Portland Police say they will bring back Traffic Division

Sign outside former Traffic Division headquarters in St. Johns. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“Great news! PPB is partially bringing back the Traffic Division!”

That was the opening line of an email sent to local media outlets this afternoon from the Portland Police Bureau’s public information officer.

After hearing rumors about this inside City Hall for a few weeks, it appears a deal has been struck to build back a special traffic law enforcement detail at the PPB.

You might recall that in late 2020, while protests against policing and racial injustice were still a nightly occurrence the PPB decided to dissolve their Traffic Division. Chief Chuck Lovell said it was due to budget cuts (both realized and threatened), but the commissioner-in-charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation at the time, Jo Ann Hardesty, said it was a political stunt by Lovell to curry public sympathy. The way Hardesty put it in an interview with BikePortland in February 2021, “We have not impacted traffic enforcement at all. Because any patrol officer can write a ticket.” Either way, it was one of the first major steps by PPB to establish a narrative that they were no longer able and/or willing to enforce traffic laws at traditional levels.

About six months after the Traffic Division was shut down, the PPB announced they would de-prioritize enforcement of many minor traffic violations. For about two years, the PPB has said they are down to only one full-time officer whose sole job is to enforce traffic laws.

Now, more than two years later, politics at Portland City Hall has shifted dramatically. New PBOT Commissioner Mingus Mapps and Mayor (and PPB Commissioner) Wheeler are much more comfortable and supportive of the PPB in general. Asked about traffic enforcement and the PPB in my interview with Mapps two months ago, he said, “I think the city needs to step up its traffic enforcement work. In the last five years, traffic deaths in Portland have roughly doubled. It’s not like our infrastructure has gotten dramatically worse during that time. Frankly, it’s not really even like, you know, the amount of car traffic on the roads has dramatically increased. What has increased or changed during this time is the fact that we got out of the business of traffic enforcement.”

“So you want more police on the street enforcing traffic laws?” I asked.

“Yeah. I think I can say that,” Mapps replied.

A more intentional focus on traffic citations by PPB officers would be combined with recent progress in non-police enforcement methods likes traffic calming and other community-based interventions. Portland transportation officials, including Mapps, have also recently promised to double the amount of automated enforcement cameras on Portland streets by the end of this year.

The PPB said today that Chief Lovell will share more details at a press conference Tuesday where he’ll announce a “partial return” of the Traffic Division.

Stay tuned for more details.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Hello dear Commenters,

Remember what I wrote a couple of weeks ago in my post A reminder on how to use our comments section?

Our comments sections are not Letters to the Editor, but they are also not a twitter feed. Fast take, back and forths, trying to one-up the other person are not a good use of Jonathan’s or my time.

Please take a few sentences to write what you want to say and then let others do the same.

ean
ean
11 months ago

this is ablist

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
11 months ago

Good idea. Stiff fines would make it very profitable for the city.

Cale
Cale
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Do we really need armed police to give out fines though?

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

This has been discussed many times here on similar topics.
Portland is averaging a shooting or murder every 3 days, If you were a police officer making $60,000 a year, would you get out of your car at Midnight in any part of this city to approach a car with no license plates who just ran a red light to give a ticket while unarmed?
If you would, they need the recruits…..

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

The only people who think this sort of thing is a good idea are those who would never do it themselves.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

Only to the extent that the folks they are pulling over are armed.

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

Just yesterday, a deputy sheriff in Wisconsin was shot and killed after responding to a drunk driving incident. Maybe you’d like to be an unarmed enforcer whose job is to confront drunk drivers or other violating traffic laws.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

I would just like to point out that the officer having a gun in that situation did not help.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

ust yesterday, a deputy sheriff in Wisconsin was shot and killed after responding to a drunk driving incident.

I’m assuming they were armed. In your example, how did having a gun help them exactly?

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

You want another example of a gun fight on the highway? In April an OSP trooper shot and killed a gun wielding assailant on I-5 who had been stopping traffic. Maybe that would be a better example of why traffic issues are not appropriately dealt with by unarmed enforcers.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

Maybe that would be a better example of why traffic issues are not appropriately dealt with by unarmed enforcers

Uh, is a ‘gun weilding assailant on 1-5 who had been stopping traffic’ a “traffic issue”?

Your example is police responding to someone who is armed doing something illegal around cars, not a traffic stop.

Look, I’m not one to defend Americans access to gun. The far-right police and the politicians they support make sure we are all in danger at all times, I’m just saying if someone wants to shoot a cop, they’re gonna do it.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

I would label “carjacking with a gun” not something I’d expect an unarmed traffic enforcer to deal with.

Parking enforcement and Portland Street Response do not have guns, it is not an extreme of an idea to consider other areas of enforcement and community involvement to also to be without a gun.

By having unarmed traffic enforcers, they can be more well trained in traffic laws while not going through all the expensive trainings and qualifications to carry a gun. Then, the police can be more specialized to respond to and handle situations where guns are involved, leading to reduced risk of gun misuse.

