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Portland Police PIO responds to coverage of Ainsworth incident

Posted by on November 18th, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Sergeant Brian Schmautz, the Public Information Officer for the Portland Police Bureau has left a detailed comment in response to our story on the Ainsworth incident.

On Saturday, several members of the PSU Cycling Club were riding on Ainsworth when they were allegedly passed dangerously by a Portland Police Officer. According to witnesses that saw the incident, one of the riders gestured to the officer in frustration and the officer then pulled him over, a discussion ensued, and several tickets were issued (to two riders).

After reading through 143 a few of the comments on the original story, here is how Sgt. Schmautz replied:

I have read several of the postings in this current thread and would like to join this discussion with a few brief comments. The conclusions you are reaching about the incident described in the story are based on statements made by the individuals who encountered the officer. It is a one-sided version of the incident. I am personally aware of several prior stories on this website where it was eventually determined that the facts of an event differed dramatically from the original description of the event.

I am also surprised by the vitriol of some of the individuals posting in the comment section. How many of the individuals posting have ever had direct contact with the officer involved in this event or for that matter, any police officer? Would you be willing to make such blanket and far-reaching conclusions about any other group of human beings?

I personally believe that individuals learn about each other by a respectful dialogue. Opinions are changed and lessons are learned by finding points of mutual agreement and then working toward changing hearts and minds. It is difficult for officers to engage in a meaningful or productive dialogue when people are making such broadly sweeping, and in some cases, threatening statements.

The final word on this incident will be by a Traffic Court judge who hears both sides of the story and applies the law to the facts provided. I believe it would be better to have someone hear both sides and report on them. This would allow the reader to draw informed conclusions rather than just venting in a way that does nothing to improve communication.

Beginning with a premise that lacks factual complete information leads to uninformed decisions and does not improve the relationships required to create a safer society.

Sergeant Brian Schmautz
Public Information Officer
Portland Police Bureau

Story continues below

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I will respond by saying that I reported the story objectively and only as it was presented to me by three different witnesses, one of whom I know and trust personally.

I agree with Sgt. Schmautz that it is better to hear both sides, but in this case I decided to present the story with the information I had at the time. Because this is a traffic citation, it wouldn’t even have risen to the level that the PIO would have known about.

I would also point out that there are countless stories reported in the media that come directly and solely through statements and interviews with Sgt. Schmautz and include no other perspective whatsoever. That was the case with the big road rage story back in July that was sensationalized by the Oregonian and then sparked international interest.

It is also worth noting that covering the police is a tricky job. The PPB is often unable to share details of a case until well after the news cycle is complete, making it impossible for a reporter to share both sides of a story. That’s why I take the utmost care and deliberation in presenting stories like this and I try to present them in an objective light.

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NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive (heck, sometimes we even fix your typos!). That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with class and respect. This is our business and we do not tolerate mean commenters who add nothing of value to the discussion.

Unfortunately, we are not robots and we don't always catch everything. You can help by notifying us if you see inappropriate comments. Thanks! — Jonathan and Michael

Comments
  • bDave November 18, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Jonathan,
    I have always admired your unbiased approach when reporting on bikeportland. If it weren’t for your finely crafted objectivity, your site wouldn’t be what it has become today.

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  • Blair November 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Five paragraphs to say nothing? Why bother responding if there are no details? To scold Bike Portland commenters like an authoritarian school teacher? I think so, because the letter provides no further insights on the matter. And the officer never said he read all 143 comments, just that he had read “several of the postings in this current thread” (Schmautz).

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  • K'Tesh November 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I think bDave says it well…

    Keep up the good work!

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  • matt picio November 18, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    I’m curious about the “threatening statements”. I did read all 143 comments and can’t recall any threats of violence. Are we not allowed to criticize anymore? Some of the statements could potentially be libelous, but I’m curious which ones are potentially threatening.

    I don’t envy Sgt. Schmautz, however – PIO is a thankless job, and PPB has a serious image problem in much of the community and many of its various sub-communities. I certainly hope that the PPB takes the general tone of people’s responses to the actions of PPB officers into consideration and not get bogged down by the individual manifestations.

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  • matt picio November 18, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Oh, and I agree – Jonathan, you do a great job of being as objective and unbiased as your sources allow.

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  • patrickz November 18, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    As stated above, Jonathan, you do a fine, accurate and unbiased job.

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  • Adam November 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Jonathan, you have no reason to have to justify your reporting. You do an excellent job. If Schmautz wants both sides to be heard why doesn’t he release an official statement telling his officer’s side?

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  • brettoo November 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Jonathan: you reported the story fairly and objectively. You’ve never claimed to be a mainstream journalist, but there’s no ethical rule in journalism that forbids you from presenting facts alleged by people involved in news. You should try to get all (it’s usually more than just two) sides of any story, but if you’ve done that (i.e asked PPB to comment), and one side refuses or is unable to give its version, well, there’s not much else you can do except report that version later when it becomes available. We readers need to be aware that we’re hearing only one side and reserve judgment accordingly. Keep up the good work.

