ARMED CAMPUS COPS
<<There’s mixed reaction from the community after Portland State University’s announced that they’re rearming campus police.
The decision to disarm campus officers came after years of protest that really picked up after the death of Jason Washington at the hands of PSU police.>>
<<Jason’s death had re-energized protests calling to disarm PSU campus police. And the university eventually did in 2020.>>
<<“Three years ago, I promised our community that we’ll be patrolling unarmed. We have done that,” Willie Halliburton, PSU Chief of Campus Security, said.
But now, the school announced they’re bringing back armed officers.
“Recently, our officers have encountered individuals on campus with weapons. This has made me make the hard decision to have more armed patrols on campus,” Halliburton said.
Jason’s family said they don’t agree with this decision.>>
<<But Jason’s family said they’re speaking out as a word of caution. “We’re hoping this doesn’t happen to somebody. We’re hoping this incident does not repeat itself,” Andre Washington said.
PSU said they have nine armed patrols officers, seven public safety officers, and eight campus ambassadors.>>
<<Portland State University’s campus police are getting their guns back, a response to an increased number of weapons being found on campus and limited assistance from a thinly stretched Portland Police Bureau, according to a campuswide email sent by university president Stephen Percy this morning.
The school disarmed its cops in 2021 in response to years of protests after campus police fatally shot Jason Washington, a 45-year-old Black man who was trying to break up a fight outside a sports bar. In 2019, PSU paid Washington’s family $1 million to settle a lawsuit.
“While this may seem like a step backward in our ongoing efforts to achieve lasting change, it does not alter our commitment to actively pursue a campus safety system that prizes deescalation, respects the dignity of our diverse campus community, and finds a path to return to regular unarmed patrols on campus,” Percy wrote.
In an accompanying video, campus security Chief Willie Halliburton called it a “hard decision,” saying he had not “abandoned unarmed patrols” and that his nine officers would have discretion over whether to bring along a firearm.>>
<<After news that Portland State University would be reverting back to more armed security officer patrols on campus, PSU community members continue to have concerns. The person responsible for the change in policy said it’s necessary to maintain safety on the downtown campus.
“Three years ago I promised this community that we would be patrolling unarmed. We have done that. We have created policies to do so in a safe manner,” Willie Halliburton, chief of PSU’s campus safety office, said in a statement Tuesday.
But, those policies changed roughly two months ago in response to what university officials describe as increased incidents of weapons appearing on campus.
“This has made me make the hard decision to have more armed patrols on campus,” Halliburton said.
Although PSU announced the shift to unarmed patrols by the fall of 2021, campus security officers were not working on campus without firearms 100% of the time.
PSU’s Director of Strategic Communications, Christina Williams, told OPB that some armed patrols had been taking place under the unarmed patrols policy, but they had to be approved in advance by either Halliburton or another senior officer.
The difference now is that campus officers can carry firearms at their own discretion, rather than waiting on that decision from leadership.
Although that policy change happened in February, many students, staff and faculty were not made aware of it until Tuesday, when PSU President Stephen Percy sent out a campus-wide message.
Williams said Halliburton made the initial decision to change the policy. She said Percy and the university’s Public Safety Oversight Committee were informed before the announcement this week, but she didn’t say when Halliburton told them.
Emily Ford, president of PSU’s faculty union, said in a statement that the delay in telling campus community members about the policy change is “just the latest in a series of failures by this administration.”
Ford called it “utterly unacceptable” to make the decision without input from students, staff or faculty.
PSU’s board of trustees approved arming officers in 2014 over the objections of many university students and staff. The debate over armed officers reignited in 2018 when campus officers shot and killed Jason Washington, a Black man who was attempting to break up a fight outside of a bar near campus.
Ford said the faculty union has consistently opposed arming campus safety officers.
In 2014, 70% of union members who responded to a survey indicated they were against arming the officers.
The union is calling on the administration to support community engagement about the issue and fund “de-escalation teams” on campus.
“This is a better approach to handling campus safety issues related to substance use disorder, mental health crises, and houselessness,” Ford said in her statement. “As a university, we are committed by our stated values to serve the city. We enter into community partnerships to solve real-world problems. It’s time to live up to our values.”
Disarm PSU, a group now mostly made up of staff and faculty members, has also been urging the university to disarm its campus officers for about a decade now.
Katie Cagle is a member of that group, as well as a longtime staff member in PSU’s School of Social Work.
Cagle said although the university’s promise of unarmed patrols has never been fully realized, due to the prior ability for patrolling officers to carry guns if approved by a supervisor, Tuesday’s announcement was still a disappointment.
“For me personally, it felt like a punch in the gut even though we knew the policy wasn’t happening,” she said.