We are not going to make any progress on police accountability and reform by ignoring the systemic problems in policing and continuing with the status quo. Having armed militarized uniform officers approaching people encourages escalation from all parties and is the worst possible thing for community issues.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

I would label “carjacking with a gun” not something I’d expect an unarmed traffic enforcer to deal with.

Nor I, but when you pull someone over, sometimes you find something you didn’t expect, like a carjacking (or other crime in progress).

How does an unarmed officer deal with that possibility?

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The same as any other citizen. Ensure the safety of yourself and then call the police that are trained for scenarios like this.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

Personally, I handle this by not pulling people over. I would advise other citizens to do the same.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Reimer

“call the other police”

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Hi MOTRG, please accept a gentle suggestion from me. You are writing a lot of one line comments. Go for it and put your thoughts out there in a longer comment. You have an opinion you’ve thought about, write it up, send it out into the world!

PTB
PTB
11 months ago

Yeah, but he’s very good at these one liners. I enjoy almost all of MOTRG’s comments!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  PTB

Sure, I enjoy them in moderation also, he can be funny.

Question is, do you pay for your pleasure? Are you a subscriber? Maybe you are. It comes down to money. Maintaining good, readable comments sections isn’t free.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago

Yes I am a subscriber 🙂

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

Good for you! Thank you.

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Sometimes me just walking around can “find something I didn’t expect”, but me having a gun and legal immunity to use it wouldn’t improve anything.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

 how did having a gun help them exactly?

In this instance it didn’t, but in others it might.

You probably don’t read about every instance where someone didn’t murder the deputy because they were armed.

Middle o the road guy
Middle o the road guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

Yes.

alex
alex
11 months ago

Why? It seems like many other countries enforce traffic laws without guns, why not here?

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  alex

There are approximately 450 million guns in America. 450,000,000 guns!!!!!
Does that answer your question?

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

If the number of guns in those other countries that enforce traffic laws without guns isn’t 0, then the people who are capable and willing to shoot traffic enforcers are going to have guns regardless.

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  John

Are you working at or just quoting the NRA now?
That is exactly there argument against simple gun control laws…
The bad guys will always have guns, do nothing,
with the amount of guns in America, your little fantasy is amazing….
Until we figure out a way to get rid of them as Australia did, we have to have armed police unless you want to sign up for the force.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  John

Someone failed basic statistics.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  alex

We are not other countries and tha variables here are different.

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  alex

Other countries like France for instance have their police walking around the main tourist areas with M16’s and other Assault rifles.
Have you ever been to any airport in Europe?
This weird Fantasy that only American police are weaponized is ridiculous.
Only people who never travel anywhere would say that.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

This weird Fantasy that only American police are weaponized is ridiculous.

You’re talking about counter-terrorism police. These folks aren’t stopping you for pretty much any crime that isn’t a terror attack.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

I was in Barcelona when Catalonia was clamoring for independence. It was wild to see heavily armed police walking around with automatic weapons – something I’ve seldom seen in a US city.

Dave
Dave
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

Many of those traffic stops involve people wanted on warrants and other crimes. You’re putting people at risk by using unarmed traffic enforcement.

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  Cale

No, of course not. They’re turning the only knob they think they are allowed to turn, in a very politically motivated way (nothing has changed, why are they all of a sudden “coming back”? Why did they stop enforcing in the first place, and why is that reasoning not still relevant?). So, that’s what we’re going to get because the un-creative powers that be won’t try anything else.

Racer X
Racer X
11 months ago

What?!…I thought PPB / City Hall closed the Traffic Enforcement Division because the driver safety problem was solved in 2020?

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago

About time. This should never have happened. We have Wheeler, Hardesty, Rubio and Ryan to thank for the mayhem, increased deaths and injuries caused by their poor management and obsession with ideology over common sense. The understaffing of PPB by our elected leaders to such a degree that essential city services could not be provided. Terrible. It will take years to recover from their shortsightedness. A “partial return” may make a partial improvement. I’m not holding my breath.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Randi J

We have Wheeler, Hardesty, Rubio,

Lovell, the PPB, the PPA,

and Ryan to thank for the mayhem, increased deaths and injuries caused by their poor management and obsession with ideology over common sense.

Michael Mann
11 months ago

I was wondering…
After 2 very effective street racing stings in a 1-week period it was looking like PPB traffic enforcement was stepping up their game. And as this directly affects cyclists safety on the roads, I’m all for it.
And yes please to many more traffic cameras.

Clarissa G.
Clarissa G.
11 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Unfortunately, the local Portland “equity police” will soon be out in force screaming about how this will increase racism…both the cameras and the officers. We need to start strong public push back against those type of well-meaning but misguided voices in Portland.

Chicago’s “Race-Neutral” Traffic Cameras Ticket Black and Latino Drivers the Most — ProPublica

J_R
J_R
11 months ago
Reply to  Clarissa G.