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  • Todd Boulanger November 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Jonathan – keep up the good work and getting the word out. Stay the course on promoting discussion.

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  • N.I.K. November 18, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Reading his statement, I can only conclude that Sgt. Schmautz has so little to say on the incident because there *is* so little to say. What’s more, for someone quick to decry the accusations of people who weren’t present at the occurrence of said incident, he sure is quick to pull out his own blanket accusations about who has/hasn’t dealt with the PPB. Looks like the new era of the sarky rhetorical “does that really happen” is being upheld.

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  • Hart November 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Did this just cop just threaten the people posting on this site? The noive!

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  • toddistic November 18, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    One fact remains, apart from either side of the story. Ainsworth is a dangerous street to cycle on due to impatient drivers. It lacks proper traffic control devices compared with similar streets in NE. If we put in a few more four way stop signs it would make a world of difference.

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  • Kathleen McDade November 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Jonathan, I think the reporting was fine. I think the important think to note is what Sgt. Schmautz said about commenters. Even if there were no actual threats of violence made, there IS a strong tendency for internet commenters to jump to conclusions and make statements that they perhaps would not make to a person’s face. We do have to remember that people are people, even on the internet. Whether talking about a police officer, cyclist, pedestrian, driver, government official — even if they DID make a mistake, that person is a human being.

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  • Argentius November 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    The problem with this, in part, is the standard of proof required.

    Unlike prosecutions for crimes, police have a very low standard of proof for traffic violations. I don’t think it’s possible for a driver or rider to operate their vehicle without commiting dozens of putative violations that could meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard required.

    The problem, then, is that the combination of the cost of the tickets, the value of the time involved in contesting them, and the potentially large raise in auto insurance rate, if the cyclists in question are rider / drivers, is largely without oversight.

    Without having been there, how many tickets of this nature are reasonably legitimately issued?

    How is it even reasonably possible to be cited for failing to update the information on a document one is not required to carry?

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  • CMyers November 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Blair #2 is right!
    He didn’t say anything in those five paragraphs. I would expect a lot more from the PIO of the PPB. You get a sense that he is starting to circle the wagons. Do our tax dollars actually pay for Sergeant Schmautz?! I can’t believe that a trained Public Information Officer commented in such a manner.

    Interesting that this whole thing could have been avoided if the officer had just waited to pass the riders.

    Whatever happened to doing the right thing!

    I have been studying Portland history for a while (kind of a hobby) and it’s interesting to note that since Portland’s incorporation in 1851, we have had a very long tradition of corrupt and negative activities within the police department. I’m not saying they are corrupt now. But they still have that attitude that they can and will do anything they want. It’s disgusting.

    Keep up the great work J!

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  • N.I.K. November 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Kathleen, that bit about being human’s a perfectly valid point. Point out where Sgt. Schmautz actually says this instead of being acridly contrarian towards the acridly contrarian and you’ll alter my perspective drastically. Regrettably, the Sergeant has little to say here that goes beyond adversarial finger-wagging, and even less to say regarding the incident itself. Comparatively speaking, he would have been better off not having said anything at all.

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  • bjorn November 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Jonathan, I would encourage you to see about getting a copy of any dashboard camera footage that may exist of the incident and posting it online. This footage might show both how close the officer came to the cyclists as well as any gesture that was made etc.

    Bjorn

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  • -b November 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    “I would also point out that there are countless stories reported in the media that come directly and solely through statements and interviews with Sgt. Schmautz and include no other perspective whatsoever. That was the case with the big road rage story back in July that was sensationalized by the Oregonian and then sparked international interest.”

    thank you for pointing that out. seems like schmautz is starting to get a little worried. which is pretty hilarious. afterall, he knows that, “The final word on this incident will be by a Traffic Court judge who hears both sides of the story and applies the law to the facts provided.”
    therefore, why is he so invested in what the public thinks?
    maybe it’s because he fears the power of the people.
    schmautz complaining about a one-sided perspective is hella livin’ in a glass house.

    we’re one of the most pro-active larger cities in this nation. we’re not going to blindly bow down to ascribed authority figures.
    little beirut represent!

    long live the independent media!

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  • N.I.K. November 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Interesting that this whole thing could have been avoided if the officer had just waited to pass the riders.

    That one sentence is possibly the most loaded and worth-while statement I’ve seen on the entire episode. Indeed, it is a sad day when simple impatience -particularly concerning circumstances not at all unusual in a place such as Portland!- swallows up time, words, and tax dollars.