Cagle said Disarm PSU’s mission has shifted over the years — from initially pushing back on the board’s decision to allow campus officers to carry firearms, to reminding the campus community of the circumstances that led to Washington’s death, to ensuring administrators keep their promise to move away from armed patrols.
Now, Cagle said, Disarm PSU has mostly been working to inform new students about the history of armed campus officers, as most if not all of the students who were originally involved in the group’s start have graduated.
“I think if you’re a new student coming to PSU at this point, it’s easy to believe like, ‘Oh, these cops have always had guns,’ and to not know that it’s, in the history of the university, a relatively recent change and not something that has to be the reality,” Cagle said.
Cagle said, as did PSU President Percy in his message, that some students, staff and faculty members feel less safe with campus officers carrying firearms, not more.
Cagle also questions the university’s decision to implement this change now. She said as a staff member, she gets messages from the campus public safety office about potential threats on campus — for example, she said she recently got one message about some incidents of indecent exposure near campus.
People have complained about conditions in downtown Portland since 2020, with more people experiencing homelessness and fewer office workers and visitors around. Businesses have said it’s been difficult to stay open, Coava Coffee was the latest Portland business to announce it was moving out of downtown Portland. Its owner blamed nearby violence and criminal activity for its decision to close a coffee shop a few blocks from PSU.
Cagle said she hadn’t seen any messages regarding more instances of weapons on campus, as the university had noted as the reason for more armed patrols.
“I’m curious about what those weapons are, and if they actually require guns,” Cagle said.
Williams with PSU confirmed campus officers have been encountering more people with weapons on campus over the past few years. She said the number of incidents involving people with guns on campus has increased by more than 180% from 2021 to 2022. She said incidents in 2023 are on pace with 2022.
Williams said alerts are only shared with the campus community if there’s an ongoing threat to campus. If there isn’t an ongoing threat, a notice wouldn’t be sent out to campus, but it would be noted in a daily activity log, available to view at the Campus Public Safety Office.>>
<<This week, the son of Robert Delgado filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the city of Portland and the Portland police officer who shot and killed his father in Lents Park two years ago.
In September 2021, a grand jury found there was insufficient evidence to charge the officer with a criminal offense in the shooting.
Skyler Delgado, Robert Delgado’s son, has now asked the court to award damages for the loss of his father, claiming unlawful use of force by the officer, and unlawful pattern and practice by the city. Robert Delgado’s family said he was homeless and lived in the park, and struggled with mental illness.
On April 16, 2021, Portland police received a report of a man with what appeared to be a gun in Lents Park. The man was later identified as 46-year-old Robert Delgado. A caller told operators on the non-emergency line he saw someone doing “quick draws” with it, but was not pointing it at anyone.
As shown in a video recorded by a witness, Portland police officers stood behind trees and ordered Robert Delgado to put his hands up or get on the ground. Robert Delgado became agitated and was started to yell.
He reached down to grab something from his tent and began to stand, when officer Zachary DeLong fired two shots from his rifle and killed Robert Delgado.
Investigators later found a “replica pistol” that had been in Robert Delgado’s possession.
In a 16-page civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court, Robert Delgado’s son alleges the officer who shot and killed his father paid no mind to the signs and symptoms of mental illness, nor did he follow police protocols.
Skyler Delgado and his attorneys claim there were “available alternatives” for the Portland police officer, and yet, “he used none.”
As written in the lawsuit, he instead “aggressively approached” his father “with a rifle shouting commands and threats.”
The city of Portland is also named in the lawsuit. Plaintiffs argue this case, and the actions of the officer “speak to a long history… of police officers ignoring their training, ignoring their directives, and facing no consequences.”>>
<<Skylar Delgado, the son of a 46-year-old man fatally shot by Portland Police Officer Zachary DeLong in Lents Park in 2021, filed a lawsuit this morning against the city in U.S. District Court in Portland.
The complaint alleges police used excessive force against his father, Robert Delgado, and that the city failed to provide adequate training.
The allegations are familiar ones. The city has been under court oversight for a decade after being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice over its use of force against people with mental illness.
“Zachary DeLong’s actions speak to Portland Police Bureau’s lengthy history of officers ignoring their training and directives and killing people, only to face no consequences for it,” the family’s attorney, Juan Chavez, said in a statement.
Police were dispatched to Lents Park in 2021 after callers reported a man quick-drawing a handgun, “like James Bond or like a cowboy.” DeLong subsequently shot and killed Delgado with an AR-15 from 90 feet away.
Two other officers shot him with nonlethal weapons. It took seven minutes before Delgado was given medical treatment, the lawsuit says.
