Christopher Humphreys and Jason Sery in this month's edition of the Portland Police Association newspaper, The Rap Sheet. Perhaps surprisingly, Westerman appears to be implying that the union's job is to speak up for controversial officers, even if they're guilty of the behavior that has gotten them into trouble.
There will be times when one of our members is alleged to have done something which reflects badly on the rest of us, and gets "in the grease." In almost every one of these situations, the information we spread amongst ourselves in locker rooms, roll calls, coffee breaks, and the like, is drastically inaccurate and nearly always destructive. The union has a duty and responsibility to advocate for that member to make sure the member is treated fairly and equitably by the administration—even when the member has in fact done what was alleged.
As we all know, there are those who will get disciplined for an act another would be praised for. If you are one of the ones who would be praised, you may not see a need for a union outside of contract negotiations. But what happens when the tables turn? What if you fall out of favor and you become one of the ones disciplined? An injustice against one of us, is an injustice against all of us. We need to support each other in positive ways as we are all in this together.
To make this point more clear, look at Officers Jason Sery and Chris Humphreys. Both of these officers had earned the respect of everyone they worked around, both citizens and fellow officers alike. They exemplified everything a police officer should be. They were dedicated, professional police officers doing the job when something tragic happened. Both of these officers were involved in different situations and, after being reviewed objectively, were found to have done everything right. Grand juries, and every subsequent level of oversight cleared them both. Yet both officers have been crucified by some of the media, by some members of the public, and worst of all, publicly ignored and discarded by the administration. The sad reality of police work in Portland is that every single one of us is just a radio call away from being mistreated the same way.
This is why we should remember that we are in this together. If you see these officers, give them your support. More importantly, when you engage the citizens of Portland in discussions about police work, take a moment to express your support for them too.
Have at it.