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  • Dave November 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I completely second what Kathleen said – I’ve found on my own blog and this blog and a number of others, that it’s easy for people to make really angry statements about things (I’ve done it myself without thinking), and it only serves to stir everyone up and create a tense situation. Even if you disagree with how the police officer treated the situation, that’s all you need to say. You don’t need to start making judgements about his character or of police officers in general, just say you don’t agree with how he handled the situation, end of story.

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  • Kathleen McDade November 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    N.I.K. I based my comments on paragraphs 2-3 of Sgt. Schmautz’s statement.

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  • borgbike November 18, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Sez Sgt. Schmautz: “The final word on this incident will be by a Traffic Court judge who hears both sides of the story”

    Well, yes and no. The bicyclists should go to trial. That will be a form of justice, but I wouldn’t get snookered by the fact that that will do anything to change the offending officer’s attitude towards bicyclists. The only way to get justice in this sense is to file a complaint with the PPD.

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  • gabriel amadeus November 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Based merely on the citations that were issued to the cyclists I have successfully concluded that Officer Pryce is a jerk. I really want to go to court for this one, just so I can see a judge make fun of him.

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  • N.I.K. November 18, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Kathleen: you mean gems like, “It is difficult for officers to engage in a meaningful or productive dialogue when people are making such broadly sweeping, and in some cases, threatening statements.”? Pot, kettle, etc. Again, 100% valid point on your end, but if enacting constructive dialog what the Sargeant was really getting at, he ought to approach things from that angle, particularly as a servant of the public at large. Instead, he writes *everybody* off as a bunch of hostile myth-peddlers who don’t know what they’re talking about and goes on to say how tough it is to talk about things when a story is “one sided”. That’s it, and it’s weak in the extreme. Either talk about the incident or don’t, FFS.

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  • Coyote November 18, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    When I read the story Jonathon, I was a little surprised you posted it. It was kind of a us vs. them powder keg with little to be gained, and little hope of resolution.

    Cops often react poorly when challenged. That has nothing to with bicycles, that is just a cop/citizen thing. In my experience, many cops act significantly more poorly than Officer Pryce apparently did. No judgment on my part for either party, just an observation.

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  • k. November 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Jonathan unbiased?! Obviously you’ve never read any of his coverage of the Sprockettes. ;-)

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  • bobcycle November 18, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    “Interesting that this whole thing could have been avoided if the officer had just waited to pass the riders.”
    Also could have been avoided if the cyclist didn’t display his displeasure at the police officer

    Also could have been avoided if police officer ignored said display of displeasure

    (this here incident would make a great song with 3 part harmonies by Arlo Guthrie)
    The show down of the college bicycle team and the PDX Police community officer. A wise judge would suggest this be solved by some sort of contest held on bikes… (use your imagination)

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  • joe November 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    +1 for props to JMaus for covering this sort of incident. Even though he knows that he will catch a bunch of flak for it on all sides, he has the sprockets to research and write it.

    This sort of event is a nexus of infrastructure, legality, PPB’s attitude toward cycling, safe riding, and group rides.

    He always gives both sides an opportunity to talk. I do not know of another reporter who does this with such commitment. damn, I wish I could think of something accusatory or inflammatory. but, in any case, good job.

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  • anonymous. November 18, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    “How many of the individuals posting have ever had direct contact with the officer involved in this event or for that matter, any police officer?”

    Well, -I- certainly have.

    “Would you be willing to make such blanket and far-reaching conclusions about any other group of human beings?”

    Generally speaking? No.

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  • Ian November 18, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Unfortunately, the comments of Sgt. Schmautz would lead us to believe we have heard only half of a two sided story and that both parties should be allowed equal consideration for their version of the events. The fallacy in his statement is that when both parties do have their full story heard in a court of law, the police officer’s word will be given significantly more weight. I’m not saying I disagree with our court system giving more credence to the word of a sworn officer. I’m simply trying to point out that Sgt. Schmautz’s comments are misleading.

    As to the incident, well, I think enough has been said about that already. I look forward to the trial results and I hope the outcome is a respectable one.

    Thanks for your continuing hard work, Jonathan.

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  • RyNO Dan November 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Schmautz – In fact many of us /have/ had interactions with your collegues, and many of them /have/ been unpleasant with bad outcomes where cyclists were treated
    unnecessarily poorly. That’s what makes the portrayal of this event SO believable. There is ample precedent for situation, and the responses should be completely understandable.
    Very simple – Why did the officer stop the cyclists after the officer had passed the cyclists in the patrol car ?
    You are the information officer. Please add the factual information that you mention to be missing. Happy Day !!

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  • ss29er November 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    “Respectful dialogue” for people to learn about each other??? Tell that to the officers who got pissed off and simply started issuing tickets. There’s no respectful dialogue there – just one sided arrogant abuse of authority. No “blanket” meaning here. But who is going to disagree that this isn’t common of police in situations like this. I don’t care who you are – if you’re in a car making life dangerous for a cyclist, you deserve a huge earful, and if you can’t get over a middle finger in the process, figure out a way. There is zero excuse for driving like this around cyclists. Period.

