3/19/2023 News Roundup


<<An administrative employee for the Portland Police Bureau is facing criminal charges for allegedly hindering the prosecution of her husband on manslaughter charges.

In a statement Friday, the bureau said police have arrested 38-year-old Bruce Chirre for the 2021 killing of Jack Dekker in Portland’s Goose Hollow neighborhood. Chirre faces charges of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and tampering with evidence.

On April 5, 2021, residents in the area of Southwest Morrison Street and Southwest 20th Avenue — the location of Providence Park — flagged down firefighters who were near the area and alerted them to a dead person on a sidewalk nearby. Police later identified that person as Dekker.

Initial court records do not indicate how police linked Chirre to the killing.

Bruce Chirre’s wife, 53-year-old Karen Chirre, is also facing charges of first degree official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence.

Karen Chirre has worked for the Portland Police Bureau for 28 years, and has been on leave from her administrative position at the East Precinct since April of 2021. Until her leave, Chirre worked as an administrative supervisor in the bureau’s East Precinct.

Court records say shortly after the killing, both Chirres took action to “destroy, mutilate, alter, conceal and remove physical evidence” that could have led to a prosecution.

“Police personnel are held to a higher standard,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a written statement. “Any time it is alleged that a member of the Police Bureau has acted improperly, we owe it to our community to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. I want to thank the hard work of officers, detectives, criminalists, and other Bureau members for their work investigating this case.”>>


<<An employee of the Portland Police Bureau and their spouse have been charged in connection to an unsolved 2021 Goose Hollow murder, according to the PPB.

The PPB employee, Karen S. Chirre, 53, is an Administrative Supervisor assigned to East Precinct and has been working for the PPB for 28 years, the bureau says. Chirre has been on administrative leave since April 2021 – the start of the investigation.

Police say both Karen Chirre and her husband, Bruce Chirre, 38, are believed to be connected to the death of 58-year-old Jack Dekker, of Portland, on April 6, 2021.>>

<<Bruce Chirre was indicted Friday for Manslaughter in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree and Tampering with Physical Evidence.

Karen Chirre was subsequently indicted on charges of Hindering Prosecution (3 counts), Official Misconduct in the First Degree and Tampering with Physical Evidence.

“Police personnel are held to a higher standard,” said Chief Chuck Lovell. “Any time it is alleged that a member of the Police Bureau has acted improperly, we owe it to our community to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. I want to thank the hard work of officers, detectives, criminalists, and other Bureau members for their work investigating this case.”>>


<<Almost two years after the April 2021 homicide of Jack Dekker in the Goose Hollow Neighborhood, Portland police arrested two suspects involved in the case on Friday – including a woman who has worked for the Portland Police Bureau for 28 years.

This week, a grand jury indicted 38-year-old Bruce Chirre and his 53-year-old spouse Karen S. Chirre, whom PPB says “has been on administrative leave since April 2021 during a pending internal investigation.”>>

<<Bruce is facing charges for first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.

Karen was indicted on charges of three counts of hindering prosecution, first-degree official misconduct and tampering with physical evidence.>>



<<35-year-old Sead Selimovich, was arrested in fall 2019, the case made headlines. Selimovich was charged with a slew of bias crimes, including criminal mischief and attempted assault.

Now, four years later, Selimovich and his family have long moved out of the neighborhood. And despite a lengthy investigation, a Multnomah County circuit judge said he couldn’t be sure how many, if any, of the accusations were true—despite blockbuster court testimony that the investigating officer, David Anderson, believed was damning.

Anderson’s key evidence? The racist text messages found on Selimovich’s phone, shown in court in January. “I’m gonna finish it. Fuck that [N-word],” wrote Selimovich, who did not censor the racist epithet.

That night, someone was caught on video taking a large object to the windows of Quinlan and her family’s cars.

But it wasn’t enough to convince Judge Eric Dahlin of Selimovich’s guilt. The video was grainy, and racist language by itself is not illegal. In January, Dahlin acquitted Selimovich.>>

<<Typically, bias crime cases hinge on whether prosecutors can prove a criminal defendant was motivated by bigotry. This case was different: The hate was clear, but the crime wasn’t.

The bias crime charge depended both on Selimovich’s bigoted motive and proof that he committed the underlying property damage. Dahlin wasn’t convinced Selimovich did it—so the fact that he was spewing racist invective didn’t matter.

Anderson, who had retired from the force and was managing security for the Portland Thorns and Timbers, was devastated. He did something he’d never done before. He sent a pair of emails calling the decision an “error,” arguing that Dahlin had required prosecutors to meet an impossible burden of proof.

