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The NYPD’s most-complained-about cop speaks out in defense of aggressive arrests

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Retired NYPD officer Eric Dym spoke on a podcast about his policing tactics.
Illustration by THE CITY with photo by Gregory Berg

Logo for THE CITYThis article was originally published on by THE CITY

The NYPD’s most-complained about cop — who accumulated 56 substantiated allegations of misconduct against him by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) before retiring last month — is speaking out in defense of proactive policing by the anti-crime units that were reconstituted this year by Mayor Eric Adams.

As THE CITY reported in September, Lt. Eric Dym, a former U.S. Marine who spent 18 years in the police department, was hit with numerous allegations over eight incidents between November 2018 and June 2020 — including utilizing improper force, multiple instances of pointing his gun at someone and making a false official statement.

He’s also been named in more than a dozen lawsuits for which city taxpayers have paid out over $1.5 million, and has been captured in a number of videos that show him punching people in the face and head.

Earlier this month, in a twopart appearance on the podcast “New York’s Finest: Retired & Unfiltered,” Dym told host John D. Macari — also a retired NYPD lieutenant — that the slew of complaints that were substantiated against him over the past few years arose largely from the rough-and-tumble nature of proactive policing in high-crime areas.

The interview serves as a rare, unvarnished glimpse into the mind of an NYPD officer regarding a controversial policing unit and his own actions — including a significant number of incidents that advocates for reform say can cause lasting harm to both individuals and communities.

Over almost four hours, Dym, 42, portrayed himself as a police officer motivated by a desire to help the public, doing what he was trained to do and what the public and his bosses expected of him — nearly always in encounters with suspects in serious crimes such as shootings and robberies.

He argued that while the techniques for arresting suspects could appear “ugly,” including punches to the face and head to gain compliance, they were often necessary.

“We’re seeking out those in possession of illegal firearms and those who did shootings. So in many cases, they’re going to fight because they don’t want to go to prison for a long period of time. They have to give up maybe family, kids, or a job — so they don’t want to go in,” Dym told THE CITY in an interview.

“And it’s human nature at that point: It’s fight or flight. And unfortunately, when we form a tactical plan, and we do a good job of isolating that perpetrator, their only option is to fight,” he added. “And our only option is to keep each other safe.”

Business as usual

But criminal justice reformers who listened to the podcast said they heard someone too singularly focused on arrests as a path to public safety and dismissive of concerns about the constitutional rights of those arrested.

They also balked at Dym’s dismissal of oversight by the CCRB and other bodies, which they deem essential to maintaining a check on police powers to deprive people of their freedom.

Dym offered a perspective on his career that contrasted sharply with that of police reform groups that have criticized the often aggressive policing of the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime units, which were formally disbanded under former Mayor Bill de Blasio in mid-2020 and were reconstituted by Mayor Eric Adams in February as Neighborhood Safety Teams.

The units had a reputation for packing burly officers into unmarked cars that would circle the neighborhood before the doors suddenly flew open and the men jumped out to chase down people they targeted — at times incorrectly — as potential criminals.

In some instances, anti-crime cops have killed their targets while trying to detain them — as was the case with Antonio Williams, who was fatally shot by police in September 2019.

“He was just standing by a mailbox waiting for a cab, and they just jumped out like cowboys in the middle of the night,” his father, Shawn Williams, recently told New York magazine. “Playing judge, jury and executioner.”

After de Blasio faced a mini-revolt from NYPD officers over his response to the police killing of Eric Garner, his response to policing controversies was to back the NYPD against criticism the vast majority of the time. But when de Blasio announced that the city was disbanding the anti-crime units in June 2020, even he called their tactics “overly aggressive.”

Dym said the only actual change sparked by de Blasio was that the officers went from wearing plainclothes to uniforms, while the work of the units continued as usual.

Asked about Dym’s claims, an NYPD spokesperson shared a video of former NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announcing the transition of officers from anti-crime units.

Constitutional policing

As a lieutenant since January 2015, Dym got to attend the NYPD’s notorious CompStat meetings at 1 Police Plaza, where precinct commanders and other personnel take turns on the hot seat over results in their coverage areas.

But even as top police brass and de Blasio were for years publicly touting a kinder, gentler approach to policing known as “neighborhood policing,” which brought back the concept of the beat cop tasked with knowing community members by name, the marching orders did not change for anti-crime cops, according to Dym.

