What are Police, Really?

Soulcial-isms: From the Mind of Bradford

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What I’m about to say isn’t popular, and will undoubtedly tick some people off. Some will say the I’m-so-sick-of-hearing phrase, “not all cops are bad”, others will say, “Blue Lives Matter”. And I’ll say upfront that you are both correct. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not about doing or saying what is popular, but what is righteous.

I remember when I was a child, propaganda campaigns would play on the mind control box aka tell-lie-vision, in a child like voice, saying: “The man in blue is a friend to you”. This phrase would be repeated in various ways. In school, the same message was repeated by my teachers, principals, and other school administrators. They even handed out collateral to us to take home, that outlined the policemen’s role in protecting our communities, and how we are to feel safe in their presence. Even these administers of…

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Fred Stewart for a Portland Youth Bureau. Vote Fred Instead!

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Friends during this election season we have discussed a lot of issues and they are all important. One of the most important is what can we do to improve the lives and opportunities for all of our children. Especially children that are in families that are struggling to just keep a roof over their heads. Portland must always invest in our youth through the up and the down cycles we face in Portland. ‪#‎PortlandYouthBureau‬

City Commissioner Candidate Fred Stewart with Dr. Don Baham

 

 

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Host, Dr. Don Baham, interviews guest about how and why he chose to become a political public servant in pursuit of his desire to be of service to his fellow citizens. Fred appears to personify dedication to progressive ideas and action.

 

 

The Issues of Homelessness as they Relate to Law Enforcement

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By Fred Stewart

Law enforcement should play a more active role in addressing Portland’s homelessness crisis.

Over the last few months, I’ve talked to Portland voters and found that one issue on everyone’s mind, regardless of where they live, is the problem posed by the city’s homeless population. Portlanders are upset about the lack of a strategic plan on how to deal with the ever-growing homeless population and the societal effects of having people living on our streets and in our parks.

City Hall must do more to shelter the homeless and to address the factors that led to their homelessness. However, there is also a step to solving our homelessness crisis that City Council currently neglects: policing. To reduce crime, our police must be allowed to make further contact with our homeless.

After a shooting at a homeless camp last month, the Mayor issued a statement that, in my opinion, sums up his lack of vision and problem-solving skills on this issue. Mayor Hales said, “This particular incident highlights that our homeless population are among our most vulnerable to being victimized by criminals, regardless of whether the criminal lives indoors or out. It’s why the City has been aggressively working to find safe places for people to sleep in the short term and to get back to the safety of a permanent home as quickly as possible.”

The Mayor’s comments would suggest that he understands that homelessness is a challenge that the city must face from many angles. Unfortunately, his actions don’t match his words. Right now, City Hall is pretending that the growth in our homeless population has no effect on crime. As the recent shooting reveals, we cannot continue to act like more homelessness in Portland will not require more policing to mitigate its impact. So, let me help Mayor Hales understand how to help solve the problem, not surrender to it.

  1. Regardless of whether the police are told not to enforce the law against street camping, street camping is still against the law. City Hall should let the police start contacting and getting identification from people found camping on the street. They should do this to keep track of wanted people with outstanding warrants, sex offenders violating their probation and parole, runaways, and abuse victims.
  2. Expand the Police Behavioral Health Unit. Reach out to OHSU for medical and psychology students to pair with an officer as part of their education. PSU’s School of Social Work should be invited to get involved, too. This will grant our students valuable experience and will give our police the support and training they need to best address the sensitive issue of mental illness.
  3. Pair a Portland Fire Bureau SERT medic with an officer on each of these active-engagement police shifts, to help assess medical needs on people they contact. Many homeless people have untreated physical and mental health problems that must be addressed as root causes in order to reduce homelessness in our city.
  4. Expand the police’s current ability to place a civil hold on intoxicated people to include minors found in violation of curfew who cannot identify themselves or their guardians. Furthermore, the scope of civil hold should also be expanded to include people who are psychologically unable to care for themselves and are either gravely disabled by their condition or pose a danger to themselves or others.

Here is what I think will happen. As wanted people are arrested, criminals will hear that the cops are engaged and looking for people with warrants and will thus move out of Portland. As runaway minors are identified, some of that segment of the population will leave–hopefully to return home. With more information on these runaways, the City will be more able to help address their needs, both in terms of social services and the justice system.

The goal should be to actively engage, not to ignore. Homelessness is not a crime, but there are criminals among our current homeless population that must be stopped. We owe it to Portland to make sure we weed out the bad so they don’t prey on the good. The mayor’s current policy is like a three-legged table. Without active law enforcement as a fourth leg, it is unusable.

Recently I was walking in the Pearl District with my friend and advisor, retired PPB Captain CW Jensen, when we were solicited for money by a homeless man. I said that I would not give him money, but I would pay him to answer a few questions. He quickly agreed. I found out he was from San Diego. When I asked him why he would leave such a great climate for rainy Portland, he said that they arrest people down there, and everyone knows that Portland has better benefits for the homeless than San Diego and that our cops don’t hassle them as much. That was worth every cent of the three bucks I handed him.

