Portland cops get another year to abuse people
Amidst all of the events of the past month, and especially the past week, I was shocked to read today that the Portland City Council just approved a one-year extension of the city's contract with the police union. The vote was unanimous.
This is the contract that virtually guarantees that an officer who wrongfully brutalizes, or even kills, an unarmed person will get off with no meaningful discipline. Apparently, we don't want to rush into anything:
"This extension does not mean everybody stops work for a year,‘' said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has led the call on the council to make significant changes to the police contract. “What it means is we will have the time to do it right and do it thoughtfully.‘'The mayor and other commissioners agreed. Wheeler said he expects the extension “will turn out to be the right move to make,‘' citing similar, slower approaches on other issues that resulted in city approval of a climate resolution and housing bond.“It’s worth taking the time and doing things carefully and doing it with community participation,‘' Commissioner Amanda Fritz said.
They make it sound like they're planning a kindergarten picnic.
People are wising up to the fact that police union contracts perpetuate the system in which police misconduct is not punished or corrected. Just this afternoon I saw a good segment on cable in which this law professor from Chicago put his finger squarely on the problem: The cities let themselves get rolled in negotiations with the cops.
The Portland politicians, who have always been particularly bad bargainers, have now put off their trip to the woodshed for another entire year. The tone deafness is appalling.
Meanwhile, the head of the Portland police union is huffing and puffing and whining this evening about the criticism the cops received yesterday for their shabby performance outside their precious union office. Right there, you see the attitude. The attitude that now is protected, sanctioned, locked in, for another 12 months.
But this is the last extension, the city commissioners say. This time we're going to reform the police. We really, really mean it. Just give us, and the cops, one more year.
The Portland police should be working without a contract until true accountability, in the form of serious civilian review, is enshrined in a new contract. But sadly, that isn't happening. The beat goes on.