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Portland’s Mayor Decided to Replace Police on Horseback With Unarmed Cops. Where Are They?



Almost two years ago, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler made a difficult and unpopular decision. He eliminated a division of the Portland Police Bureau that was a perennial favorite among cops and citizens: the Mounted Patrol Unit.

He pledged to replace it with something that could be more valuable: officers who would work primarily on improving Portland police’s relationship with residents living on the margins of the city.

But 17 months later, those replacements haven’t arrived. Multiple sources tell WW that the mayor’s office didn’t begin negotiating with the police union for these jobs for over a year. Even now, the mayor and the union are quarreling over what the jobs will entail: The union says the new officers will spend little time in the streets.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz says she only voted for a new police union contract in 2016 because she expected the unarmed officers would be added.

“Over the course of the negotiations with the Portland Police Association, much of the original intent has been watered down,” Fritz says. “I am very disappointed.”

Outside observers are also perplexed.

“It seems like, if it is a priority, they would have done it faster,” says Dan Handelman, who runs Portland Copwatch. “It’s very frustrating that it’s taken this long.”

The mounted patrol served as a kinder, gentler face of the Police Bureau. The horse-and-cop duos patrolled Old Town and helped control protests, but unlike officers in cruisers, they also served as a public relations team.

“Groups of kids, parents, teenagers and elderly, they all come up, they want to see the horses, they want to pet them,” Robert Ball, then-president of Friends of the Mounted Patrol, told KATU in 2017. “They end up talking to the police officers, and that is what community policing is all about.”

In June 2017, Wheeler cut the mounted patrol from the city budget. The horses were sold to private owners. The officers were reassigned to other units.

But Wheeler promised to use the savings—more than $1 million—to fund 14 unarmed community service officers who would concentrate on improving police interactions with minorities and the homeless.

Advocates say such unarmed officers build trust with citizens most likely to have frequent interactions with police or be victims of crime.

“When you bring your gun and a badge into a situation, it can make some people uneasy,” says Sam Sachs, a former Portland park ranger. “If you’re not wearing a gun, it kind of changes things.”

The city originally proposed the public safety support specialists, or PS3s, as a way to more robustly staff the Police Bureau at a lower cost than simply hiring more sworn police.

The bureau said in 2017 the PS3s would respond to minor car crashes, perform welfare checks, and handle lower-level livability issues. Then-Chief Mike Marshman said the program would be modeled on one in San Diego, where community service officers patrol neighborhoods, write reports and help children safely cross the street after school.

But negotiations with Portland’s police union have changed the scope of those jobs. Community service officers are often opposed by police unions, which don’t want lower-paying jobs in which officers don’t carry guns.

Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, says the PS3s will not respond to any calls for service and won’t patrol on their own. Instead, they will focus primarily on support services, like manning the front desk at precincts and waiting for tow trucks to remove disabled vehicles from roadways. “They will not be taking any calls for service whatsoever,” Turner says.

Handelman calls the shrinking scope of the PS3s’ role a “bait and switch.”

The mayor’s office says the new officers won’t simply be manning desks. “Nothing prevents them from participating in a walking beat with a sworn member,” says Wheeler spokeswoman Sophia June, “in addition to attending community events.”

Fritz says the negotiated jobs aren’t what was promised.

“It is unclear whether these staff will be able to function as independent responders to low-priority calls or take reports,” she tells WW. “Their usefulness may be greatly diminished compared with the vision. I will approach all future contract negotiations with PPA with a high degree of skepticism.”

The mayor’s office concedes it will miss its January 2019 deadline for hiring the first new officers. That deadline was set only after the city failed for a year to make progress in implementing the new program. The Police Bureau says it will start conducting background checks on the first round of potential hires in January.

The mayor’s staff says the new officers remain a top priority. “We are prioritizing the PS3 program,” June says.

The false starts and delays show the steepness of the challenge Wheeler took on when he campaigned on police reform. But they also raise questions about how urgently the mayor and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw have pursued his promised changes.

“Chief Outlaw has been steadfastly committed to this program, and is looking forward to the deployment of PS3s,” the Police Bureau wrote in emailed answers to WW’s questions.

Community policing has long been a stated priority for Portland mayors, dating back to Vera Katz.

“These institutions take a long time to change sometimes,” Copwatch’s Handelman says. “Maybe, eventually, if we got a larger squad of these [PS3s], we wouldn’t need as many armed officers.”

The mayor had a model for the new job: park rangers, a position Commissioner Nick Fish created in 2012.