He sent one email to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office praising its prosecutor, and a second to Multnomah County’s highest judge, Judith Matarazzo, criticizing Dahlin. “The victims deserved better,” he wrote.>>

<<Selimovich has repeatedly denied all her accusations and says he harbors no racial bias. He admits to calling her a “rat” but claimed in court that he, not Quinlan, had been the target of racial harassment.>>

<<After Quinlan reported the final string of car-window bashings, Anderson went to the car dealership to interview Selimovich, who had a conspicuous splint on his ring finger. Selimovich said he’d hurt it while hammering a truck bumper. Anderson believed it had instead happened during the smashing of Quinlan’s windows.

Selimovich was arrested later that day. On his cellphone were text messages to his girlfriend containing the N-word and a reference to smashing. In another thread, he asked a friend if he could “help out” that night.

(Selimovich later testified he was texting drunk and that smashing was a reference to sex. When asked about the request for help, he told the court it was a coded message to his dealer. “I was tryna buy some coke, man,” he said.)>>

<,Gresham police, despite multiple searches of Selimovich’s home, could not find any DNA or other physical evidence linking Selimovich to the window smashings. And no one besides Quinlan and her husband claimed to have seen him do it. When Dahlin reviewed the security footage purportedly showing Selimovich smashing windows, the video was too grainy for him to make an identification.

Dahlin found Selimovich not guilty on all 17 counts.>>



<<An internal survey of employees at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office shows hints of discontent, as attrition and rising caseloads have taken a toll on morale.

The survey asked respondents to rank whether they were satisfied with their job from 1 (the least satisfied) to 5 (the most satisfied). The average response was a 3.65.

But when asked about how “things are going in the MCDA,” the results were more concerning. All together, employees responded with an average score of 3.2. But female supervisors responded with an average of 2.73 and BIPOC female non-attorney staff gave the office, on average, a 2.95.

“We cannot improve if we don’t take a look at where we’re starting,” DA Mike Schmidt said in a statement. “The employee survey represents the first step in establishing that starting point so we know where we’re doing well and where we need to invest time and resources to improve; it is one piece of a larger set of equity reforms we are working on.”

He noted that he had hired an “equity manager,” a first for the office, who was tasked with assessing the office’s internal culture.

Schmidt has been a frequent target of political criticism as Portland, like many U.S. cities, experiences a rise in violent crime. But the survey results show that he’s also navigating office politics.>>


<<Preliminary data results of a January 2023 survey of employees in the Multnomah County district attorney’s office reveals how workers feel about their job satisfaction and how they feel in regards to the direction of their workplace.

The survey, which was provided to KOIN 6 News through a records request, had employees answer questions on a one-to-five scale, with one meaning that they “strongly disagree” and five meaning they “strongly agree.”

The survey had 182 respondents, according to the document.

Most answers were neutral when it came to job satisfaction, with scores of mostly three’s and four’s; however, the document showed that lower marks for the question “I am satisfied with the way things are going.”

The lowest marks on the survey, which were two’s and three’s, came from women and people of color employed in the Multnomah DA’s office.>>

<<Other employees mentioned diversity, with one saying, “Bullies abound. It’s accepted.”>>

<<Another said they “didn’t know … if we value BIPOC and people with different identities and their opinions as much as we tokenize them for photo ops.”>>


[KW NOTE: I am shocked, shocked to learn that there is racism and bullying in the prosecutor’s office!]


<<The Portland Police Bureau is celebrating the swearing-in of 15 new police officers. The new officers will be joining 108 officers currently in training.

With the new hires, the PPB now has 810 sworn members. 510 of those are patrol officers.

PPB has been working to build back from the lowest number of sworn members, capping out at 773 in September. The lowest number of sworn officers was in May when only 509 officers were able to patrol the streets.

PPB says hiring efforts have been turning out positive results with 96 officers being sworn in since January 2022. An additional 31 Public Safety Support Specialists have also joined during that time.

Despite being sworn in, it will be 18 months before the 15 new officers complete their training. During that time, officers will go through Basic Police Academy at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem and field training, according to PPB.>>



<<Six months ago, Oregon State Hospital agreed to begin early release of patients, all mentally ill criminal defendants, in an effort to reduce its lengthening waitlist and address decades-old litigation brought by disability rights advocates.

Now, facing intense blowback from judges, prosecutors and county officials, the hospital is delaying implementation of the new policy for a few of its most dangerous patients.>>

<<The hospital will continue to hold five patients charged with Measure 11 crimes, which include violent crimes and sex offenses, for an additional two months. It did not name the patients in the court filing.>>

<<Judge Michael Mosman granted it this afternoon.>>


<<People with serious mental illnesses often receive treatment for a time and then drop out or discontinue it.

