June 10, 2013
Working in Good Faith
Ever since the U.S. Department of Justice issued its proposed settlement agreement, the Portland Police Association has been supportive of improved policing practices as long as our members’ rights are protected. The policy changes can and should be enacted in a way that protects the community as well as the officers who serve them. We made every reasonable attempt to resolve our differences through our mediation with the City and Department of Justice.
Unfortunately, the parties were unable to resolve our differences. That failure however was not due to lack of effort by the Portland Police Association. We have spent countless hours working in good faith with the other parties to resolve our collective bargaining concerns in a manner that would have ensured the prompt and extremely cost effective implementation of policy changes. Our collective bargaining concerns are not insignificant. They were focused on officer safety, workload issues, and training concerns, that until fully satisfied prevent us from lending our unconditional support to the settlement agreement.
Although mediation process has failed, we will continue to work diligently toward a resolution that allows our members to confidently support policy changes that do not jeopardize officer safety and the rights of officers as they perform their duties. This settlement agreement cannot be successful without the full support of the officers who must operate under the new policies and practices.
The City and the Department of Justice must set aside their differences with us, and in good faith work to a resolution that improves policing services without sacrificing our members’ rights. Until the parties come to a resolution, everyone suffers… the community, the City, the Police Bureau, and the rank and file police officers who serve the City of Portland and its communities.
May 3, 2013
A Guide to Internal Affairs Statements
For the past twelve years, I have been involved in representing officers in providing statements to Internal Affairs. So, I’d like to provide a guide for officers who are requested to give statements as either the suspect officer or witness in Internal Investigations.
When you are first notified by an investigator that they are requesting a statement, you receive an e-mail and directions to contact the investigator. At this point, you should contact me, Tom, or your PPA representative and speak to us regarding the specifics of the incident. The best way to contact us is by phone. Our numbers are on the PPA website along with contact numbers for all the PPA union reps. If we don’t answer leave a voicemail with your name, best time to reach you, your phone number, and a brief summary of the incident.
Next, coordinate a time with your PPA rep to discuss the incident and provide the representative with the case number of the incident so that they can research the case prior to meeting with you.
Prior to your interview at the Internal Affairs Division the investigator in charge of your case will provide you with all relevant documents, reports, memos, audio, and video recordings for your review prior to being interviewed. The investigator will also provide you with a Garrity Warning, which is read verbally to you just before providing your statement to the investigator. The Garrity Warning states that you are compelled to provide a statement as a condition of your employment. The statement can only be used against you in internal proceedings and cannot be used against you in criminal cases, except in the case of perjury.
Before your interview, your PPA representative should give you an overview on what would be expected and provide you with some dos and don’ts in answering questions. Think of a statement as giving testimony in court or providing a deposition in a lawsuit.
After you give the investigator a short summary of the incident and you involvement the investigator will ask you specific questions regarding the case. When an investigator asks a question, let them fully complete the question and pause while you think about your answer. This gives you the opportunity to respond clearly and concisely. If you do not understand the question, have the investigator repeat or rephrase it. If an investigator asks a multiple part question that can be answered in multiple ways, have them break it down into single questions.
A key point is to answer only the question asked. If a question can completely be answered by yes or no, this is encouraged. If you truly do not remember or do not know the answer, they are also very acceptable answers. Never speculate; if you are not sure, do not answer a question by speculation. In addition, if you have sufficiently provided an answer there is no need to expound or elaborate on the answer. The goal is to provide a complete, clear, and concise short answer.
Remember, it is the investigator’s job to ask you the proper question and it is your job to answer the question asked truthfully.
All statements taken in an Internal Affairs interview are tape recorded by the investigator.
As your interview ends, the investigator will ask you if there is anything you want to add to your statements. This is when you may include any mitigating factors or point out any discrepancies or inaccuracies that you felt were presented during your interview.
Once the interview is concluded the investigator will write their summary, have the recording transcribed, and forward all materials to their command staff for review.
One thing that I want all of you to remember NEVER, EVER go to IAD to be interviewed as a witness or a suspect without PPA representation!
March 28, 2013
Unions Blamed for Everything from a Bad Economy to an Ineffective Legislature
It’s no coincidence that many Americans now believe that unions are the problem, with a direct, active and well-funded campaign to convince them of that. We’re now seeing just how effective that campaign has been, as public employees bearing the burden and blame for failures of government to properly fund pension and health funds during times of fiscal prosperity while private institutions gambled away the very foundation of our economic system. The union bashing campaign is being orchestrated by a sophisticated group that understands how the media, in print, television and the internet play a role in promoting the government’s agenda.