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  • matt picio November 18, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    k. (#25) – Oh, I *know* you didn’t just diss the Sprockettes.

    We’re going to have to throw down, you and I. ;-)

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  • L November 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Jonathan,

    Please change this post’s title. In no way did Officer Schmautz respond to the Ainsworth incident. He merely responded to your reporting and the comments made on BP.

    I agree as well that it is best to hear all sides. We still haven’t heard the PPD’s yet…

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  • PdxMark November 18, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I agree with Sgt. Schmaultz’s comment that “individuals learn about each other by a respectful dialogue. Opinions are changed and lessons are learned by finding points of mutual agreement and then working toward changing hearts and minds.”

    My problem with this whole story is that it doesn’t sound like the officer had any intention to cite anyone until he got tired of the discussion. Rather than knowing how to end a “respectful dialogue” it sounds much more like the officer resorted to an unprofessional abuse of authority when he got frustrated with the dialogue. In this case it seems that the cyclists were cited more BECAUSE they were discussing the situation than because of how they were riding their bikes.

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  • Rixtir November 18, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Sgt. Schmautz is personally aware of several stories that were one-sided, and where it was eventually determined that the facts differed dramatically from the original story?

    So, Sgt, Schmautz, how’d that Kyle Egertson case turn out?

    *deafening silence*

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  • James Ceccorulli November 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    I had a police officer make a right on red, entering burnside as I was proceeding straight through the green light. He did not stop at the red but mereley slowed and made the turn. I grabbed ahold of the brakes and made a similar gesture to the police officer. This officer actually pulled up next to me and appoligized. Sgt Schmautz, why can’t this happen more often when an officer shows poor judgement?

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  • Feh November 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    I’d sooner believe Hank Paulson is telling the truth about the TARP bailouts than believe anything that comes out of Sgt. Schmautz’s mouth (or keyboard).

    And yes, I would indeed say that to his face.

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  • Mick November 18, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    One-sided? How about Bob Verrinder’s case, Sgt. Schmautz?

    Those in glass houses…

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  • dan November 18, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    This is the Portland Police Bureau, the home of cops who feel free to flip on their lights any time they want to run a red light. That behavior leaves a pretty poor impression of how police act towards other users of the road.

    So, which is more likely?
    1) The police officer rode too close to the bikes, got called out on it, got ticked off and threw the book at a group of cyclists. Or,
    2) The cyclists are falsely claiming police persecution.

    Sorry Sergeant Schmautz, based on my experience with the PPD, the first is many times more likely than the second. If you want to prove that’s not the case, perhaps you could release the footage from the patrol car’s video camera.

    Please

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  • dan November 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    This is the Portland Police Bureau, the home of cops who feel free to flip on their lights any time they want to run a red light. That behavior leaves a pretty poor impression of how police act towards other users of the road.

    So, which is more likely?
    1) The police officer drove too close to the bikes, got called out on it, got ticked off and threw the book at a group of cyclists. Or,
    2) The cyclists are falsely claiming police persecution.

    Sorry Sergeant Schmautz, based on my experience with the PPD, the first is many times more likely than the second. If you want to prove that’s not the case, perhaps you could release the footage from the patrol car’s video camera.

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  • marc in pdx November 18, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    jonathan keep up the great work.

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  • improperly place this November 18, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    i will tell you what. when a cop gives you a ticket for “improper placement on roadway”, that means they are giving you a ticket because they can. because they want to make you suffer. period. it has nothing to do with safety or the law or anything.

    about 8 years ago two cops gave me this same ticket as i stood between two parked cars filming (“copwatching”) them bust people during critical mass. they debated openly in front of me what they should give me a ticket for. it was nothing but pure spite and punishment.

    and let the traffic court decide? yeah, right. i went to court for that. the short version is: the judge shrugs and says “we gotta take the cops word for it”. case dismissed.

    i will NEVER forget that farcical incident, and have NO doubt that this was identical. oh, i know we are not in some fascist police state like 3/4 of the world may live in. but lets not kid ourselves, this is nothing but cops abusing their power and they know the system will support them if these cyclists go to the hassle of missing work etc to go to court.

    “improper placement on roadway”. ha! right, schmutz.

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  • r. November 18, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    if a person has to go to traffic court every time a motorist who happens to be a police officer cannot wait three seconds for a safe opportunity to pass . . .

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  • toddistic November 18, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I don’t see Schmautz respond about the safety issues on Ainsworth, where I am a resident.