The featured Chicago motorist in the ProPublica story had been cited for running 3 red lights and for speeding 8 times! Does anyone actually think those citations were because of his skin tone?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  J_R

There are people here who would argue that since an officer has to review the tickets from traffic cams, that yes, the citations were due to skin tone.

curly
curly
11 months ago

Chief Lovell,

How about a couple of East Precinct officers do a bike patrol along the I-205 path? I’ve spoken with some E. Precinct officers at a Gateway Green event who were enthusiastic about this concept.
In East Portland the MUP is critical infrastructure connecting all of East Portland to the rest of the city and we’ve lost the use of this facility. The neighborhoods would like it returned.

Regards,
East Portland

Mark Remy
Mark Remy
11 months ago
Reply to  curly

That is a great idea.

Me
Me
11 months ago
Reply to  curly

And Springwater!

David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  curly

Bring back the horsies!

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Please no. Bicycles would be fine.

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Comment of the Week as far as law enforcement goes. I don’t like getting personal, but Wheeler was an idiot for cutting the Mounted Patrol. They were great, positive and very approachable. Best public relations PPB had.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Extremely expensive, as well. Probably not the best use of our limited patrol resources?

It’s 2023, we don’t need police on horses.

https://www.koin.com/news/whats-next-for-ppbs-now-eliminated-mounted-patrol-unit/

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

From the article you provided……..

“We have lost the best community policing tool that we have in the police bureau,” he said.
The concept of community police includes having officers get out of their patrol cars and meet with residents and business owners in the neighborhoods they serve.

Ball said he’s never seen community policing work more successfully than when the MPU was out on patrol.
“You never see groups of kids, teenagers, college students, adults and seniors all clamor to go up to a police officer on a walking beat or a bike squad,” Ball said. “You never do. But every time the horses are out, people of every income, every skin color come up and talk with the officers and engage with them.”
Ball cited an example where a man in mental health crisis was hitting his head up against a brick wall. The man wasn’t responsive to officers on foot or in their police calls, “but when the horses showed up, this man who was harming himself, started petting the horses.”

Maybe we do need police on horses, they seem to have helped people in need.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

So you would be okay with the PPB eliminating 20 sworn officer positions so they can fund some horsies? Or are we going to GoFundMe the horsies so we don’t have to eliminate any positions from the budget?

David Hampsten
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

When you start to inquire how much the police pay for police cars, motorcycles, and armor, and deal with the repairs and depreciation, the highly durable (and living) horses start to look like a good deal for taxpayers.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Horses don’t eliminate anything that you mentioned and add millions of dollars to the annual budget.

Bicycles are MUCH cheaper to buy, maintain, and train people to use. Upkeep for a storage room pales in comparison to the cost of maintaining stables. Bicycles also don’t leave piles of bio waste behind.

Matt P
Matt P
11 months ago

Congrats PDX! After lobbing molotov cocktails at the police, you might get them to actually come back and do what they are paid to do.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
11 months ago
Reply to  Matt P

The whole city did that?

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago

In a just world, the money would go to improving streets and making them safer with traffic calming infrastructure.

But this is the Portland Police so I’d bet money that the revenue will go towards the overtime slush fund or some weapon of war Chokehold Chuck has been eying.

Clarissa G.
Clarissa G.
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

“Police hate” comments (overtime slush fund, Chokehold Chuck) like this really aren’t helpful to move our community to a safer place. Yes, police need to be held accountable and improve their performance (like most professions) but a civil society requires professional law enforcment.. Let’s work on reconciliation and moving forward not lobbing “verbal Molotov cocktails” against local law enforcement. The vast majority are important and helpful members of our community.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  Clarissa G.

“Police hate” comments (overtime slush fund, Chokehold Chuck) like this really aren’t helpful to move our community to a safer place

Well, we’ve tried the ‘ignore all the problems with PPB’ approach and that has led us to where we are now. I’m sorry, Chuck attacking and choking a 14-year old girl because she hurt his feelings is something that should stick with him the rest of his life. He shouldn’t be a cop much more the chief.

Yes, police need to be held accountable and improve their performance (like most professions) but a civil society requires professional law enforcment..

Yep, I agree. The crux of the issue is they aren’t held accountbale.

Let’s work on reconciliation and moving forward not lobbing “verbal Molotov cocktails” against local law enforcement.

Translation

“Lets stop trying to hold them accountable, it hurts their feelings and they don’t do their job when they have hurt feelings.”

It’s pretty sad that pointing out their graft is considered a ‘verbal molotov cocktail’ by you.

The vast majority are important and helpful members of our community.

The Portland Police HATE our community. It’s hard for me to imagine anyone saying this who has ever interacted with them. I’m a upper middle class white guy, I’m not even dealing with their racism or classism, and they still have treated me in a condescending or unhelpful way in every interaction I’ve had with them.

If you plant ice, you’re gonna harvest wind. The ‘hate’ is well justified.

