The city of Portland’s request for a change in venue in the James Chasse case is the wrong course of action for the city to take. Rather, the city should settle with the Chasse family and take responsibility for the brutality inflicted on Mr. Chasse by the Portland Police that caused his death. Multnomah County has already settled with the Chasse family for their role in Mr. Chasse’s death and Mayor Sam Adams and the City Council should follow their lead. This is a question of a justice and so far the city of Portland has come down time and time again on the wrong side.
At the same time, I am heartened that Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard is advancing proposals to provide greater citizen oversight over the Portland Police Bureau. Our community is fortunate to be served by many brave men and women in the Bureau but Mayor Adams, the City Council and the Police Chief have essentially lost control over the functions of the Bureau to the Portland Police Association, a union more determined to protect their members – no matter their actions – than to develop a relationship of trust between the police and the public. Commissioner Leonard is to be commended for stepping into a leadership void while the rest of the Council avoids the difficult issues.As one of the clergy who officiated at Mr. Chasse’s memorial, I plead with the Portland City Council to finally do the right thing and take responsibility for this terrible tragedy.