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Hall Monitor

The Cops' Curious Silence

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IT'S NOT SURPRISING, when you think about it. But for the second time, the Portland Police Bureau has released a riveting set of Police Review Board reports with zero fanfare.

Instead, a few days ago, the bureau quietly posted the reports on a remote corner of its website. Just like last summer, when it unceremoniously posted the first-ever public accounting of the five-member panel's work.

Which is a shame. Because the (redacted) discipline reports are terribly compelling—and a bureau that's talked a lot about transparency under Chief Mike Reese should do all it can to avoid looking like it wants to bury controversial information.

This month's batch, especially, includes prominent cases that've been on Portlanders' minds for months.

In the biggest, the board—which reviews misconduct investigations and makes discipline recommendations to Reese—overwhelmingly found nothing wrong with the May 2010 shooting of Keaton Otis. Gang enforcement cops—who didn't like the way Otis was slouched while driving—flagged the young, African American man with mental illness. Otis, who did have a gun in his car, was shot by officers (Otis also shot an officer) and was also zapped with a Taser. Then, after he was dead, his body was hit three times with a beanbag shotgun.

The reports also contain previously reported findings involving Sergeant Kyle Nice, the cop in the James Chasse beating who's being sued for waving a pistol at another driver in a fit of road rage, and Scott Westerman, the former police union boss who was fired this summer for menacing the same woman in back-to-back road-rage incidents in 2010 and then lying to investigators.

The smaller-scale reports are even more interesting. For instance! The review board—which is made up of police commanders, citizens, and the city's independent police review director—came down hard on a pair of cops who showed up, off duty, at a strip club they usually have to keep on eye on while on duty.

Dubious, but not terrible. But then the cops cashed in on their status, enjoying some free "private dances," even paying for one with handcuffs, and, well, yeah.

There's another weird case, presumably involving sexual harassment, with most of the rest dealing with cops who drove or fought while drunk.

But guess what really stuck out? In all but a few cases, the board urged, sometimes with strong language, suspensions and worse for accused officers.

That doesn't make the police bureau look bad. But it does make its silence all the more curious. Unless it's not the community's reaction the brass is worried about.

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