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Just stop the “police HATE our community” talk already. I realize there are a lot of BP readers who support the ACAB view but I’m here to defend the other side of the story. I have a child in law enforcement & know dozens of Portland metro officers & OSP troopers. The broad brushed HATE comments of all law enforcement are becoming tiresome and do not reflect the majority view of Portland citizens.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago

Just stop the “police HATE our community” talk already.

Why would we stop talking about how they hate our community?

I realize there are a lot of BP readers who support the ACAB view but I’m here to defend the other side of the story. I have a child in law enforcement & know dozens of Portland metro officers & OSP troopers.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Look, I encourage you, go to your child, go to their friends, encourage them to speak out about the culture of violence and white supremacy in the police. I’d would love nothing more than some of these so called ‘good apples’ to start speaking out. Until I see it, I have to assume they are complicit.

city-lover
city-lover
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I loved it when they did traffic control for Sunday Parkways and Naked Bike Ride. They were helpful and in good spirits. I think many of the new recruits will do better. I’m hopeful.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago
Reply to  Clarissa G.

Amen. Our cycling community would be a much healthier place if Jonathan, Lisa, etc. focused their moderation time on disingenuous comments like what cc_rider posts. It’s toxic and undermines productive conversation.

Unfortunately those same sentiments have infected groups like Bike Loud, etc. There’s no reasonable bike activism in this town, it’s all hysterical culture war doomerism. How can we make any progress at all if there are people sitting in the peanut gallery ready to pounce with a “gotcha” and derail everything?

The 2020 wave peaked and rolled back. Time to fix the damage already.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  Dave Fronk

. Our cycling community would be a much healthier place if Jonathan, Lisa, etc. focused their moderation time on disingenuous comments like what cc_rider posts.

Are you under the impression that my comments aren’t sincere? They very much are.

I think my comments are very relevant to the conversation. There’s a legitimate discussion around how we should spend money derived from dangerous driving. Most (all) municipality’s use it to allow cops to buy new toys or weapons of war. If you want to engage on that topic, I’d love to discuss it more.

ow can we make any progress at all if there are people sitting in the peanut gallery ready to pounce with a “gotcha” and derail everything?

How can we make any progress at all when we just pretend that problems that have existed for 100 years just suddenly don’t?

The 2020 wave peaked and rolled back. Time to fix the damage already.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that. 2020 permanently changed how lots of people think of the police. I’ll be the first to admit that the police slowdown in Portland has done a good job of bringing back support for having officers on the street, but I disagree that it’s improved their image or made Portlanders support the police as a body more. Support for PPB at this point is like showing support in a hostage situation so your captors don’t kill you.

I’m not a kid and before 2020 I was a ‘police can probably be reformed’ type of guy. I’m not and none of my 30-40s adult friends are either.

dwk
dwk
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

This is such a straw man,,, What kind of infrastructure prevents a car running a stop sign and killing me on my bike?
I have so many close calls riding on the side streets in this city because cars simply roll through and run stop signs.
They do it because the odds of even having a patrol car in my neighborhood is about Zero…
I don’t even know what kind of “traffic calming” infrastructure you are talking about that prevents cars from running stop signs, running red lights, speeding and driving drunk.
I guess you might put a traffic circle in every intersection and planters etc. but the city just removed that kind of barrier on 7th and supposedly brought that intersection up to the new “standards”.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Lots of infrastrucuture can help you avoid getting hit in an intersection. Traffic cameras that detect non-compliance with the stop sign, curb extensions, and speed bumps at the intersection are all things that encourage compliance with a stop sign. Traffic diverters placed in neighborhoods would also discourage through traffic which is where a lot of stop sign running comes from.

They do it because the odds of even having a patrol car in my neighborhood is about Zero…

I’ve lived in a couple large metros and two small towns and I’ve never seen any police force that does meaingful traffic enforcement in neighborhoods. Even before the PPB slowdown, you’d have to beg and beg to get them to come out and do an hour of enforcement.

PPB doesn’t value safe streets. They speed and play on their phones/computers while driving. They routinely fail to turn on their headlights in low-viz conditions. They aren’t going to make your neighborhood safe.

Even in places I’ve lived with large police forces, the majority of people drive dangerously. Go visit NYC, which has a ton of police, and you’ll see people blow through stop signs.

The license plate-less cars blowing through stop signs/lights are egregious and should be dealt with, but the majority of the real danger comes from the complacent masses who drive dangerously as a rule and consider traffic citations as a cost of doing what they want.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

also raised crosswalks which were supposed to be a key part of portland’s now defunct vision zero plan. so many fake plans in this city that does not work….

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

The city has failed at that.

Atreus
Atreus
11 months ago

Like many, I used to be opposed to traffic police because of they way they would use traffic enforcement as an excuse for racial profiling, searching cars for drugs, etc. But the near-total lack of traffic enforcement over the last few years have changed my mind, since it has led to rampant lawless, reckless, destructive behavior by so many drivers. Once the word gets out that there are no consequences to something, people start taking advantage of that. So now I support the return of the traffic division, though I certainly hope we can make sure to have the right rules and policies in place to keep them focused on the most deadly kinds of traffic behaviors and not use it as an excuse for bad behavior on the part of the police.