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  • Rear Admiral November 18, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    I don’t really object to Jonathan’s reporting, but he can’t say he’s reporting objectively when one of the witnesses is someone he “knows and trusts”. That’s not really objective…

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) November 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    “he can’t say he’s reporting objectively when one of the witnesses is someone he “knows and trusts”. That’s not really objective…”

    rear admiral,

    just because I happen to know Mr. Welte, doesn’t not automatically mean that my story cannot be objective. Re-read it and let me know if you think i give him favorable treatment.

    the reason it’s important that I know him is because it means he is a more reliable source. I know that Mr. Welte is not the type of person who makes up stories and I trusted that he was telling me truth.

    as a reporter, I have to make decisions based on judgments like this.

    that being said, it raises an important point. No one is without some bias. reporters are not robots. PIO’s are not robots. We all have bias. What’s important is how we let (or don’t let) that bias influence our work.

    because I know and trust Mr. Welte, I was able to have more confidence in sharing his story… although even though I trusted him I still clearly present the story as being from his (and Mr. Vyn’s) point of view (instead of from a factual perspective as if I was there myself).

    thanks.

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  • Chris November 18, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    The laws of physics are not going to be repealed by bicycle assisted suicide laws. Irrespective of placement, considered proper or not, the bike and rider usually take second place in the contest between motorized and non-motorized vehicle. This isn’t a values judgement, rather, it is an unfortunate statement of fact. The atmosphere in Portland seems to be that the teflon coated bicyclist can do no wrong. The Police Officer who cited the bicyclist did what a lot of us drivers would have liked to do. When will we see more “I Share The Road” bumper stickers on bikes? It isn’t enough that the bicyclist can occupy the sidewalk, bike lane and traffic lane and move between these venues at any given time. Now bicyclists seem to want to make up the rules as they ride
    I didn’t get a drivers licence until I was 21. At 45 I still use my bike, still without a helmet, for transportation whenever it is practical to do so. To date, in my life, I have been in 18 accidents. 2 of them I own, I was ‘improperly placed’. Anymore, I consider myself invisible. Drivers don’t see me, even when we make eye contact, I don’t trust them out of my sight. Not because we hate each other, I would rather get were I am trying to go in one piece. I know I can stop my bike quicker than the driver can stop the car. I know I can be hard to spot in a blind spot, even though drafting the #9 down Broadway was a blast in the 80s’. As Portland attracts more residents, bicyclists will have to be more accommodating.
    The sooner Portland Bicyclists stop supporting an arrogant, life-threatening and negative stereo type, the sooner Portland can get back to being the number one bike friendly town that it has worked so hard to be. As a driver, I steer clear of bicyclists the way I steer clear of Portland Police, they are both trouble. Funny, I steer clear of cars and cops when I am on my bike.

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  • dan Kearl November 18, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Why argue with with the police? They will always defend their officers. People need to complain to Sam Adams. He has come across as a friend of the bike community although I haven’t seen any evidence that
    he will do anything to help the bike community after he gets their vote.

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  • mac November 18, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Dear Herr Schmautz,

    It is impossible to have a “respectful dialogue” when one party to that dialogue has a firearm, the proven institutional wherewithal to use it and entirely no fear of being held to account for that use.

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  • sven November 18, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    To paraphrase… “I am personally aware of several prior stories …. where it was eventually determined that the facts of an event differed dramatically from the original description of the event.”

    I highly recommend the PPB review the official commentary on the Chasse case, among others.

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  • Joe November 18, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Sergeant Brian Schmautz doubts whether we’ve had encounters with a police officer before.. I certainly have and I would venture to guess that most on this forum have encountered a PPB officer at one point or another. Sure, I’ve had some positive experiences, but it’s not a stretch, by any means of the imagination, to believe that the story relayed by Jonathan is true, given the few instances of police officer abuse of power and the general bias against bicyclists that pervades American culture.

    Given the number of witnesses, this isn’t a difficult he said/she said situation.. there were plenty of observers. I guess it takes a video camera recording to convince a PPB official that abuse has occurred.. oh just wait.. didn’t several officers beat someone in LA about 18 years ago and still get away with it? In cases like this (where a vulnerable population is being repeatedly victimized) and given the widespread evidence of repeated abuses of police power, I think the burden of proof should be on the officer giving the ticket. Unfortunately, the police have lost much of their credibility in the bicycling community as in most vulnerable communities where their abuse has hit home far too many times.

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  • joe November 18, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    look, we get it. cops can do whatever they want and there is no way of preventing it. as a citizen, you can spend a bunch of time fighting it, and, if you are lucky and have enough money to waste, you can beat the ticket. otherwise, welcome to bike education school or pay the fine.

    an old friend of mine from chicago says, “you can beat the case but you can’t beat the ride”.

    The only odd thing about this case to me is that it took officer pryce 20 min. to come up with his phoney citations. The cyclist in this situation is just lucky that he had others with him. if you irritate a cop when you are alone, it can be alot different. “The hard way”, indeed.