It is well and good that the City of Portland provides compassion and care for its homeless population. At the same time, we must not neglect the law enforcement needs of our city when dealing with them. Citizens, churches, and business owners should not be forced to have their homes, facilities, and storefronts used as beds, toilets, or trash cans by the homeless. In particular, we should work to weed out criminals from within their ranks, which will certainly happen if we investigate street campers for outstanding warrants.

By refusing to allow law enforcement to even engage street campers, the City is making it easier for criminals to prey upon its citizens, both within and outside the homeless community, and this makes Portland a worse place to live, visit, and do business. That is not compassion, it is complicity. As a Portlander of 39 years who loves our city and its values of generosity and respect, that saddens me.

Portland Police Visioning Committee, Part 1

 

 

 

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I will lead the City of Portland in developing the type of Police Bureau that will reflect the values of the people of Portland.  We are one of the safest cities in the United States, and we can do better. ~ Fred Stewart

Fifty years ago, our grandparents came together to decide how the Portland Police Bureau would change and develop over time. They epitomized civic engagement through their involvement with numerous agencies in our city and their governance. The decisions that they made affect us today because they shaped the attitudes and policies of the Portland Police Bureau and its response to changes in technology, society, and Portland’s cultural landscape. These decisions have helped us make real improvements to our police force, but some of the policies and practices that they developed half a century ago are outdated and simply do not work.

Today we stand in a similar place where our grandparents stood some fifty years ago. We are trying to design a police force of the future and are working to improve the decision-making process that will impact the lives and liberty of our children and our grandchildren. The choice we have before us is between a humane, socially-engaged, and responsive police force that respects citizens as it protects and serves them, and a militarized, high-tech, “Robocop” police force that might protect us, but also threatens some of the liberties we all enjoy.

What will the police force of the 2060s look like in Portland? That is the question we must answer. Our answers to this difficult question and the changes we make as a result will have a serious impact on the lives of our descendants. We owe it to them, to the people who will inherit Portland, and, of course, to ourselves, to make these decisions carefully and in an inclusive, democratic manner. These decisions must live up to the principles of self-government and liberty that were handed down by our Founding Fathers and defended by our grandparents–principles that will preserve a finer way of life for our grandchildren, and for their children as well.

That is why I propose a Police Visioning Committee made up of community leaders, business leaders, and retired police officers to help us answer the important questions that face the Police Bureau. This Police Visioning Committee will brainstorm ideas and methods that will help ensure a police force that respects and protects citizens and upholds the people’s civil rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

Some of the questions that must be answered by this committee include:

  • How can we make certain the Police Bureau is diverse and inclusive of allracial and ethnic groups in the city?
  • How can the Police Bureau become more sensitive, responsive, and aware ofthe needs of our diverse citizenry, which includes the large number of homeless and mentally ill people currently living in Portland?
  • How can police officers be held accountable for their actions, especially anytype of wrongdoing, without infringing on their rights, including their right to union representation?
  • Should police officers be armed in all situations, or are there times when anunarmed police presence is more desirable?
  • How can we protect our officers from the violence and reduce the effectsof post-traumatic stress on police officers?
  • How can we effectively deal with people experiencing mental health crises without treating the mentally ill as a threat or the enemy, while ensuring that law enforcement officers are protected from violence and “suicide by cop” attacks?
  • How can we successfully recruit new officers and deal with the policemanpower shortage without recruiting police officers from other cities? How can we avoid getting the “bad apples” that a particular department may wish to transfer out in order to get rid of them?

Deciding how our Police Bureau needs to change and evolve will not be an easy process because there are so many important dynamics to consider. Some police methods are time-honored, highly effective, and should not change, while other police methods and training procedures should be examined with new eyes, in hopes of updating them.

It was not easy, to develop and sustain good leadership for the Portland Police Bureau when it was established in the 1870s, and it was not easy in the 1930s when advances in technology and changes in society required that Portland leaders once again reform the Bureau’s practices. It was not easy when changes were instituted in the tumultuous 1960s, in response to all the political and social unrest and civil rights reforms that transformed our country. The changes that resulted from that formative era shape the Portland Police Bureau of today.   

We cannot shirk our responsibility to overhaul the Police Bureau simply because it is not easy. Instead, we must make these decisions together with all citizens who hold a stake in the future of Portland.  This is what the Police Visioning Committee needs to address, for the betterment of all Portland citizens, here and in the future.

I urge all Portlanders who genuinely care about our city to support and participate in this process. As we make the decisions and lay the groundwork to provide our descendants with a Police Bureau that is humane, diverse, effective, and committed to a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Portland, we need community involvement and engagement to make that actually happen.

Portland needs a Police Bureau that will uphold the ideals of American policing: to protect and serve, while creating and maintaining positive relationships with community members of all races, all classes and from all parts of the city. My goal is that twenty five years from today, all Portlanders will consider the Portland Police Bureau the best police force the city has ever had, and celebrate its engaged, committed, and friendly officers who genuinely care for all Portland’s people.