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago

Yep shows the dangers of “jumping on the bandwagon” of post-Floyd actions taken WITHOUT thinking about the consequences of such actions. We are now paying the price…and only taking baby steps to fix the problems we created.

Randi J
Randi J
11 months ago

There you go. You and many others here said we need “police alternatives” with zero idea how this would actually work in the real world. Then we de-emphasized enforcement without any replacement. Yes we talked about fixing “root causes”, sent a few million taxpayer dollars to unproven nonprofits and bought some plastic traffic barrels— that was pretty much it.
Let’s be frank criminals (and even many regular old Portland drivers) need consequences TODAY to adhere to our social contract. Reaching for an improved “system” a generation or two in the future while laudable is not enough.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago

There is nothing stopping us from focusing on root causes right now. Talk to your elected officials if you think we need to move faster on this. I have.

In the meantime, we’re going to need multiple of generations of root cause focus alongside policing before we can start defunding the cops. Even Europe, which is much more root causes focused than we are, still has plenty of crime (and plenty of police), so it may take even longer than that.

I keep voting to spend money on addressing root causes, and I haven’t seen much progress. It seems to end up in a black hole.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

IMHO, the “root cause” is the PPB and PPA. The fact that many Americans are (rightly) critical of the various PD’s around the country is a symptom of it.

Re: Europe, how much crime is committed by the “plenty of police” there? The amount of crime (murder, excessive force, racism racial profiling) committed by the police in this country is the problem.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

the “root cause” is the PPB and PPA

I disagree (and I’m also critical of the police), but let’s say you’re right. We’ve been seeing what happens when there are too few police; how do we maintain order when there are none?

Regarding police corruption elsewhere, as someone who has lived overseas, I know that problems elsewhere are much more pronounced than what you see from back here in America. Anyone who’s lived abroad will tell you the same.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

 We’ve been seeing what happens when there are too few police; how do we maintain order when there are none?

It’s not a “bad police or no police” dichotomy. I’m not advocating for no police; I’m advocating for BETTER policing. Eliminate “Qualified Immunity,” hold murderous police officers accountable and put them in prison, stop criminalizing poverty and drug addiction/use, reform the training programs that surround appropriate use of force, stuff like that.

Your point about police elsewhere (though I wasn’t talking about “corruption”) is fair. I have a total of 0 time spent in any other country. Sincere questions: Do they send armed officers to address a mental health break? Do no-knock warrants happen? Not knowing my rights as they apply in a different country, is illegal search and seizure a concern? How about “Excited Delirium?”

These are things that Police in the U.S. use frequently in order to justify excessive force, often ending with someone’s death.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

“I’m advocating for BETTER policing”.

Good. I want better policing too. If you want our laws changed (to no longer outlaw poverty, for example, if that were really a thing), that’s the legislature, not the police, but we agree that murderous cops belong in prison.

Every country does things differently, but in Europe for example, they generally have much better mental health care, so cops don’t have to deal with mental health issues as often. Our system is a disgrace in that regard, and money seems unable to fix it. Other places (not Europe), the cops deal with difficult people by murdering them, sometimes quite deliberately.

I can’t answer your question about search and seizure or warrants, but the law is different everywhere. A lot of places cops can just search you. As a foreigner, I generally assume I have no rights, and I try to comport myself well, so aside from dealing with security officials trying to extract a bribe, I have very little personal experience in this area.

I would love to learn more about how you would migrate us to a police force that would somehow be immune from the problems that seem nearly universal here. Better yet, share your ideas with your political representatives who can actually do something about it.

My dream situation is that people would stop victimizing one another, so we could significantly reduce our police force, but unfortunately that hope seems in vain.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I would love to learn more about how you would migrate us to a police force that would somehow be immune from the problems that seem nearly universal here.

Being someone who isn’t tapped into the bureaucracy surrounding this, I can’t really expand on how to implement

Eliminate “Qualified Immunity,” hold murderous police officers accountable and put them in prison, stop criminalizing poverty and drug addiction/use, reform the training programs that surround appropriate use of force, stuff like that.

I personally think the first and last items would make a huge impact on how the public views the police.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Commenting to add: The PPA could do quite a bit to eliminate the “Omerta-like” mindset pervasive in many PD’s and police unions. The Police in this country seems to view the citizenry as enemies, not allies.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Plenty of citizens, including some right here on this forum, behave like enemies.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Considering the first “police,” slave patrols, were enacted to keep “undesirables” in line, it seems to me the chicken came before the egg.

Perhaps my understanding of qualified immunity is incomplete, but why should the city need to insure murderers? It generally only comes into play when someone has been shot or killed by an officer. I can’t predict what the outcome would be from eliminating it, since we’ve never done it. I’ll bet the PPA can, though. Additionally, when the preeminent use-of-force training organization for police officers was literally called Killology (now The [Dave] Grossman Academy), the application of force needs to be addressed.

