Few-Bad-Apples News

The intertubes have been abuzz this week with stories about bad cops in Oregon, particularly here in Portlandia. The city is paying out about $2.1 million to settle the lawsuit brought by the family of Quanice Hayes, a Black teenager who was needlessly shot dead by a Portland police officer.

Hayes was 17 when he was killed Feb. 9, 2017, by Portland police Officer Andrew Hearst, who shot Hayes three times with an AR-15 rifle from some 10 feet away as Hayes was on his knees with hands in the air. Police had cornered Hayes in a rain-soaked driveway in Northeast Portland following reports of armed carjackings in the area. Hayes was not armed when Hearst killed him. A month later, a grand jury declined to charge Hearst for the shooting....

Hearst shot Hayes once in his head and twice in his chest. Although police did not find a gun on Hayes’ body, they later found a replica gun nearby. Hayes had allegedly used the fake weapon in the carjacking incidents, according to witnesses.

Hearst killed Hayes as a result of the training Portland police receive, which is that they must shoot to kill before a suspect shows a weapon. "By the time I see the gun, I'm dead." You hear it over and over again, every time this happens, which is not infrequently.

The same city attorney's office that worked out the Hayes settlement is currently negotiating a new contract with the police union, which is headed by a guy who lives in Clark County, Washington. Maybe they should put a clause in the contract that the union gets to pay the damages in cases like Hearst's.

Meanwhile, down in Salem, two bills moving through the legislature would greatly alter the shoddy system of police "discipline" that prevails now in places like Portland.

Two bills considered centerpieces of Oregon’s police reform agenda in the Legislature -- one to allow public access to police discipline records and the other to restrict arbitrators from overturning police discipline -- got their first hearings Monday.

House Bill 3145 would direct Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to create a public database that captures complaints against officers, the allegations brought and whether any discipline was issued and what it was. It also would include resignations or firings of officers.

House Bill 2930 would allow police agencies to adopt discipline guides for officers without negotiating with a police union. It also would restrict arbitrators from overturning police discipline if “evidence exists” that would “permit a reasonable person to conclude that the officer engaged in misconduct.”

Those would both be fine with me. If the boys in blue don't like it, they can find themselves a nice sheriff's department out in the sticks somewhere, and Portland can start recruiting cops who live here, tell the truth, keep their cool, and share the values of the majority of the city's population.