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  • Aaron November 19, 2008 at 12:22 am

    If we look at this from a psychological view it’s obvious.
    1) Nobody wants to piss off a cop (regardless of our vehicle). An individual witness reported that the cyclists made a ‘gesture’ to the cop. Now what would cause someone to incite an officer unless something important had happened (like being threatened).
    2) Why would a cop respond to a group of people just for making a ‘gesture’? If I did that I’d be in arguments with lots of people. It proves obviously that he had a beef from the beginning.
    His other statements show obvious lack of understanding about our relationship to PPB. I would say that a great many of us have had contact with at least one or two officers if not this particular one. I’ve had on more than one occasion been afraid for my safety BECAUSE of a police officer.
    I’ll see if I can contact PIO directly also.

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  • n8m November 19, 2008 at 1:04 am

    “Beginning with a premise that lacks factual complete information leads to uninformed decisions and does not improve the relationships required to create a safer society.”

    Well said, Sergeant Schmautz. Can we now see this principle applied amongst the PPB?

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  • Steven J November 19, 2008 at 3:44 am

    If you’ve ever been buzzed by a 3,000 lb guided (sometimes unguided) missile Sergeant Schmautz, you might understand why many of us here respond so passionately..and compassionately, to others in the same situation.
    It’s called PTSD.

    Perhaps you’ve never been buzzed on a bike,
    perhaps you have had a gun or knife pulled on you.
    perhaps someone close to has been attacked and you felt helpless.
    Perhaps the officer next to you has taken a bullet while you were spared?

    When someone takes a car and casually drives by inches from you, You get a keen sense that that driver is silently saying..”you don’t matter..your life is insignificant”
    You feel like a gun with a 2 ton bullet has just been pointed at you.

    All the time & investment of the privilege to drive a car, and yet you fail to recognize a riders necessity or passion to do the same.

    Every time you try and criticize us for having that passion you only fuel the drive to overcome the ignorance.

    Wake up and Smell the S*** your trying to shovel..the majority of folks that post here know just how fragile life is.
    And if I flip you off for taking my life so casually…. Consider yourself lucky..
    There’s A LOT of adrenaline that gets flowing in the situation.

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  • tyler November 19, 2008 at 6:54 am

    If you want to hold a police officer accountable in this town, the only way to do so is through the courts. You have the right to issue traffic citations to this officer, and you should probably do so to counter the unfair citations that this officer issued you. one guy ticketed a cop this past summer and the officer got convicted and had to pay a fine!

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  • Mitch Conner November 19, 2008 at 7:27 am

    A few thoughts here:

    I have never found an officer that wants to have a meaningful dialogue about cycling. However, I have encountered officers that bully riders just because they can. There’s no discussion unless you want to end up in the jail because you’ve irritated the officer.

    Bikers will respect the police and the justice system when some attempt is made to hold motor vehicular drivers responsible for the injury and death of cyclists. Currently, the police treat it like it’s nothing. That is the most disrespectful act of all.

    Don’t ask for our respect until your house is in order.

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  • Stumpy November 19, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I once “made a gesture” at a motorist for nearly killing me. He proceeded to brake hard trying to get me to smash into him and exit his truck yelling at me about “you people get killed all the time because you shouldn’t be out here”.

    The stench of booze on his breath nearly knocked me over. He could barely walk back to his car in straight line. This was about 11am on a weekday.

    From that time on I and smile, wave and give the “thumbs up” for great driving behavior. Seems to make them feel even worse in the long run and less immediately combative.

    Besides the finger is sooooo motorist don’t ya think?

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  • David A. November 19, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Are we not to question a police officer because he/she is wearing a badge? Can we not tell them they have done something improper? It was right to publish this story. If the PIO has something to add to the story, other than criticism that it was run, then let’s hear it.
    Anyone, including a Police Officer, should be big enough to admit when they have made a mistake. So far the PIO hasn’t said anything about the P.O. taking responsibility for the (alleged)dangerous situation he was involved in.

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  • Drewid November 19, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Sgt Schmautz perhaps has also has forgotten his “protect and serve” mission.

    The police work for us. We pay them to protect and serve.

    We are all for improving relationships with those we hire to serve and protect us.

    If the Sergeant wrote those comments in an effort to improve the relationships with the community he serves, I don’t think he succeeded.

    If my boss criticized my performance, and I responded the way Sergeant Schmautz did, I would be out of a job.

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  • N.I.K. November 19, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Chris: the “laws of physics vs. laws of man” argument doesn’t add up. If it did, then every instance where there exists something bigger, heavier, or otherwise more dangerous, the less big/heavy/dangerous party “loses” and all protective laws are made moot. I hear this far too frequently and it blows me away every time – do you give a free pass to the SUV driver who tailgates a compact car until they get out of the way? How about a big rig that cuts off a dump truck? This is the same sort of reasoning that’s used to justify robbery, rape, and other reprehensible acts of violence. If you agree with that reasoning, you’re better off living with the primates. Either move to the jungle where this sort of thing is readily accepted or get your head on straight, be civil, and join society.

