Police Accountability is Possible
In a community like Portland with many diverse needs, the people we put in charge of overseeing our safety must be responsive and accountable to what our community says they need. In my time working in police accountability as Vice Chair of the Citizen Review Committee, I’ve learned a lot about the challenges our officers in the Portland Police face. There is a desire to confront biases, help the houseless, and improve interactions during protests, and we must be open to the fact that there is good work being done to address these things within bureau leadership. At the same time, we need to be brave enough to have tough conversations and challenge old habits that continue to harm trust between the community and the police. Change cannot come without accountability—accountability of our officers and accountability to our citizens. We need to empower the chief of police and our elected leaders to hold problem officers accountable while strengthening the citizen review process.
Our current system of committees and advisory boards leaves the people without the power to influence change and hold their community leaders accountable. We need citizen oversight that has the authority to recommend changes and city officials committed to making those changes a reality. We must review all advisory boards and assess their efficiency and be prepared to create, disband, or adjust these boards as needed.
Since it’s nearly impossible to remove officers for racism or killing civilians in our current system, we need to reassess if the system is truly working for the people and with their best interests. Portlanders of all walks of life want the police to succeed just as much as they do, but that success varies based on the unique relationship every community has with the police. It’s important to acknowledge the history and current norm of over policing black and other communities of color. We need to learn from this history to ensure the next generation of police reflects how our society has evolved. The inability to effectively remove officers that cause harm in our community does not reflect the values we stand for as a city.
Instead of using our limited resources to continue adding more police to the payroll, we should invest those funds into wellness programs. We need a cultural shift in our police, and that’s going to require openly addressing the well being of the people who we give the responsibility of carrying a lethal weapon and overseeing the community.
Hiring officers takes so long that many leave the process as a result, making it more difficult to bring in quality hires in a timely fashion to respond to our urgent needs. In addition to shortening the hiring process, we need officers to reflect our neighborhoods – meaning they must not only live in these neighborhoods, but represent different communities of people. When it comes to training, we are a city rich with knowledge and resources from leaders who have committed to improving the relationship between the police and the communities they are sworn to protect. Let’s bring these leaders in to share this knowledge and create a more robust training program that involves the community.
Our society is in a moment of growing inequality and rampant corruption which has awakened us, bringing us to the streets to speak out for the changes we want to see. While maintaining a safe environment to engage in our democracy, we must ensure those standards are applied fairly. Growing hostility on the streets between Portlanders and the police during public demonstrations fosters an environment where people become afraid to speak out and participate, and this must be corrected.
Protecting our communities requires building relationships, understanding the unique needs of each neighborhood, and working collaboratively with community leaders to solve chronic public safety problems. Access to military grade weapons and uniforms instantly puts up a barrier between Portlanders and the people sworn to protect them. According to Campaign Zero, “studies show that more militarized police departments are significantly more likely to kill civilians.” We must respond by implementing policies on the city level that put our funds elsewhere.
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Candace is running a grassroots campaign fueled by the people of Portland, not corporations and special interest PACs. Therefore, we are only accepting donations under $250! By donating and supporting our movement, we can elect a candidate that will ensure all voices are heard and represented in city hall. Donate today and tell your friends!