“If they used that model, I think they’d be successful,” says Sachs, the former park ranger who now sits on the Portland Committee on Community Engagement Policing, which oversees investigations of the Police Bureau. “Park rangers are ambassadors first, and code enforcers second.”

Union president Turner tells WW the city did not begin earnestly pursuing the agreement until late July 2018, a full year after the City Council funded the program.

The city and the union have only just this month come to a tentative agreement to ratify the positions.

Marquis Fudge, a labor relations analyst for the city’s Bureau of Human Resources, says he became involved in the contract negotiations with the police union in July. He says the negotiations took a typical length of time, spanning about four months until an early agreement was reached in October. He says he doesn’t know why the city didn’t start the negotiations sooner.

June, the mayor’s spokeswoman, says informal negotiations started well before that. “The late timing of formal bargaining,” she says, “was due to scheduling conflicts among the PPA representatives.”

Even as the city slowly moved toward creating the new positions, Outlaw and Wheeler lobbied the City Council to fund 58 additional sworn officers—who would carry guns and perform traditional police functions.

His staffers say the mayor is committed to improving the relationship between the public and police. They point to several programs that predate Wheeler’s tenure and a new civilian oversight committee required under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The mayor is delivering on his promises to improve community policing,” June says.

This story has been updated after print deadlines with new information.

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Bronx man and police watchdog says cops roughed him up for filming them, plans to sue NYPD – New York Daily News



A Bronx man who runs a police watchdog group claims he was roughed up for exercising his right to videotape.

Jose LaSalle, 44, claims in paperwork filed with the city controller’s office that cops grabbed his camera, threw him up against a fence, cuffed and strip-searched him, then hit him with a summons for jaywalking in September.

Now, he’s planning to strike back with a $500,000 suit against the city, the NYPD and the cops, according to the filing, obtained by the Daily News.

LaSalle, who works for the city’s Parks Department, regularly walks the beat in West Bronx wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words “CPU,” Copwatch Patrol Unit, on the back. His goal is to make sure cops aren’t abusing citizens.

The confrontation that left him bruised began around 12:20 a.m. on Sept. 28 near W. 183rd St. and Tiebout Ave., when a cop shined a flashlight in his face, LaSalle alleges.

LaSalle approached the three officers while recording with his Samsung 5 and asked them for their badge numbers, he said. He even recited the section of the NYPD patrol guide requiring them to provide the information, he said.

In turn, the officers demanded his identification. He asked what he had done wrong and why they needed his ID, he said.

“So one grabs one arm and the other grabs the other arm,” he recalled. “My face slams against the gate. I felt something snap in my shoulder.”

He didn’t struggle and let the officers take his phone and put him in cuffs, he said.

“We got you motherf—–, now you’re going to jail for assaulting an officer,” one of the officers said, according to the paperwork filed last week.

“You thought we weren’t going to get you,” one of them said, according to LaSalle.

LaSalle told a sergeant that he had been assaulted by the cops and that he needed medical attention for his shoulder. Instead, he was taken to a back room of the station on Ryer Ave. and strip-searched, he claims.

He spent four hours in a holding cell and was never read his rights, he claims. He was not criminally charged and was released with tickets for jaywalking and possession of a scanner.

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“I’m well-known so it’s amazing for them to go after me,” he said on a recent walk past the 46th Precinct station house, where he was held.

He said he wants to make sure other people don’t have to suffer the same abuse that left him in the hospital for two days with scrapes and bruises and a sprained shoulder.

He still hasn’t gotten back the phone he was using to film, but has picked up a new Sony video camera that he now uses to catalogue cop behavior in his neighborhood.

Lasalle, who started the group in 2011, said he was happy to hear NYPD Commissioner Bratton say he was going after cops who were bad apples — but he plans to continue rolling.

“These are the eyes that don’t lie,” he said, gesturing to his camera. “We want these officers to know that if the system doesn’t hold them responsible, we will make sure that we blast them all over social media.”

Bratton issued a memo in the wake of the viral video of the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island that it is legal for cops to be filmed while on duty.

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Undercover cop chases and grabs 14-year-old girl in Manhattan (VIDEO) – New York Daily News



A dramatic and disturbing video shows an undercover cop going after a 14-year-old girl repeatedly in upper Manhattan as onlookers demand the officer leave the teen alone.

In the video, the cop violently grabs the girl, but a woman rips the teen away from him and browbeats him until he and his partner leave.

“You know you’re doing wrong. Go home!” the unidentified woman yells.

The video was shot by Michael Barber, 24, a member of the activist group Copwatch Patrol Unit, on May 14 in Washington Heights near 140th St. and Hamilton Pl.

