Sgt. Scott Westerman, the Portland police union president, is taking another swipe at Chief Rosie Sizer for delaying her decision on whether to discipline the officers involved in the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr.
Using strong words in the upcoming issue of The Rap Sheet, Westerman writes in the union newspaper that one of those officers, Christopher Humphreys, has been “publicly ignored and discarded by the administration.” The article was obtained by WW in advance. The new issue is expected to go online later this week.
Westerman told WW last month that the officers have been cleared by the Police Bureau’s Use of Force Review Board. That decision has not yet been made public. Westerman feels that until Sizer’s choice is known, the officers involved are still twisting in the wind more than two years after Chasse’s highly publicized death.
Since Westerman was elected union president in October, he says he’s had repeated conversations with Sizer urging her to make her recommendation on whether to discipline the officers. Once she makes her decision, she hands it to Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who makes the final call.
Here’s an excerpt of Westerman’s remarks in a final draft of the article [ from the January 2009 The Rap Sheet – eds ] .
We need to support each other in positive ways as we are all in this together.
To make this point more clear, all anyone has to do is look at Officers Jason Sery and Chris Humphreys. Both of these officers were very well respected by everyone they worked around, both citizens and fellow officers. They exemplified everything one could imagine a police officer should be. They were dedicated, professional police officers doing the job when something tragic happened. Both of these officers were involved in different situations that, when reviewed objectively, were found to have done everything right. They were both cleared by the grand jury, and every subsequent level of oversight. Yet both of these officers have been crucified by some in the media, some members of the public, and worse of all, publicly ignored and discarded by the administration. The sad reality of police work in Portland is, every single one of us is just a radio call away from being mistreated the same way. This is why we should remember that we are in this together. If you see these officers, give them your support. More importantly though, when you engage the citizens of Portland in discussions about police work, take a moment to express your support for them then too.
While we all know we will never gain the support of every citizen of Portland, I wholeheartedly believe we still have the support of the majority of the citizens. We will once again enjoy a time where it will be socially acceptable to praise the police publicly. Maybe if we can get the citizens to start PUBLICLY speaking in support of us during socially charged incidents, we can get the administration to do so too. Until then, we have only ourselves to rely on.