Black Lives Matter

Published 2016-07-07

Dear Mayor Hales and Respected Commissioners,

I am disturbed by the recent deaths of Black citizens at the hands of the police elsewhere in America. I want to ensure that Portland will be better than this. This is especially sensitive for our city, where police oversight was lacking until 2012, prompted by several deaths of mentally ill citizens while in police custody. And of course we now have Larry O’Dea’s shooting-and-coverup scandal.

I’m worried that the inclination of our police bureau, when an incident happens, is to close ranks and shutter daylight into its operations.

I expect that our police will be better. I expect that as public employees they will operate in plain view to the public who relies upon them and pays their salaries.

To that end I urge you all to support greater citizen oversight of police activities. I will support politicians who make this a core issue and speak out on it. I want to see momentum on basic reform practices:

  • Decriminalize “broken windows” infractions like public intoxication
  • Rely on social service interventions before police action
  • Increase neighborhood policing and get officers out of cars
  • De-militarize community officers
  • Strictly adhere to the letter of the Fourth Amendment and ban personal searches without a warrant
  • Compel testimony from police officers immediately after an incident
  • Employ body cameras
  • Strengthen and promote the Independent Police Review Division and the Citizen Review Committee

For Mayor Hales in particular, as an outgoing mayor you have the unique opportunity to make controversial public statements on this vital issue.

Thank you for your attention


Paul Souders
SE Portland