Last year’s battle between public-sector unions and Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, has set the ground work for the battle we are poised to fight in Oregon. Walker’s agenda was to take away public-sector employees collective bargaining rights. We must remember the important role unions have played in our country over the last century. Unions have advocated for fair wages, benefits, and pensions for working all Americans, in the middle and lower classes. The next time you hear someone complaining about unions, ask them what they did on their last paid vacation. Then remind them that they have a paid vacation, a five-day work week, health benefits and safe working conditions only because unions fought for and won them for everybody. Unions have continued to fight for fair pay, workplace safety, paid vacation and sick leave for those who have no leverage to acquire those things on their own
Union’s advocacy for its members is an ongoing battle and with the support of its members is a battle that will be won!
Again, the PPA wants to thank you for your support as we’ve faced a wide range of issues in the past year and as we continue to meet those challenges head on. You, our members are the base of our strength and we recognize that as we continue to move forward. Take care of each other out there and we will be there when you need us.
Moving Forward on the Motion to Intervene
On February 19, 2013, United States District Court Judge Michael Simon granted the PPA’s Motion to Intervene in the lawsuit brought by the United States Department of Justice against the City of Portland, which alleges that Portland Police Officers have engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the constitutional rights of individuals with actual or perceived mental illnesses. The Judge specifically ruled that the PPA is to become a party to any remedy that the USDOJ and City of Portland may seek to implement that would address the United States’ constitutional claims.
This victory is important to our members because we believe that the Proposed Settlement Agreement between the USDOJ and City contains provisions that would seriously undermine our members’ collective bargaining rights. Those rights include officer safety, discipline standards, workload issues, and compensation. For example, the PPA believes that any changes to the PPB’s Use of Force and Taser policies implicate significant officer safety and discipline issues.
Yesterday, Chief Reese circulated ”final drafts” of the PPB’s new Use of Force and Taser polices as part of the PPB’s implementation of USDOJ reforms. Please be clear that the PPA has not been a party to nor have we agreed to these “final drafts” that the PPB has issued! The PPA’s input regarding these policies has been continuously ignored by the PPB, and Chief Reese’s assertion that the policies are a collaborative effort is incorrect. The PPA has sought and will continue to seek changes to the PPB’s versions of the policies, which are fundamentally flawed and will place officers at a safety risk and at risk for baseless discipline.
Although this dispute has been legally complex, the underlying motivation of the PPA has always remained clear. The PPA will fight to ensure that its members’ collective bargaining rights are upheld. We will keep you informed as this matter unfolds.
By Daryl Turner, President PPA
With the continued public disclosure of the personal information, it has become necessary for all law enforcement officers to protect their privacy online. The increasing use of social networking is one of the leading culprits of unintentional data exposure. The desire to connect with family and friends through these services, has individuals are disclosing private information to third parties without fully knowing the recipients of such data. Furthermore, the disclosure of personal information through social networking leaves individuals open to certain forms of computer based attacks. Social networking also provides a significant amount of information including pictures, employment history, family relationships, hobbies, and patterns of life.
Even before the social media boom, Portland Police Officers have had personal information released on the internet subjecting them to threats, telephone harassment, and even surveillance of their residences. The relative ease in which individuals are able to obtain your personal identifying information is a threat to you and your families. Therefore, it is important for you as law enforcement officers to take all necessary precautions to protect your personal information.
It has been a challenging year for the PPA
Among the many critical issues facing the PPA this year, our goal was to become more fiscally sound while still providing the highest quality of service. One of the major steps was to join the PORAC Legal Defense Fund. PORAC gives our members a broader range of legal defense in a manner that assures us of no financial limitations when it comes to your legal defense.
Now, we wait for the dust to settle on the USDOJ agreement with the City of Portland which potentially brings critical policy changes. We prepare for contract negotiations with the City. We welcome two new leaders to City Hall. We have hopes of establishing a strong working relationship that will benefit the citizens of Portland as we move into the future. We continue to work on your behalf.
There were many other matters that transpired as the PPA maintained business as usual while advocating for our members during this tumultuous year. It seemed like we barely had enough time to breathe between all the aforementioned activities coupled with day to day responsibilities. Also I cannot thank our office staff enough for their dedication to their duties and for the professionalism with which they represent our Association every day. They deserve kudos for the diplomatic manner in which they interact with members on a daily basis.
In all, it has been a challenging year for the PPA but remember our work is nowhere near finished and as each year renews, so do our many challenges. For those who have taken an active role, I thank you. For those who have not, I ask for just a little of your valuable time for the PPA. You will find the experience to be enlightening and rewarding.
There are so many of our members to thank for stepping up and contributing their time and expertise in furtherance of our mission. I want to thank the PPA Executive Board Members, Secretary Treasurer Tom Perkins, Anil Karia and Will Aitchison our labor attorneys, and our team of defense attorneys, who have all been so very valuable in guiding the direction that we are now headed into the future.
And last but certainly not least, my sincere thanks to you, the members of the Portland Police Association. The PPA’s members are the heart, soul, and life’s blood of what we do. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, expertise, and input in the many decisions that the PPA has faced with over the last year. It has been my honor, pleasure, and privilege to serve you, the entire membership of this outstanding organization. I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays and best wishes for the New Year.