Public Unions

Portland's Police Union and Outgoing Mayor Negotiate For Less Transparency For Body Cameras

Current police contract expires six months into next mayor's term, but is being renegotiated now.

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Portlandia, less Transparent.
Jeff Muceus/Flickr

When Portland (Ore.) Mayor Charlie Hales leaves office on Jan 1, 2017, there will be six months remaining on the current contract with the city's police union, the Portland Police Association (PPA). But the lame-duck Hales has been negotiating for months with the PPA on a new contract, which Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler will be bound to honor, even though his office will have had no say in the negotiations.

According to Check the Police—the Black Lives Matter-affiliated database which tracks police union contracts—the Portland Police Bureau already enjoys one of the U.S.'s more officer-friendly contracts. Portland officers can delay interrogations into their conduct for up to 48 hours following an incident, they can review video footage of incidents before giving interviews or submitting reports, misconduct records can have pertinent details omitted, and disciplinary actions taken against the officers by the department can be overturned by binding arbitration.

The biggest issue with the newly proposed police union contract, which Hales is pushing the City Council to swiftly ratify, are new policies regarding police body cameras. As reported by the Portland Mercury:

Under the policy, gang cops, transit cops, patrol officers, and others are all specifically required to wear body cameras. Left out? Cops working on the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT), Portland's version of SWAT.

That's a problem for oversight advocates. Portland Copwatch's Dan Handelman says the omission makes no sense, since such officers are "most likely as a unit to use implements of deadly force." The ACLU of Oregon has argued the same thing.

Hales, when asked about this omission on Monday, said he wasn't aware of it. But PPA President Daryl Turner argues the rule makes sense, since the city doesn't want to give up SERT's tactical secrets.

"They are highly trained individuals," Turner said. "We wouldn't want those things to be on camera."

There are also issues about what happens when an officer fails to turn his/her body camera on. The proposed contract grants officers the right to not record if they determine they are facing an "immediate threat" and don't have the time to press "record." And while Portland cops will be allowed to review their own body camera footage before writing up their report, oversight of such footage will be limited. Also according to the Mercury, "The policy contains provisions that say supervisors and professional standards officers can't look at video for a performance review or to discover policy violations, and that they may not 'randomly' review recordings of any officer."

In a searing op-ed published by Oregon Live, the president of Portland's NAACP chapter, Jo Ann Hardesty, also complained that "This contract is a big money giveaway without any public benefit." Hardesty adds:

The contract allows retired officers to be hired back for six years at the top of their pay grade — classic double-dipping at the expense of the taxpayer.

The contract ensures that the most expensive police officers are assigned to overtime first, rather than a mid-level employee or an officer who may be needed based on the situation. Both the taxpayer and the community suffer. ?

Contract stipulations that benefit older and more tenured employees—regardless of whether or not they are the most able or qualified—is pretty much standard operating procedure for any union, but especially so when it comes to public sector unions. That the PPA would want to strengthen the benefits afforded to its most senior members, as well as limit the transparency and accountability demanded of all its members, shouldn't come as a surprise.

The City Council has not set a date to vote on the proposed contract, but last week, approximately two dozen protesters occupied a portion of City Hall after disrupting a City Council meeting where the police union contract was scheduled to be discussed, forcing the building into a lockdown. Two were arrested.

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  1. Portland (Ore.) Mayor Charlie Hales went on to say, “I really enjoy looking down my nose at people like you. I really do. I dislike snobs and posers because in many ways I am the ultimate snob and consider few people worthy of the privilege.”

    1. Man, that sounds so familiar.

  2. Hales, when asked about this omission on Monday, said he wasn’t aware of it. But PPA President Daryl Turner argues the rule makes sense, since the city doesn’t want to give up SERT’s tactical secrets.

    “They are highly trained individuals,” Turner said. “We wouldn’t want those things to be on camera.”

    Oh go fuck yourself.

    Tactical “secrets” my dick.

    1. Get a load of Snowden Jr. here, wanting to give the drug using and jaywalking terrorists all our secrets.

    2. “Tactical secrets”, like they’re doing something differently from how other departments or the military does. Like there’s some fucking criminal masterminds out there astutely studying police body cam footage so they can achieve tactical superiority over the police. Our military trains its soldiers even more highly and low-IQ goat fuckers who live in caves manage to kill them with IEDs and hit-and-run ambushes, which are among the simplest tactics available to guerrillas.

      Anyone who believes that shit uncritically has been watching way too much television and it really has rotted their brains.

      1. If there ever were a real, shootin’ war revolution and the cops thought their MRAP was going to come in handy, they’re going to discover real fast the MRAP is the last fucking place you want to be when you’re surrounded by hostile actors wielding molotov cocktails.

        1. Or how about someone with a Fifty…. sure, it might not penetrate the shell of that rig, but the NOISE inside would drive the clowns in their clown car nutzer than they already are.

  3. Puts on Church Lady glasses.

    “Well isn’t that convenient”

    /Removess glasses, hand them over to Swiss.

      1. There aren’t any female libertarians around. Reach around all you want, you’re just going to get a handful of Johnson. You’re just making it awkward for both off us.

        1. That explains why your pussy has so much grip.

    1. [intercepts glasses, puts a bird on them]

  4. LEFTOID COP-HATING PORTLANDIA SMDH

    1. It’s full of white lefties, so, cops are ok.

    2. “Wharf on Crops! Stop the importation of Japanese melons!”

      nods eagerly “I’m helping!”

  5. Check the Police?the Black Lives Matter-affiliated database which tracks police union contracts

    Wasn’t that already being done by an All Lives Matter group?

    1. Possibly, but that one was racist.

  6. Portland coppers are about as nasty as they come. About as bad as the Berkeley and San Francisco Blues from back in the People’s Park day…. got a chip on their shoulder when they wake up and don their government issued costume, and it grows throughout their shift. I’ve had officer initiated contact maybe four times in the past three decades. Two of those were PPB pukes. Both were delibarately pushing my buttons, or trying to, in order to make me “go off” on them so they could justify piling on me… the early one had six steroid-enhanced nasty boys, all with the hair trigger set. I overheard their conversation as they stood in the middle of the street, thinking my window was up and I could not hear them. Wrote me a manufactured ticket, I showed up in court, they did not. Judge (rightly) dismissed it, no explanation except Officer Awful pulled a No Show. Other time was almost as bad….. three this time. I was riding my bike and had an appointment I did NOT want to miss… happened to be carrying my Personal Protection Device so worked real hard to deescalate their rants. I knew if they discovered my handgun or asked me about it things would get UUUUGGLLLLEEEE right now… Mother May I Card and all, they’d still make a hans of my afternoon. Pigs is to kind for such. They ought not be slopping at the public trough.

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