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  • -b November 19, 2008 at 8:56 am

    i believe “drewid” makes a fine point.

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  • Moo November 19, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Might want to thank Ofc. Pryce’s training officer for his conduct…some things will never change because they just keep getting passed down the line.

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  • velo November 19, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Jonathan – keep up the good work and don’t let the PIO piddling objections silence you. Your standards of reporting would make any traditional journalist proud.

    PPB – you have an image problem and the onus is on you as a group to correct it. I fully understand the fact the news cycle is tough and you can’t always release information, but the fact remains that police are public servants we as citizens have every right to monitor you. I’d also like to mention, stop treating Taser’s as toys. They are a substitute for lethal force, use then ONLY when lethal force would be warranted, but a Taser will suffice. Stop using then as an all purpose weapon against those who you think can’t speak out. I recommend the standard of if you wouldn’t do it to a lawyer in front of a group of lawyers then you ought not do it.

    PIO – your attack on Jonathan’s credibility without citing specific instances of bias or sources is weak at best. Give us details and specifics and I’ll listen. I understand that the police have a hard job, but the PPB has a record of excessive use of force (James Chase, Rev. Phil Tasering, etc, etc) and unequal enforcement of the law (Sit-Lie, etc). Trust is earned and the PPB has often broken it, only years of exemplary conduct will remove this cloud.

    Cyclists – lets look out for each other. Educate about rights and responsibilities, encourage safe and legal riding. If you see a traffic stop of a cyclist stop and watch, take pictures and video if you can. The police must accept being observed assuming you are not intruding in a way that endangers others or inflames the situation. We have a right and a duty to engage in public monitoring.

    In Solidarity,
    velo

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  • anon. November 19, 2008 at 9:33 am

    The Sgt is incorrect in my case, I have had interactions with various police agencies ove the years, and that is why I said what I did- do not converse with police officers, but rather make a report to their agency- telling a cop that he did something wrong is sticking your finger in a fire.

    My interactions with the PPB include-

    1)reporting shots being fired in the house next to mine. The police said that they would not respond due to “danger to the officers”. What about the danger to those of us who live nest to the house where the shots were fired?

    2) Reporting a woman screaming bloody murder under my house (turned out she was being stabbed with cut glass by her boyfriend. Police response time was 45 minutes. The boyfriend had left and we had the woman bandaged by the time thehy showed up.

    3) Reported a hit and run. Female officer got my paper work (DL Ins, reg) and THOUROUGHLY checked mine (say five minutes) before reporting the car that had hit mine on the road.

    4) reported a guitar stolen, witnesses had seen the nearbood hood tweeker in my car, gave the officer the name and adress of the suspect, the officer REFUSED to walk across the street to interview the suspect.

    5) pumped gas at my local gas station and forgot my wallet, left car and walked home to get wallet (five minute walk) by the time I arrived at my house the officer was waiting on my doorstep (I had left my adress with the gas stattion attendent) to remind me that driving off w/o paying was a crime- to which I had said that I hadnt driven off (as I was on foot), which began a fifteen minute converstaion that ended in him giving me half an hour to pay the station. I opined that i would have already paid had he not been talking to me.

    6)reported frequent police cars speeding (no lights) down my street, asked that if they were on the way to an emergency that they have their lights on. They have stopped going down my street but the morning after I talked to the liason officer there was a ticket on my car. I paid it because I figured 50$ was worth my kids life.

    My esperiences show that they will not help an ordinary citizen, they have no interest in protecting anyone but companies, and they will not stick their neck out the slightest bit for anyone but another police officer. I do not look to them for help in any situation but the most dire, and even then I expect them to show up after the fact. I always keep my hands in plain site and move slowly, because although they rarely kill unarmed white people, James Chasse Jr. shows that they are not past it. I keep in mind that I am dealing with someone who could in all honesty kill me and get away with it on the grounds that they “felt threatened”.

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  • velo November 19, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Anon #66’s experiences are exactly why I do not trust the police one whit. They need to prioritize actual safety issues rather then abusing those who they think are defenseless. PPB – earn our trust.

    Maybe we should start lobbying the city council to slash the PPB’s funding so they will have just enough to deal with actual crime? Sort of a if you can’t play nice then you can’t play at all situation. I mean, the city could use the money for other things and it’s not like the PPB is making good use of it at the moment.

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  • ValkRaider November 19, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I have never been able to have reasonable discourse with someone who wears a gun and can make up reasons to charge me with a crime while receiving preferential treatment in the courts.

    Here we are, that whole “giving up Liberty for safety” thing, bites us in the tuckus.

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  • Velo Vanguard November 19, 2008 at 10:30 am
  • bobcycle November 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Look at it this way… These are college kids and they should receive extra credit for an educational experience.

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  • brodie November 19, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    So if there’s another side of the story… why didn’t we hear it?It’s not enough to say “well, this is biased” without providing any sort of an explanation of why this officer apparently harassed two cyclists. If anything, Schmautz’s response only solidified my feelings on the matter. Police routinely give their side of the story when they were in the right.

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  • CMyers November 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Shouldn’t Officer Pryce have pulled the cyclists over prior to passing them, assuming they were actually breaking the law? If he didn’t, then wasn’t he ignoring his duty as a sworn officer of the law? Clearly he had no intention of pulling the riders over since he was already passed them. But his ego got the best of him when he got called out for passing to close by the cyclist.
    What a joke! This whole thing makes me sick. I can’t believe that my tax dollars help fund this type of behavior.
    I must repeat myself just to pound the point home:
    If the Officer had just waited and extra 5 seconds to pass we wouldn’t be talking about this. No store on the web, no tickets, no gestures, no blog postings, etc… All he had to do was slow down!

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  • Christopher Lee November 19, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Police don’t get protection from “blanket statements”. You and your cronies break the laws that you are sworn to uphold and then expect protection like a private citizen? You are public figures employed by the people and ,like any other employee, are subject to the opinions of the people who hire you and the consequences that follow when you fail to fulfill the duties of your position.

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  • Nat November 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Aaron #54 – unfortunately I have to second that the police seem to frequently produce situations where the safety of innocent citizens is unnecessarily put in jeopardy. I have experienced such situations more than once even without counting the numerous cases where the officers are driving a patrol car.

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  • Bike Messenger November 20, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Am I to understand that the Cops refute the reported facts in this case? As I understand it.the cops will wait for the judgement of a traffic judge who will decided this case not on “Facts”,but the preponderance of the evidence.( I.E. what the cops say). Good luck. The system is rigged against those that would challenge a cops assertion of the facts. Sorry folks. Your screwed.

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  • jered bogli November 20, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Sgt. Schmautz,

    I would like to offer you my perspective on the “vitriol” of some of the comments on the bikeportland site. It dawned on me this morning that when I come home from work and my wife asks me how my day was, the first thing I say is “it was good nobody tried to kill me on my bike”. Part of riding a bike is being out in the elements and there is a certain amount of inherent risk, however to have distracted or disrespectful citizens put you life in danger because they simply can’t be bothered with your safety is disheartening. So, to have a member of the agency charged with protecting you come dangerously close to hitting you while riding your bike would understandably cause some “vitriol”.

    Obviously there is a judgement on what is “to close”, but as a cyclist if I feel threatened I will respond. The police are not citizens in the traditional sense, they should be held to a higher standard. They should know that they cyclist has just as much right to that lane on a street of that nature. If most of the citizens of this community understand that I would expect the Police to understand that. Also, if a officer gets some kind of rude gesture they should be mature enough to difuse the situation. Yes, stop your police car and have a discussion, know the cyclist will be angry (you would be angry too if you felt someone just threatened your life!!), but, as an officer, use the opportunity to say something like “Lets discuss this, please explain what I did to cause your anger…(officer listens patiently as wordy angry cyclists berate him, then responds simply and camly )Thanks for educating me about the amount of space a cyclist needs to feel safe on the road, after this conversation I can do a better job of protecting the citizens of Portland”. BOOM, you just won the hearts and minds of a group of cyclists who will tell their friends about how great the portland police are!

    Just an idea, the officer had the option to play good cop or bad cop (the cyclists had the same option to be fair…), the officer had the opportunity to be the “bigger man” and act with compassion and understanding, but squandered the opportunity. I’m not arguing right and wrong, I’m simply saying your guy turned a nonsituation into a situation – why – EGO is my guess – sad…

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  • Dave Evil November 20, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Weak defense!

    Bad cop! No doughnut!

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  • ValkRaider November 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Stereotypes exist for a reason.

    I wonder why so many people feel strongly about distrust of Police? Are we all criminals? Or have enough people been burned by the PPB to cause these kinds of reactions?

    You cannot change a stereotype by complaining about it. If Police want more respect, they need to give more respect.
    Remembering the whole time that they are armed and carry unfair legal advantages – which both tend to make people uneasy, so they might need to work harder than a regular person might.

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  • David Dean November 20, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Sgt. Schmautz, that’s not how it works. We have freedom of expression and we have the right, indeed the duty, to discuss and form an opinion on the matter. Boo to your call for censorship.

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  • peejay December 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Check out this song by Facing New York: cops on bikes

    This is totally off-topic, but it’ll put a smile on the face of anybody who’s been subjected to a police power trip.

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