I think we agree on several of the “root causes,” and disagree on their applications/solutions.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

Qualified immunity is a bit of a red herring in my opinion; if we withdraw it, the city will end up buying insurance for its officers, directly or indirectly, and the end result will be the same.

As for training, I would absolutely support any reasonable reform that had a chance of working. Personally, I don’t think it’s a question of training as much as putting people in inherently confrontational situations where they can’t really back down. If someone refuses to comply with an officer, they don’t really have an option of saying “okay well then be on your way”. It’s a hugely complex human interaction problem.

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

100% agree with your last paragraph describing your dream situation. I wish that hope was not in vain!

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  Ray

A quick google search brings up some info you were looking for…

https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/04/25/france-pension-protests-police-violence-macron-europe/

If you think that American police are unusually barbaric I suggest you live in a foreign country for a little bit away from the resort areas. You might broaden your horizons as well as see that a lot of the American only problems aren’t just American problems.

Ray
Ray
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

So, French police are possibly as bad as (though not necessarily worse than) American police when dealing with protesters…noted. I’m not concerned with Europe, and I didn’t bring it into the discussion…I’m not in France, nor will I likely ever be. It does seem that Macron is pretty friendly to the corporate/capitalist centers, which draws parallels to our leaders politicians.

You could change names of countries, people, and organizations, along with some dates and this could have been published in the Oregonian in September of 2020.

I’ll concede that there are other, more authoritarian, countries whose police forces are more violent and fearsome. That doesn’t make it okay.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

The USA has a uniquely high rate of homicides by police among affluent nations.

comment image

And France and most European nations have rates of police killings that are a fraction of US levels. Nations where police don’t carry firearms not surprisingly have a rate that is close to or at zero.

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Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

How much of that death rate do you think can be attributed to the fact that a huge number of citizens are armed or potentially armed? The presence or potential presence of a gun in almost every interaction raises the stakes considerably and makes mistakes much more likely to be deadly.

You can’t really compare us to, say, Japan, which has effectively zero guns as well as a culture of deferring to authority.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Exactly. Just look up the gun death rates and murder rates in “developed countries” and you will see the US dominating that list as well. We live in a very violent, weapon-filled nation.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yes we do and it is a constitutional right to own a weapon – that is not going away.

We have no interest in resolving the core issues – poverty and education – so what tools do we have otherwise?

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

they way they would use traffic enforcement as an excuse for racial profiling, searching cars for drugs, etc. 

Just curious how you feel about this: Let’s say there is a guy the cops are pretty sure is selling guns, but don’t yet have enough evidence for an arrest. The cops think he is on his way to make a sale when he rolls through a stop sign. How do you feel about the police using the traffic violation to pull him over so they can see if he may have left the gun in view?

In this case, blowing the stop sign is a totally legitimate basis for a stop and a ticket, but the cops are primarily motivated by the desire to look into the car to see if they can find enough solid evidence of gun dealing to make an arrest.

In this context, is the stop wrong? Should they ignore the violation? Should they issue a ticket but not peer down into the car, or engage the suspect in a conversation that might yield some evidence?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Should have stopped.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Let’s say there is a guy the cops are pretty sure is selling guns, but don’t yet have enough evidence for an arrest. The cops think he is on his way to make a sale when he rolls through a stop sign. How do you feel about the police using the traffic violation to pull him over so they can see if he may have left the gun in view?

Why not just pass a law that cops can pull people over for anyone reason including no reason at all instead of codifying a practice that has shown to be discriminatory.

The year the GVRT was audited, they made an arrest like 2% of the time they made a stop. At some point its just straight up harassment.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Why not just pass a law that cops can pull people over for anyone reason including no reason at all 

Because, I suspect, that would be unconstitutional (and it wouldn’t help the underlying issue with stops).

Personally, I don’t presume that unless an arrest is made, harassment has occurred. In my example, the police may have been right about everything, but the driver kept his gun under a towel, so no action besides issuing a ticket could be taken. That doesn’t make the stop harassment — in my example, he was breaking the law, so the stop was completely legitimate on those grounds alone.

We want people not stopping at stop signs to be ticketed, right? That alone presents a danger to the surrounding community.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Because, I suspect, that would be unconstitutional (and it wouldn’t help the underlying issue with stops).

So if pre-textual stops are a flimsy execuse to violate someones constitutional rights, perhaps we shouldn’t engage in them.

Personally, I don’t presume that unless an arrest is made, harassment has occurred. In my example, the police may have been right about everything, but the driver kept his gun under a towel, so no action besides issuing a ticket could be taken. That doesn’t make the stop harassment — in my example, he was breaking the law, so the stop was completely legitimate on those grounds alone.

Is there any reason to think that your completely made up scenario happens very often? It’s kind of an ‘are the cops incompetent or do they want to just harass Black people’ thing.