Here’s what too frequently happens next: Without treatment, some mentally ill people deteriorate and end up homeless. An arrest – easy to come by when living on the streets – can land them in county jail.

Unable to stand trial due to psychosis, they’re sent to the Oregon State Hospital on a court order to be treated.

While they’re at the Oregon State Hospital, they get medication, therapy and a safe environment. Most people staying in the Salem psychiatric hospital are also isolated from friends and family. It’s an hour drive for visitors from Portland and much further for people from the east side of the Cascade Mountains or the southern part of the state.

Patients are also often cut off from any therapists or health care providers they had been seeing before because of a rule in the federal Medicaid statute. And in any case, the majority of patients can only stay until they’re well enough to understand the charges against them and stand trial.

Though some have to leave before they have hit even that relatively low bar for wellness. As of September 2022, people accused of felonies can be held for treatment for a maximum of one year. For misdemeanors, the maximum stay is 90 days.

Some people are eventually able to stand trial. Others are found to be never able to understand the charges against them. Prosecutors pursue “guilty but for insanity” verdicts in the most serious cases. Less serious charges are dropped, and a person is discharged to a hospital, to the street or to the oversight of a county mental health department.

Often, they end up homeless. Then the cycle repeats.

“We’ve become very dependent on the criminal punishment system as our de facto mental health system,” said Jesse Merrithew, a civil rights attorney who is part of a high-profile lawsuit over delays admitting patients to the state hospital. “It doesn’t make sense clinically. Doesn’t make sense morally.”>>

<<In 1995, Oregon closed the Dammasch State Hospital after Disability Rights Oregon publicized the deaths of five patients and the inhumane living conditions there. For years, Oregonians with mental illnesses had lived at the psychiatric institution heavily sedated and in the dark.

Eager to find a better way to treat people with mental illnesses, advocates urged the state to replace the Wilsonville hospital with smaller-scale housing and community treatment programs across the state so that people could remain integrated in their communities while receiving the care they needed.

Flash forward 28 years: That promised community treatment system still barely exists.

Instead, legislators spent $311 million remodeling the state psychiatric hospital in Salem in 2013 and $83 million building a new satellite campus in Junction City in 2015. Those expansions were made over the objections of many people working in mental health care.>>


<<Oregon’s coastal and rural communities face a heightened version of the state’s mental health care system crisis. Rural communities have higher rates of so-called “deaths of despair,” like overdoses, alcohol related deaths and suicides, than the more urban parts of the state.

And the risk of suicide is elevated for people, and in particular men, working in some of the industries that are central to rural lives and identities: fisheries, farming and ranching.>>

<<Rural communities also have even more limited behavioral health providers and treatment options, and longer waitlists, than Oregonians living in the Portland-Salem-Eugene corridor.

And some services, like psychiatric care for children, are virtually non-existent outside the Portland metro area.>>



<<Just a week after the City of Portland announced the first possible location of a sanctioned campsite for the homeless, residents nearby had the chance to take their questions straight to Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday.>>

<<“Brooklyn neighbors overwhelmingly think ‘housing first’ is a good approach, and this is not a ‘housing first’ approach,” said John Karabaic, chairman of the Brooklyn Action Corps. “In fact, it was stated explicitly during the meeting, by the mayor, that services are needed before you give people housing. There’s concern about governance of the site, there’s a lot of concern for our unhoused neighbors, how safe that site will be for them.”>>

<<Some brought up the 1000-foot no-camping perimeter around the site and who would enforce it.

The city says it won’t be Portland Police. Instead, it would likely be an agency that already works with the homeless.>>

<<“We don’t think this one should have the emphasis that it does but we’re not going to stand in the way of making it unsuccessful. We’re dedicated to making sure our unhoused neighbors are taken care of,” said Karabaic.>>


<<Urban Alchemy has said it will cost $5.1 million annually to run the site, not including the price of construction, utilities or daily meals for clients. That is a monthly price tag of more than $4,000 per tent.

Skyler Brocker-Knapp, Wheeler’s senior policy advisor, described the mass encampment plan as a “housing first” model because the goal will be to eventually help people access affordable housing.

Neighbor Alessandra Silver pushed back on that assertion, commenting, “so not housing first, then.”>>

<<Local homeless nonprofits have consistently questioned whether tents are adequate shelter, especially with the threat of severe winter weather and rain. Forum participants brought up similar concerns.>>


The Tribune has a survey: