For Portland cops, bonuses and raises. For you, not much.

After yesterday's rant, I want to write something more today about the new Portland police contract, which is about to get railroaded through and probably start the next round of riots. And I should start by apologizing to the O for accusing them of not covering the contract. In fact, Maxine Bernstein over there wrote a pretty full article about it, but the people who place stories on the O's tragic website buried it. It wasn't behind the paywall, but it was behind the wall of crap. "Dear Abby, My stepfather is acting creepy." I couldn't find Bernstein's story until an alert reader pointed me to it.

Okay, enough with the mea culpa bit. Confiteor Deo, and all that. Let's talk about this contract.

The big news, and Bernstein spilled most of her ink on this aspect of it, is that all the cops are getting not only raises but bonuses. Bonuses! Two rounds of them, I think it is. Because everything's going so great, I guess. Oh, and they'll get another couple of grand as a thank-you for undergoing crisis intervention training. God forbid that should be a regular part of their jobs.

Also in the contract, the police union graciously allows the city to send mental health counselors and fire medics out to calls that seem to be about unarmed people experiencing mental illness. As long as no cops get laid off, the union will allow it. Gee, thanks, guys. With the police force being short by about 100 sworn personnel and using that as an excuse to not do anything but pick up bullet casings, I don't think layoffs were a real threat.

I was appalled to read that when they draft up procedures and protocols for the "Portland Street Response," which is what the new touchy-feely responders are called, it will be done by a committee that has eight police and fire chief types and eight people from the unions. Who the heck is running this pop stand? I think the police union gets to say when it's okay for Ted Wheeler to go to the bathroom during City Council meetings.

The other thing that's happening is that an official-looking police "discipline guide," which has existed for a while, is now apparently being incorporated into the contract. It lays out what could happen, theoretically, to a bad cop. But we all know what actually does happen, which is little or nothing, and on that score, the contract just rubber-stamps the status quo. Faceless arbitrators will still be involved, letting offending officers off the hook. 

The contract barely acknowledges the new community review board that the voters overwhelmingly demanded 15 months ago. The cops are fighting that tooth and nail, and the agreement doesn't stop them from doing so. Every little aspect of setting up that board will be held up by the union. Meanwhile, the city auditor is disbanding the existing, toothless review board, and so for the foreseeable future, there's going to be less accountability than ever.

And tellingly, there's still a wicked clause in there that any police discipline has to be done in the manner "least likely to embarrass" the cop. Even if an officer murders someone in cold blood, the city has to make sure they're not "embarrassed." Great priorities.

As I mentioned yesterday, there's nothing settled about body cams, which the union wants to weaponize to protect bad cops. Those shrewd bargainers who repesented the city got nothing about that from the union. Zip. Nada.

I think there may be a slight, slight expansion of drug testing, but other than that, here's my executive summary of the new police union contract: The cops are all getting bonuses and raises, and the public is getting more of the same as it ever was.

It's a four-year deal.

But importantly, Commissioner Jo Ann "With the Bullhorn" Hardesty has declared victory. It's one of her success stories. That oughta tell you something right there.


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