The U.S. Department of Justice recently found that the Portland Police Bureau has engaged in a pattern of abuse that has denied people their basic civil rights and resulted in the deaths of several Portlanders, mostly those suffering from mental illness. Willamette Week notes this morning that the DOJ has not called for an independent monitor to oversee reforms in Portland but instead will “create a body to ensure increased community oversight of reforms.” That's an effort doomed to failure.
Local communities always oppose advances in civil rights when pressed. That's the sad reality of our history. We would never have had civil rights in our nation without the intervention of federal authorities and monitors. Mayor Sam Adams and Portland Police Chief Mike Reese have already said they don't agree with the DOJ's findings. So what is there to reform? And how will this body make head-way if Portland authorities are busy protecting turf instead of protecting rights?
Most disappointing in the article today in Willamette Week were the comments by the two candidates hoping to replace Sam Adams as mayor in January when his scandal plagued term ends. Both said they oppose independent oversight. So does the police union, naturally. This is all a recipe for more failure, more inaction, and more deaths of innocent Portlanders.