If the working theory is that the cops are going to use a pre-textual stop hoping to see something illegal, and that is working 1-2% of the time, that sounds like an egregious waste of tax payer money and poorly thought out tactic.

We want people not stopping at stop signs to be ticketed, right? That alone presents a danger to the surrounding community.

Sure! I’d love for the police to actually care about traffic enforcement rather than use it as a tool to harass people

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

So if pre-textual stops are a flimsy execuse to violate someones constitutional rights, perhaps we shouldn’t engage in them.

You don’t have a constitutional right to roll a stop sign if the cop who sees you thinks you might be up to something worse.

We’ve seen what happens to gun violence when we roll back enforcement efforts. Luckily, I don’t live in the most heavily impacted communities, but for those who do, it’s been a pretty rough couple of years.

Personally, I think those who do live there should have the loudest voice over how they are policed. Perhaps we can agree on that.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You don’t have a constitutional right to roll a stop sign if the cop who sees you thinks you might be up to something worse.

Sure, and police observe hundreds of moving violations a day without lifting a finger. I want my traffic enforcement to be about safety, not finding excuses to harass Black men.

We’ve seen what happens to gun violence when we roll back enforcement efforts

I’m not in agreement with you there. The GVRT was ineffective and our resulting gun violence/gang problem is a direct result of investing in ineffective gun violence prevention. Police generally have no effect on gun violence or gang activity.

Personally, I think those who do live there should have the loudest voice over how they are policed. Perhaps we can agree on that.

Just like my roads, we all live in this city. The PPB mismanaging gun violence in east Portland will spill into my neighborhood. We don’t live in a bubble. We should employ evidence based practices, which unfortunately the gang squad is not one of.

John
John
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Exactly. That kind of reasoning is the same exact argument the cops made against legalizing weed. Oh, we can’t use it as a literal pretext to get people on some other more serious crime. So we should just forever keep a harmless drug illegal and ruin people’s lives (and arbitrarily allow a different, actually more harmful drug to be freely consumed) because it’s a weird entry point to allow cops to rummage around in your car and fish for other things to get you on. This was something they actually said, publicly, in the voting pamphlet.

Why not make driving while black officially criminalized, as sometimes when a cop pulls over a black guy they might find a kidnapped child in the back seat? Why not? Makes as much sense and has just as much justification as using cops to do what a camera can do.

Fred
Fred
11 months ago

The old rule of “No cop, no stop” applies universally. Cyclists know better than anyone that Portland needs the Traffic Division! Looking forward to seeing them back on our streets.

Middle o the road guy
Middle o the road guy
11 months ago

A lot of people with arrest warrants are going to get popped and hopefully a lot of stolen vehicles will be found.

Dave Fronk
Dave Fronk
11 months ago

It’s been interesting to see how the recent retail theft stings have turned up people wanted for other things, including vehicle theft and most recently…. homicide:

https://www.kptv.com/2023/05/08/homicide-suspect-7-others-arrested-e-portland-retail-theft-mission/

It’s pretty obvious to me that all this stuff is connected. A large-scale, comprehensive change towards crime is needed ASAP.

Josh G
Josh G
11 months ago

Coming up on 6 months since a car took out the speed camera on Marine Dr. Why so hard to replace?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  Josh G

PBOT simply does not prioritize traffic safety and their reluctance to install speed cameras and replace them is just another example of this.

Johnny Bye Carter
Johnny Bye Carter
11 months ago

It sounds like deaths from traffic stops are acceptable to them now in order to get some violators off the roads.

No? Because I didn’t see anything in any of the press releases stating how they’ve improved their policing to the point where anything will be different than before.

Quite the contrary, we’re hearing reports that they’re still using excessive force after being scolded multiple times by the government to stop.

We complained about them, so they shut down. Instead of playing fair they took their ball and went home. Now they think we’ll welcome the same poo-poo heads back? No, we don’t want the PPB traffic division to return, we want a NEW traffic division that will do their jobs without unneeded killing. They’re not listening and we’re still peeved off about it.

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago

I don’t think there is going to be a “new” traffic division nor do I think there will be a improved PPB since people don’t seem to understand that an organization’s culture comes from within. Until the complainers start joining the PPB and become the change they want to see in the organization then nothing is really going to change. I truly don’t understand why more progressives and anti-racists aren’t signing up to to be the change from within. I get that it’s a lot easier to complain and be outraged when nothing changes, but there is a way to change it and it starts with individuals willing to engage in some true public service.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Does change come from within or does change come from the top down? My experience is the latter. Without top down change a new recruit must either assimilate into the current culture, or quit

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

There clearly has not been nor does it seem likely there will be the top down change you are waiting for. To actually get a positive change the organization can and will change from within if there are enough people willing to change. To get those people willing to change the new recruits just have to show a little intestinal fortitude and stand up for their values. In my early army career I was a tanker when there were zero females and the culture reflected that. When the position became available to females the ones who joined were not ordered to. It was not top down. The armor corp had never had females and yet the female volunteers were mentally strong and by their fortitude have changed the culture for the better. This is what is needed, not a surrender before the struggle has even started by saying “its too hard”.

cc_rider
cc_rider
11 months ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Until the complainers start joining the PPB and become the change they want to see in the organization then nothing is really going to change. I truly don’t understand why more progressives and anti-racists aren’t signing up to to be the change from within.

Assuming that you’re being sincere, the biggest reason is that most progressive people don’t want to harm their community. Even without the toxicity of the cops, you’d have to be down to be a foot soldier in the prison industrial complex and the school to prison pipeline.

Secondly, PPB have control over who they hire. They aren’t going to hire people who aren’t going to fall in line.

Thirdly, entry level employees aren’t changing anything and people who don’t fall in line and become complicit aren’t getting promoted to a level where they have influence on control.

jakeco969
jakeco969
11 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I am sincere about this. Entry level officers are the ones most likely to be interacting with the public. Do you think that treating the people they meet with humanity and respect isn’t going to be a positive for the community? You’re still thinking top down with the statement about being promoted to have control. All the interactions a street officer makes that are positive, fair and respectful without violence improves the PPB one step at a time. I honestly don’t know why you are against that other than you dont want to put the work in.
As far as harming the community, if you simply uphold the law you’re only helping the community and are able to mentor at risk youth so they can avoid the school to prison pipeline.

John
John
11 months ago

This is exactly it and it’s so frustrating that their game seems to have worked. It was along the lines of “Oh, you want us to do better, make some reforms, improve things? How about instead no, we do nothing and go home and see how you like it”, followed by waiting for the inevitable public outcry as lack of enforcement causes obvious problems and a wave of people take that in and somehow just believe that naturally this means we should have never been critical in the first place. A complete blind spot for the dirty game the police have played here.

And since it was mentioned in a sibling comment, no, joining the police to “be the change you want to see” is no solution. I have no doubt that many of the people who join the police have entirely good intentions and maybe some even have generally progressive views. It is not the individuals within the institution that cause the problems we see, it is the institution. It’s what it is empowered and expected to do. It’s the jobs we have them do that they are ill suited for. To take an extreme example, nobody (ok, there are exceptions) would think it appropriate to have armed police be put into service bolstering our teachers in classrooms teaching high school. Or working in daycares. Those are weird extreme examples but the point should be understood that there are many things police are ill suited for and just because you can imagine them doing a job, or even because they used to do a job that they shouldn’t have, doesn’t make it right.

That’s not to say they are never needed (or something like them, but we’ll leave that for now). Heck, I’ll even agree there are situations that are “traffic adjacent” where they would be a needed last resort. But they’re not used as the last resort, they’re the first and only responders to every situation (when they’re actually doing their job). They’re used as this catch-all to fill in all the gaps we have in our society at the edges.

I don’t know, rant over. Just saying I agree.

Watts
Watts
11 months ago
Reply to  John

“it’s so frustrating that their game seems to have worked”

On a political level, I think we would all agree that the public has a much stronger support for the police than they did a few years ago. Reformers did not capitalize on the huge level of support and momentum they had coming out of the George Floyd protests, and it seems likely that the police will have a stronger hand moving forward as the pendulum swings back in their direction.

We do now have Street Response, which I see as an entirely positive development, but that is just a drop in the bucket, dealing with the lowest hanging fruit.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
11 months ago

Best news I’ve read all day! Thanks Mapps for doing what our mayor wasn’t able to do on his own

Dan B
Dan B
11 months ago

Police in general are upset that they do not get kudo’s for abusing the same people that pay their salaries. They already get to use creative writing when filing reports, and physically jostle drivers while screaming “Don’t resist!” Boo-hoo they should be required to follow laws over feelings and earn their paychecks even when they haven’t earned the pubic’s respect.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Dan B

Which cops told you that?

Harry Lime
Harry Lime
11 months ago

Two things that Portlanders never seem to want to talk about, and until they do the problem will just continue:

* Most traffic deaths are homeless dudes who are staggering in the street in dark clothes at night.

* Most shooting deaths are gang members, typically under the age of 25.

Gasper
11 months ago

What were the realized (not threatened) budget cuts? My understanding is that they have claimed they had less money so they weren’t working as much, but in fact they had pay increases.

Chris I
Chris I
11 months ago
Reply to  Gasper

They lost a huge number of employees over the past few years and were chronically understaffed. You can talk about funded budgets all day long, but the number of officers per capita is the critical figure that drives response times and programs like the traffic division.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2022/09/28/portland-ranks-48th-among-50-big-cities-for-cops-per-capita/

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

And when it comes to resource management and efficiency, the relationship is not always linear. Past a certain staffing level, performance can deteriorate at a faster rate than the resource attrition.

ean
ean
11 months ago

we dont need more cops. we need speed and sound cameras.