PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland Police Association, the organization that represents rank-and-file members of the Portland Police Bureau, is upset with how the City of Portland presented the bureau in its new job posting for chief of police.
“Yesterday, the Mayor posted the job announcement for police chief candidates, which led with a statement about the ‘history of legally sanctioned systemic racism with legally enforced exclusionary practices’ in the City,” PPA President Daryl Turner wrote in an email to his members.
Turner’s email went on to state that “understandably, the verbiage and the tenor of the job posting left many in the rank and file angry and confused, as the clear implication from the posting is that the Police Bureau and its members have supported a racist culture in the City.”
The job posting “seemed to have a tenor to throw a racist culture on the feet of Portland police officers and the organization,” Turner told KOIN 6 News.
On Wednesday, following a request from KOIN 6 News, Mayor Ted Wheeler released the following statement:
“Our city and state have a shared history of racial injustice, from our state’s original constitution – which contained an exclusion law banning black people from living here – to the hardships faced by those in Vanport before and after the flood, to the disparate outcomes for people of color in our legal system. I have spoken about this shared history at length. I have never called into question the values and beliefs of our rank and file police officers. I have tremendous respect for the hard work they do every day in the community. At a time that calls for a shared vision and unity of purpose regarding the future of the Portland Police Bureau, today’s letter from the Portland Police Association is needlessly inflammatory and divisive. We are conducting a national search, fulfilling a commitment I made to the community last year. Anyone applying for the job should be fully aware of our state’s history, and prepared to join me in ensuring that this history is just that… in the past.”
Turner’s e-mail to members went on to read, PPB “continues to struggle with inadequate staffing and, despite the baggage left after the forced retirement of ex-Chief Larry O’Dea, Chief Marshman and his staff have managed to hold the Bureau together, raising morale, providing leadership, and ensuring stability.”
PPA wanted some bureau highlights put into the job posting.
“There was no mention of the PPB Behavioral Health Unit’s recent national recognition for their ground-breaking efforts in working with citizens with mental illness or in a mental health crisis,” Turner said. “There was no mention of the, still short staffed, Gang Enforcement Team whose hard work is evident in the 40% reduction of gang shootings from this time last year.”
Wheeler told KOIN 6 News members of the PPA were part of a group coming up with the job requirements. Wheeler said he’s produ of the police force but the city is doing a national search for a new chief.
“I want anyone who applies for the position to understand we do have this issue of race here in the community, like every large community in America,” Wheeler said. I want a police chief who supports hiring and promoting people of color and traditionally underserved communities.”
The City of Portland provided KOIN 6 News with the following timeline of the hiring process:
- Open Search Process: May 15, 2017
Application Deadline: June 12, 2017
Initial Evaluation Process: Week of June 19, 2017
Initial Interviews: Week of June 24, 2017
Finalists Identified: Week of July 3, 2017
Panel and Final Interviews: Week of July 17, 2017
KOIN 6 News reporter Lisa Balick contributed to this report