“The leadership was indicating to do policing as we did — it didn’t seem to change. We still had that broken windows ideology,” Dym told THE CITY. “But yet, when they would talk with the public, it was all about these neighborhood coordination officers and this type of policing,” he added. “And really there was a dichotomy between them.”

Jennvine Wong, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society’s Cop Accountability Project, said that while Dym seemed to genuinely want to help people, his approach was colored by seeing bagging bad guys as the only path to public safety.

She said it was part of a wider cultural problem at the NYPD and other police departments where the quick-and-dirty solutions get glorified, while the harm caused to communities gets ignored.

“It’s not enough to change the policies — it’s about training these officers on how to police constitutionally, and it’s really about changing their views and to change that warrior cop mentality,” said Wong.

Reasons not to engage

Since gaining the ability to prosecute its own cases at administrative trials overseen by the NYPD in 2012, the CCRB has managed to get only one NYPD member terminated: Daniel Pantaleo, who was involved in the killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014.

With the commissioner of the NYPD having final say over the disciplinary outcome — and even the ability to overrule guilty findings by the administrative judge — the CCRB’s recommendations for penalties against officers have been downgraded or rejected more than 70% of the time in serious cases, according to a 2020 analysis by The New York Times.

Last year, following pressure from the City Council, the NYPD implemented a new disciplinary matrix that lays out the range of prescribed penalties for misconduct. The police commissioner is required to explain in writing any departure from the standards. But the commissioner still has final say on discipline — a power that advocates have pressed to remove.

The widespread use of body-worn cameras by police officers in New York City has also helped the CCRB reach more definitive conclusions: Between May 2017 and June 2019, the agency closed 76% of cases with video footage based on the evidence, as compared to a 39% closure rate on the merits when no video was available.

Dym said the scrutiny that comes both from body-worn cameras and from the CCRB has had a deterrent effect on the behavior of officers, particularly those likely to accumulate complaints because of their work in anti-crime units.

He said one of his best sergeants transferred to operations to sit behind a desk rather than face CCRB probes.

“In the last year, I myself, I’ve observed numerous opportunities to conduct a stop where I’m confident I would obtain an illegal firearm, but I shied away from it because the amount of charges were mounting up,” Dym told Macari.

Array of incidents

Among the 52 allegations that the CCRB has substantiated against Dym in incidents that took place since November 2018 are seven instances of improper force, four instances of “gun pointed” (all four in one case), two complaints of restricting someone’s breathing, one charge of making a false official statement and one of using a nightstick as a club against protesters.

The use of the nightstick occurred during a brutal police corralling and mass arrest of protesters in The Bronx’s Mott Haven neighborhood on June 4, 2020, where, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch, cops violated international human rights laws.

Dym said he cut a deal with CCRB prosecutors as he was retiring — after rejecting the first offer they made — that would cost him 64 vacation days for five of the cases, while three cases would be closed upon his departure from the force.

While there’s limited information publicly available about those eight substantiated cases, a summary of one of two that went to administrative trial earlier is critical of how Dym and other officers treated an individual after he was handcuffed and detained.

In that 2019 case, the CCRB found that “Lt. Dym was captured on video footage repeatedly punching a handcuffed prisoner inside the cell area of the PSA 7 stationhouse, including while he was sitting atop the prisoner on the ground and while other officers were holding the prisoner down.”

THE CITY wasn’t able to obtain the CCRB’s full findings in that case ahead of publication.

Dym told THE CITY that the administrative judge found him not guilty in that case earlier this year, and that it was a good example of appearances not matching reality.

He noted that even though the prisoner was handcuffed at the time, the suspect had tried to head-butt officers, was resisting attempts to be strip-searched and was suspected of having a concealed weapon on him.

A CCRB spokesperson confirmed that Dym was found not guilty at the NYPD’s administrative trial.

Lives on the line

Among the remaining six cases the CCRB substantiated against Dym was one stemming from an incident on Nov. 1, 2018 — which Dym described as the violent arrest of a shooting suspect who had a history of resisting arrests that included knocking a Manhattan precinct lieutenant unconscious.

