In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States wrote that, “policemen, like teachers and lawyers, are not relegated to a watered-down version of constitutional rights.” For 50 years, this Garrity right against compelled self-incrimination has been the law of the land under the 5th Amendment. Thirty-three years ago in 1984, the Oregon Supreme Court in Soriano reaffirmed that compelled self-incrimination under the Oregon Constitution is unlawful. For decades, we have reminded the City of these basic constitutional issues and the immunity that flows from compelled statements in the immediate aftermath of a critical incident. Recently, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office reminded the City of these 50- and 33-year old constitutional rights held by all United States and Oregon citizens, including police officers.
Today, the Mayor announced his intention to challenge these constitutional rights because he—unlike our two Supreme Courts—believes that police officers should only receive watered-down constitutional rights. In an era where we as police officers are dedicated to upholding the constitutional rights of all members of our Portland communities, it’s frustrating that our Mayor is actively seeking ways to undermine our constitutional rights as police officers. All of us—police officers and community members alike—should be angered that the mindset of City leaders is not to uphold constitutional rights that are the foundation of our Country and State, but to find a way to circumvent or even trample on those rights. When Mayor Wheeler was sworn into office, he solemnly swore to “support the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Oregon.” Perhaps he needs to be reminded of his oath.
Daryl Turner, President