YOU CAN SAY a lot of things about Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association.
He doesn't much trust the media. He's more than willing to lob rhetorical bombs at city hall—like when he accused former Mayor Sam Adams and former Police Chief Mike Reese of conspiring to fire the cop who shot and killed Aaron Campbell in 2010—if he thinks it's worth the collateral damage.
And, sure, he'll also back down from certain discipline fights. He got "credit" from Mayor Charlie Hales, it turns out, for not challenging the firing of the cop who nearly killed William Kyle Monroe in 2011 after mistakenly loading live rounds into a beanbag shotgun.
But Turner's also aired his beefs with civilian oversight and what's become a sustained clamor for changing how cops here and everywhere treat minority communities.
After a hearing last year on the city's police reform deal with the US Department of Justice, Turner asked why he and other cops "expose ourselves to the scrutiny of those who have never walked in our shoes?"
And then, after a disturbed man murdered two New York cops in their patrol car last month, the Tribune broke the news that Turner had blamed media, politicians, and protesters for creating a "culture of hatred" toward cops and for fueling the killer's anger "with unfounded accusations characterizing all police as brutal thugs."
But here's something you can't say about Turner: that he hid from all the outrage when protesters almost immediately called him out over those remarks.
(Although maybe it's because the protesters gave him no choice.)
The night his statement went public, Turner got a call from Teressa Raiford, one of the leading voices behind Don't Shoot Portland. It was 1 am. Turner was in bed. He picked up and they talked. The next day, when protesters descended on the PPA's headquarters, he invited them in for a long talk around the office's conference table.
And then, on Saturday, January 10, Turner was on a panel with Raiford and Mayor Charlie Hales, opening the first of Don't Shoot Portland's six monthly forums with the mayor.
"The police union is not the enemy," Turner said gamely when giving his opening remarks. "We need to be part of the conversation that educates the community."
Turner admitted that even he "struggles," as an African American man, with the feeling he's sometimes being profiled in stores like Fred Meyer. He said he hoped people felt okay calling him with concerns, suggesting he could be a mediator anytime someone had issues with one cop or another.
But he defended his officers by arguing not that they need to change what they do—like when they stop and search people who often feel targeted because of their skin color—just that they need to do a better job explaining why.
He also told the crowd that if they learned more about cops' training, "maybe you'll get a better understanding" of why cops react the way they do.
It wasn't what everyone wanted to hear. But I guess it was a start.