The CCRB investigation summary notes at one point in the melee — during which an officer fired a Taser at the suspect and the suspect bit two officers — the suspect “stretches his left hand out from within the dogpile, and a set of handcuffs dangles from his wrist.”

It notes that one of the officers in the scrum grabs the suspect’s arm and immobilizes it.

“Lt. Dym then punches [redacted] about the face or head approximately 14 more times, over the course of approximately 17 seconds, before taking out his own set of handcuffs and placing them on [redacted’s] right wrist,” the report said.

The memo details significant injuries to the suspect shown in an arrest photo, including “a bandage on the left side of his head, significant swelling about his right orbital, and streaks of blood apparently coming from wounds on the right side of his face.”

The suspect’s eye appears to be swollen shut in a second photo, taken the next day by the Department of Correction, the memo said.

In his interview with Macari, Dym said CCRB investigators criticized him for not ceasing the punches once another officer grabbed the suspect’s arm. But he said they watched the action unfold by slowing the video down to half speed — something the CCRB report confirms — which he called an unfair way to review real-time decisions in a violent scrum.

He said that in the tumult he hadn’t seen anyone grab the suspect’s arm.

“They wrote that Lieutenant Dym was exonerated up to a point. And at some point, that if Lieutenant Dym felt it was necessary to get the police officers safely from underneath the perpetrator, that deploying punches was not the way to achieve that goal,” Dym said on the podcast. “And they make it sound like achieving a goal, you know, that I want to enhance my career,” he added.

Dym went on: “We’re talking about lives on the line, safety, for myself, and the cops. And they forget that we’re human. And we all have that fear factor.”

Legal restrictions

A CCRB database shows the case stemming from the November 2018 incident was settled with Dym ahead of his retirement with the loss of 10 vacation days — out of the 64 total Dym lost.

Jose Lasalle, who as a co-founder of the group Copwatch Patrol Unit has for years kept tabs on Dym and his anti-crime unit that covers public housing areas in two precincts in The Bronx, characterized Dym’s do-gooder version of his career as “full of crap.”

“He knew if he did not retire his ass was going to receive some serious discipline, charges and fired,” said Lasalle, who won a nearly $900,000 wrongful arrest lawsuit in 2019 against Dym and other members of the PSA 7 precinct.

“In his sick mind he really believes he did nothing wrong,” added Lasalle.

On the podcast, Dym characterized Lasalle as spreading a “one-sided ideology” that’s critical of policing. Yet he at one point said he thinks many of the anti-police advocates genuinely believe their work is helping the public — even though he disagrees.

Dym also said he’s at a loss for how critics of the police, including many of the CCRB investigators, would like cops to subdue dangerous people who resist arrest, particularly given the restrictions that have been placed on policing tactics over the years.

This includes the City Council’s passage in 2020 of a ban on chokeholds that made it a misdemeanor offense to restrict someone’s breathing — including by putting pressure on their diaphragm.

“The Taser is not always an effective tool. No one likes to see the baton. Punches are ugly. They don’t want to see chokes. So I ask the public…tell us, what do you want to see?” Dym said on the podcast. “We’re only told what they don’t want to see. But what do you want to see?”

Resisting oversight

Even as the CCRB began substantiating multiple cases each year against Dym, the NYPD veteran said that the police department was awarding him the highest performance evaluations possible.

Wong, of Legal Aid, acknowledged that the NYPD’s culture of rewarding aggressive law enforcement is a significant factor in preventing officers from rethinking their policing approach.

She said the NYPD often diminished the significance of CCRB findings and was internally sending a different message for what it expected from officers on the ground.

“This culture of impunity has existed at NYPD for so long and it’s incredibly hard to root out,” said Wong. “This NYPD undermining of CCRB findings, it just means officers aren’t going to take substantiated CCRB complaints seriously.”

Dym told THE CITY it wasn’t that officers feared termination as a result of CCRB scrutiny, but that having open charges from the board could also derail promotions and transfers.

He said he was passed over for promotion to captain last year because of the cases that were piling up against him.

Dym also said he felt unable to perform policing as he believed was necessary in recent years amid the scrutiny of the CCRB investigators, whom he addressed directly on Macari’s podcast.

“My guys and girls that were on the street, the ones that you’re substantiating complaints against, including myself — we’re the ones that you want to come to your door if, God forbid, you should ever need the police,” Dym said on the podcast.

CCRB spokesperson Clio Calvo-Platero noted instances of external corroboration of the CCRB’s findings: Dym was found guilty in one of the two cases that went to administrative trial earlier this year and pleaded guilty in three of the remaining six cases.

“The CCRB is an independent and impartial agency that investigates misconduct and makes disciplinary recommendations to the Police Commissioner, who has the final disciplinary authority,” she said.

NYCLU Assistant Policy Director Michael Sisitzky added that cops have historically acted like any oversight is too much to bear.

“The problem is not that civilian complaints and our mechanisms for civilian oversight make it impossible for police to do their jobs; the problem is a policing culture that refuses to accept any outside limits on their authority,” he said. “And when that authority includes the power to detain people, remove them from their homes and communities, and to use force and even deadly weapons against them, it is by no means too much to ask that their conduct be subject to oversight.”

Sisitzky added: “We know that the police will not police themselves. An approach that says that officers cannot or will not do their jobs with basic accountability when they break their own rules should compel all New Yorkers to question whether policing is the answer to community safety.”

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.





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Group files lawsuit to stop enforcement of youth curfew on Halloween in Chicago | Ap

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CHICAGO — Good Kids Mad City filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Chicago to seek relief from the city’s curfew on Halloween so young people with the organization can “cop watch and peacekeep” in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood on the holiday.

The city’s curfew prohibits those under the age of 18 from being on the streets after 10 p.m. Every year on Halloween, Good Kids Mad City holds an event in Hyde Park where members cop watch — observe police activity with the goal of deescalating and discouraging police misconduct — and conduct outreach to young people. According to the lawsuit, members are concerned officers will arrest and harass them during their event.


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Winnipeg Police Won’t Say If Notoriously Aggressive Cop Attended Anti-Bullying Event With Manitoba’s Premier

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Winnipeg Police won’t say if an officer with a history of aggressive behaviour who was featured in two viral videos on the website TMZ recently participated in an anti-bullying campaign launch with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson at a Winnipeg elementary school.

Community members and police critics have raised concerns about a press release photo that appears to show an officer who bears a striking resemblance to Winnipeg Police officer Kevin Smith standing next to Manitoba PC MLA Obby Khan for the Winnipeg Police Association’s annual Cool 2B Kind school anti-bullying campaign earlier this month. The officer’s badge also appears to resemble Smith’s badge number: 1849.

WPS officer believed to be Kevin Smith stands beside Manitoba PC MLA Obby Khan in “Cool 2B Kind” publicity photo

Smith made international headlines when two videos of him displaying aggressive behaviour went viral and were featured on TMZ in 2020.

The first video to go viral shows Smith issuing a ticket in 2020 after a passenger questions why Smith isn’t wearing a mask. TMZ later published another video showing an incident in 2019 where Smith threatened to arrest two individuals for questioning why Smith pulled them over. 

Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth described Smith’s actions in the second video as having “almost racist overtones.” These videos prompted an internal Professional Standards Unit investigation.

However, TMZ videos highlighted only the latest in a string of complaints made about Smith throughout the last 20 years. Smith has additionally been the subject of other public complaints and allegations, including verbally abusing a newcomer girl’s soccer team, conducting an illegal search, and issuing a “bogus ticket.”

“I don’t know if there was any admonishment. I don’t know what came of that (PSU) investigation with those allegations,” WPS spokesperson Dani McKinnon told PressProgress.

TMZ video screencap of WPS officer Kevin Smith.

All of the individuals or organizations involved in the school anti-bullying photo-op refused to confirm or deny whether the officer in the photo was, in fact, Smith.

In response to questions from PressProgress, the Winnipeg Police Association did not deny Smith was in the photo.

Winnipeg Police, however, referred all questions regarding the Cool 2B Kind campaign back to the Winnipeg Police Association. 

“I don’t want that on the record,” McKinnon told PressProgress. “Frankly, I think it’s silly you’re asking.”

“You’ve already made the inference by asking WPA and nobody’s disputed it. Nobody’s come right out and said ‘That’s not him’. So why are you asking?”

“We’re just not interested in participating in this article,” the McKinnon reiterated.

A spokesperson for Premier Heather Stefanson, though honourary co-chair of the WPA’s Cool 2B Kind campaign since 2016, downplayed the premier’s involvement  in the event, explaining that she was merely “invited.” 

Premier Heather Stefanson attends the WPA's 2022 Cool 2B Kind campaign launch.

Premier Heather Stefanson attends the WPA’s 2022 Cool 2B Kind campaign launch. Photo via the Winnipeg School Division.

A spokesperson for Stefanson told PressProgress: “The Premier has attended the event in the past and was pleased to be invited to the launch earlier this month. The Premier and her office were not involved in determining who would attend the event.”

The Winnipeg School Division likewise declined comment and directed PressProgress to the police union.

“They would have organized who attended and would be able to talk about any of the attendees and their backgrounds. We don’t do background checks on people that are coming for an event like that. That’s a decision that would have been made by the Winnipeg Police Association,” a WSD spokesperson told PressProgress.

Community organizer Buck Doyle has had direct interactions with Smith and believes Smith is pictured in the press release photo. Doyle is currently involved with the grassroots group Winnipeg Police Cause Harm but has been involved in other police abolition groups throughout the last 15 years, such as Winnipeg Copwatch.

“It looks exactly like him and the badge number matches up,” Doyle told PressProgress.

Photo of Smith taken by Doyle in 2008, edited to protect privacy.

Doyle recalls interactions with Smith dating back to 2008 at the International Day Against Police Brutality.

“There’s a video of him on the web yelling at an Indigenous woman to get off the road threatening her with arrest. Then after that we saw him basically stalking us on a Copwatch patrol. We saw him like 14 different times in one patrol so he was clearly continually coming back to us.”

At another event, Doyle says Smith took his ID and never returned it and insulted his physical appearance.

“He bullied me and he bullied the woman in that TMZ video. You can see he is bullying that Indigenous woman. It’s clearly his way of being.”

“The irony there is so relevant because policing is bullying, so how can they be promoting not bullying when sort of the whole dynamic is bullying?” Doyle added.

The Winnipeg School Division recently ended their School Resource Officer program citing budget cuts following advocacy from community groups like Police Free Schools Winnipeg and the Police Accountability Coalition.

Now these community groups believe it’s time for the government to further cut ties with police in schools and invest in non-policing related supports for students.

Police Accountability Coalition spokesperson Kate Kehler told PressProgress:

“Whether or not it is Sergeant Smith, we don’t support officers in schools given that racialized students can have very different experiences with police and are in fact made to feel less safe by their presence.  Stopping bullying in schools is essential and the province should be funding that system much better than it does so it does not need to rely on charitable donations no matter if they are well intentioned or not.”

Kevin Walby, a criminal justice professor at the University of Winnipeg, believes the anti-bullying campaign is a PR campaign to justify higher police budgets. Days before the anti-bullying event, Stefanson announced her PC government would spend an additional $3.2 million for a joint WPS and RCMP initiative to “allow police officers to take on violent crime like never before.”

“We have police out here trying to create this almost mythical image of them as a peacekeeper, as everything. They want to be everything. They’re a greedy institution so they want to be everywhere and consume as many resources as they can,” Walby told PressProgress.

“They’re trying to craft these feel good images of the police and premier in the same kind of frame when they are both well known in Winnipeg and Manitoba for approaching their work with the opposite proclivity. Police are paid bullies, or violence workers, and the PCs have just completely abandoned Manitoba and Manitobans for as long as they’ve been in power.”

Researcher Fadi Ennab, a PhD student in the University of Manitoba’s faculty of education, partnered with Police Free Schools Winnipeg and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to produce a report last month exploring the impacts of policing in schools on Black and Indigenous students and their communities.

Ennab’s report argues that the Winnipeg School Division must “end the use of police and deprioritize relations with them.”

“Pretending that they’re cool and kind when they are very unkind and cruel to the community is dishonest,” Ennab told PressProgress.

“The police are not a resource, they often criminalize and harass youth.” Ennab added. “It’s not just about the one bad apple or the individual officer.” 

“My research shows issues of documented racism and bullying in schools by police and school staff and sometimes school staff makes it worse by involving the police.”

“If we really care about bullying in schools, we don’t promote pro-police programs. Instead, we promote the social safety net for students, making them feel welcome and safe, giving them supports they really need.”

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

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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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