SYSTEM GRAVELY BROKEN: RESPONSES TO CHASSE DISCIPLINE REVERSAL

Yesterday, the news revealed that the two officers who had been disciplined in the brutal beating death of James Chasse, Jr. were ordered to have their records expunged and back payments made for the 80 hours each was suspended. Participants in the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform responded to the information with the message that the system is gravely broken. Members of Chasse’s family also weighed in with their thoughts.

Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr, Chair, AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform:

“This decision shows that the supposedly neutral arbitrators are unfairly biased towards the police. In every case where an officer has been disciplined for deadly force, the arbitrators have overturned the findings. Nobody has 100% track record, not even Perry Mason. We must get the undue influence of the Portland Police Association neutralized in the next contract negotiations so we can truly have community control of the police.”

Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch, member of the AMA Coalition steering committee:

“It seems that the City messed up (again!) by not sustaining a broad enough number of policy violations, and doing a poor job of defending their actions in suspending the officers. The arbitrator repeatedly notes how Sgt. Nice and Officer Humphreys’ actions led to a tragedy, but doesn’t acknowledge that therefore they appropriately should have been disciplined.”

James Chasse, Sr., father of James Chasse, Jr.:

“I think the type of [administrative action] shows a strong interrelation between the city attorney’s office and police whether still listed as union members, or not. I have to believe the [administrative action] was weak by directive, and the contracts entered into with the union probably encourage weak managerial control by the people being served. Obviously the contracts were written to help cause the kind of arbitration answers, but the city attorney’s office is probably very much entwined in the shame of the city’s works.

“I also believe mayoral candidates should be pressed as to what they would do to fix the situation. Most who I explain James’s mechanical skill and strength – could not lift 35 lbs, wonder what Portland wants them to think. [That] someone would be ‘mistaken’ for a criminal, run, be beaten, transported like James was, [will] possibly cause a disgust on the face of the rest of the country when people research it. Is that what a new mayor wants?”

Mark Chasse, brother of James Chasse, Jr.:

“The police’s power to use deadly force against its citizens is an awesome power and should carry an enormous responsibility. In Portland, however, the police still do not even receive employment reviews, much less any other real oversight. I am saddened but not completely surprised that the Portland Police have continued to fight against any responsibility for what they did to my brother, this arbitration being only the most recent example. Apparently, two weeks’ leave was too severe of a punishment for beating my brother to death and ensuring that he did not get proper medical treatment for the gruesome injuries they inflicted on him.

“It is unlikely that the Portland Police will ever regain the respect of the citizens of Portland until they stop fighting all efforts at real police accountability. I hope that this longstanding Bureau/union policy will change, as it would be in everybody’s interests.”

For more information contact Dr. LeRoy Haynes at 503-287-0261.

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