Delgado’s gun turned out to be an orange-tipped fake. A grand jury later declined to indict DeLong, and none of the responding officers was disciplined. As WW reported shortly after the killing, the response was part of a pattern in which Portland police officers responded with long guns to people reported to be armed, but who later turned out to be carrying replica weapons or nothing at all.
The lawsuit alleges that DeLong’s “immediate escalation of the encounter” amounted to negligence, and notes that he was subsequently promoted to detective.
“Defendant DeLong’s actions speak to a long history in the City of Portland of police officers ignoring their training, ignoring their directives, and facing no consequences,” the legal complaint says.>>
<<Skyler Delgado knows the justice system can’t bring his father back, but he’s hoping a lawsuit can spur change in Portland policing.
Skyler is the son of Robert Delgado, who was shot and killed by police at Lents Park in 2021. He’s now suing the city of Portland over his father’s death.
A complaint filed in district court Tuesday, April 11, alleges civil rights violations, wrongful death, and battery on behalf of his late father. The lawsuit comes nearly two years after Robert Delgado’s death.
Delgado, 46, was fatally shot while experiencing a mental health crisis that led to an altercation with police. He was unhoused at the time, reportedly living in a tent at the park.
Skyler, who lives in Arizona, said he hopes the litigation leads to policy reform and greater transparency within the Portland Police Bureau.
“It’s early in the case and we would like to know more, but for now what is apparent is that we need more transparency between law enforcement and civilians,” Skyler said in a statement provided to the Mercury via his attorney. “We could start by implementing body cams and by not having internal investigations. These cases need to be investigated by independent, objective agencies—not the same bureau that committed the act. Also, better training and making sure lethal force is their last resort.”
Grand jury reports indicated witnesses saw Delgado in Lents Park on April 16, 2021 with what appeared to be a handgun. The weapon was actually a BB gun resembling a handgun. The gun had an orange tip, consistent with fake guns, the lawsuit states.
Witnesses recalled Delgado holding the BB gun in different stances, aimed mostly at a fence overlooking an empty baseball stadium, but said he didn’t point it at anyone. At some point, passersby called the city’s non-emergency number.
Officer Zachary DeLong, who was part of Portland Police Bureau’s Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team, arrived first, followed by Officer Samantha Wuthrich shortly afterward.
DeLong recalled Delgado pacing, becoming agitated and chucking his tent and belongings around. DeLong said Delgado responded to commands with aggression, and assumed Delgado was on drugs, and was becoming dangerous. DeLong warned he’d shoot Delgado, before eventually firing an AR-15 at him. Wuthrich also fired a 40-millimeter less lethal launcher at Delgado.
Police didn’t approach Delgado until seven minutes after shooting him.
The lawsuit names the city of Portland, DeLong–who fired the shot that killed Robert Delgado–and five other unnamed defendants.
Attorneys for the Delgado family say DeLong should have recognized that Delgado was having a mental health crisis, based on his training. The wrongful death lawsuit notes a long pattern of Portland Police Bureau officers using force against people in mental crisis. The lawsuit cites a 2012 U.S. Department of Justice investigation into PPB’s use of force, that concluded the bureau lacked sufficient training for its officers on de-escalation tactics.
That investigation was prompted by a “high number of officer involved shootings that involved people with mental illness,’” attorneys noted.
Over a ten-year span from 2008-2018, 58 percent of the bureau’s officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths involved people with mental health issues, the Oregon Justice Resource Center notes. From 2018-19, nearly 70 percent of shootings involving a PPB officer involved someone in mental crisis or with a history of mental illness.
“Defendant DeLong paid no mind to Mr. Delgado’s apparent signs and symptoms of mental illness and/or impairment, and, without any information that Mr. Delgado had posed a threat to anyone, aggressively approached Mr. Delgado with a rifle, shouting commands and threats.
Defendant DeLong then shot Mr. Delgado with his long-barreled rifle without lawful justification from nearly 90 feet away. He had available alternatives. He used none.”
Following the 2021 shooting death, a grand jury failed to indict DeLong on charges stemming from Delgado’s death. He also did not face internal repercussions. DeLong is now a detective with PPB.
Juan Chavez is director of the Civil Rights Project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, who is representing Skyler Delgado, the son of the deceased. Chavez said the 2021 incident follows a “lengthy history of officers ignoring their training and directives and killing people, only to face no consequences for it.”>>
<<The Lewis County, Wash., prosecutor concluded there’s not enough evidence to bring felony manslaughter charges against the chief suspect in the fatal shooting of Portland musician Aron Christiansen and his puppy Buzzo on the Walupt Lake Trail last fall, the prosecutor’s office said Monday.
