Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner sat through most of this week’s day-and-a-half-long “fairness hearing” on federal police reform in Portland, keeping quiet while some five dozen speakers went before US District Court Judge Michael Simon—many of them begging the judge to reject a reform plan many believe is too weak.
The rank-and-file union boss very occasionally made faces during the hearing, but he didn’t let on how he felt. Until today. He sent a statement to his nearly 1,000 members saying he left the courthouse so shaken he was “wondering why we do the work we do.”
He questioned the credibility of the speakers who recounted their own accusations of police misconduct and disappointing oversight. He made clear he doesn’t think much of civilian oversight, even in the limited form Portland provides it. And he also took a shot at former Mayor Sam Adams—who initially negotiated the reform agreement in 2012—by calling out the Beau Breedlove scandal.
(Adams was investigated by the state attorney general’s office but never charged; I guess this means Turner has no problem with publicly hectoring cops who’ve been accused of misconduct and actually found in violation by bureau commanders—even if an arbitrator ultimately overturned that discipline?)
The comments do not bode well for Simon’s helpful suggestion that the US Department of Justice and city of Portland might consider amending the agreement to accommodate community concerns. The agreement includes some recommendations on collecting more data on racial disparities and tighter oversight mechanisms, but mostly deals with findings on how officers use force against people in mental health crisis.
The current deal went before the judge only after Turner’s union won some changes—most significantly in how the bureau wrote its new use of force policy—and reluctantly gave its approval last December.
Turner seems to have already budged as much as he’s willing to budge.
Turner’s comments do not appear on a list of news releases on the PPA’s website. But Turner has said some of this stuff publicly before. Earlier this month, he took to his union’s newsletter to expound on his distaste for a police accountability system he thinks isn’t fair to cops—and that the feds had criticized as “Byzantine” and “self-defeating.”