Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 18th, 2008 at 3:04 pm
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
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.