He said the action started about 10 minutes earlier when the undercover cop and his partner stopped a group of girls as they walked down the street and one officer singled out one of the girls.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is crazy,’ ” Barber said. “As soon as he jumped out of the car he grabbed her. He just had his hands on her.”

His video starts with the cop grabbing a second girl’s wrist and leading her to his car, where the first teen waiting. When the girls try to leave, he calls them back.

The unidentified woman demands to know the officers’ names, but they don’t tell her. Barber can be heard in the recording telling the woman that the officers are required to give their names.

The woman then urges one of the teens to ask one of the cops, who gets back into his car, for his name as he questions her.

The teen, standing outside the cop’s car, accuses him of putting his hands on her, despite her age.

“I did not do nothing and you came and touched me,” she says.

The cop suddenly jumps out of his vehicle and lunges toward her, trying to grab her as she repeatedly tells him not to put his hands on her. Then the cop is seen pushing the girl toward a parked minivan as onlookers yell at the officers to leave her alone and try to pull her away.

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As the girl who accused the cop of putting his hands on her tries to walk away, he yanks her violently by the arm, before his partner pulls his partner away.

With the crowd yelling at them, the cops climb into their unmarked car. In a parting shot, one officer hurls obscenities at the woman who tried to protect the girl as they leave.

“I was surprised that things didn’t get worse,” Barber said. “I believe he was wrong from the very beginning and that’s why he didn’t call it in.”

Barber, who’s been with the group that videotapes police for about a year, said the cops stopped the girls because somebody pushed the button on a police call box.

The NYPD didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the video, which the Daily News provided to them.


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Video: Someone Who Appears To Be That Gun-Waving Cop Says He’s “The Hero You Deserve”



The cop caught on video threatening and attacking bystanders who filmed him in Harlem last week likes playing dress-up. That’s what Cop Watch activist Steve Cruz says he discovered when Officer Risel Martinez followed his Instagram account, and Cruz started poring over his. Cruz says Martinez deleted his account soon thereafter, but not before Cruz had mined many weird and whimsical, if not by-the-book videos from it. The one that is perhaps the most topically relevant to the incident last Thursday, during which Martinez punched a 19-year-old who was filming him and pulled a gun on another bystander filming, is of a man who seems to be Martinez lifting weights dressed as Batman, or “Yatman.”

In another video, Martinez appears to be goofing around dressed as Thor, or “Yor,” in a cell.

Here he is as Bane:

And keeping his hair nice:

Cruz said the follow notification came early in the morning as he was blasting out videos bystanders shot of the Thursday incident, and that he was shocked to realize that the man on the other end was the officer pointing a gun in the video.

“I looked at [Martinez’s profile] real fast, then started downloading all the videos, boom boom boom, got out of it, backed out of it, then privatized my page, ” Cruz said.

Martinez was stripped of his gun and badge on Saturday as video of his handling of the Harlem incident circulated online. It began, according to police, when officers had stopped a driver and dirt-bike riders started circling them. The NYPD says the officers chased the bikers, and witnesses said that they caught up to one rider at a building on 134th Street and Eighth Avenue and arrested him. The man was compliant, witnesses said, but Martinez punched him repeatedly anyway, then when a bystander started to film him and a partner struggling with the man on the floor, Martinez pulled his gun and pointed it at the peanut gallery, yelling “Back up!” Another video shows Martinez storming over to 19-year-old Jahnico Harvey, who is filming outside the front door of the building, and punching him in the face. Harvey was arrested and charged with menacing and disorderly conduct.

Footage of the incident released so far provides an incomplete accounting of everything that happened leading up to and following the gun-pulling and punching.

Martinez’s Instagram videos put a human face on last week’s violence, but unfortunately for him, cops aren’t supposed to post photos in uniform, and like the rest of us, are banned from using their phones while driving.

Cruz said that Martinez appears “way tweaked” in the Harlem video, as well as in his personal posts, and questioned his mental state. He said he hopes that releasing videos of the embattled cop will help police leaders decide to fire him.

“[Cop Watch Patrol Unit] hopes that Bill Bratton comes to his senses and lets this officer go, because he’s a ticking time bomb,” Cruz said.

He said the group is holding some videos in reserve in case the department tries to claim Martinez is a decent cop.

Martinez joined the department in 2012, according to city payroll records. For anyone who wants to go further down this rabbit hole, here’s a greatest hits reel of sorts compiled by Cruz, including one of Martinez holding a knife to the neck of a Christmas elf doll.

We’ve reached out to the NYPD to see if there is any separate action being taken around Martinez’s goofing off. We’ll update if we hear back. We couldn’t reach Martinez.

[h/t Keegan Stephan]

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