Ethan Asbach, 20, admitted he fired a gun on Aug. 19, 2022, in the area where the bodies of Christensen and his dog were later found, and forensic evidence links the bullet that killed Christensen to Asbach’s gun, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office investigation.
But the evidence doesn’t meet the threshold for proving criminal recklessness or criminal negligence, county prosecutor Jonathan Meyer told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday.
Corey Christensen, Aron’s brother, said the prosecutor cited incompetence by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office as a key reason he won’t pursue the manslaughter and animal-cruelty charges. Corey Christensen said he and other family members met with Meyer on Monday morning because the prosecutor wanted news of the long-awaited decision to come directly from his office.
Meyer told The Oregonian/OregonLive that his office is considering other potential charges related to Asbach’s possession of a firearm and leaving the scene of the shooting without calling authorities. Those charges would be misdemeanors.>>
<<Available records – including incident reports, 911 calls, interviews conducted by detectives and autopsy and necropsy results – reveal a police investigation marked by disastrous errors, indecision and delays almost from the moment law enforcement arrived on the Walupt Lake Trail last Aug. 20.
Christensen was on an annual camping trip with a group of friends from Portland and planned a solo hike with his dog on the out-and-back trail.
The experienced outdoorsman, who grew up in Klamath Falls, never returned.
The first deputy on the scene determined that Christensen’s death was “not suspicious,” surmising he’d been poked by a tree branch rather than shot. The deputy didn’t call for detectives to investigate the scene, meaning the usual collection of evidence did not occur.
The medical examiner eventually determined Christensen died of a homicidal gunshot wound to the chest.
Meyer said he told the sheriff’s office he was unhappy with how the investigation was initially handled.
“Had the case been fully investigated, and from the beginning been treated like a homicide, I don’t know what evidence would have been found,” Meyer said. “It’s hard to say… All I know is, with the evidence we have now, there’s not enough to go forward.”>>
<<Aron Christensen’s initial autopsy further threw the case off-course.
The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy suggested that Christensen was having a heart attack before he was shot. And the pathologist later couldn’t say whether there had been cross-contamination between Christensen and his dog during the autopsy process.
The prosecuting attorney’s office reviewed the investigation for more than two months, including calling doctors who performed the autopsies to ask follow-up questions.>>
<<According to police reports, Asbach and his girlfriend found Christensen’s body after he fired a gun on Aug 19, 2022, but they did not immediately report it. His father, Michael Asbach, called 911 two days later, on Aug. 21, saying there’d been “incident” in which his son fired in the woods and “there was a man dead there.”
When interviewed by detectives, Ethan Asbach admitted he was in the area where Christensen and Buzzo died on Aug. 19, and had fired a gun in the dark. He told detectives he heard what he thought was a wild animal
growling. Asbach and his 17-year-old girlfriend were hiking through the area to meet his father on a bear-hunting trip in the Cascade Mountains.
The delays in the investigation and charging decision led Corey Christensen and some of Aron Christensen’s friends to question the small-town connections between the sheriff’s office, local politicians and Ethan Asbach’s family.
Corey Christensen said one Lewis County investigator told him that Asbach “was a good kid from a good family.”
Meyer asserts there were no close relationships that played a part in the case’s outcome.
“We’ve seen no evidence of that,” Meyer said.>>
<<The mistakes and miscalculations that complicated Meyer’s decision whether to charge Ethan Asbach started when Lewis County sheriff’s deputy Andrew Scrivner arrived at the homicide scene on Aug. 20, a few hours after a pair of hikers who’d spotted Christensen’s body sent an SOS signal to 911 dispatch.>>
<<The deputy said it looked like Christensen was sleeping on his side with an arm resting above his head. He noticed some vomit in the dead man’s beard and a “small amount of blood” on his shirt and the blanket.
Scrivner said he found a “puncture wound” on Christensen’s left side near his rib cage, and he thought it might be a “tree limb or stick that may have protruded into his body.”
He sent a message to dispatch at 7:45 p.m. “NOT GUNSHOT.”
The deputy told dispatch he didn’t need a detective or more units because the death wasn’t suspicious.
Hours later, officers and Aron Christensen’s friends carried his body down the mountain.
A detective wasn’t assigned to the case until the next day, when Ethan Asbach’s father called to report the shooting.>>
<<An Oct. 26 autopsy determined he died of a gunshot wound to the chest. Dr. Megan Quinn, the pathologist at Pacific NW Forensic Pathology, determined he was shot by another person. But the autopsy raised as many questions as it answered, confusing detectives and slowing the investigation.
Quinn, noting hemothorax – a collection of blood in the chest cavity typically caused by trauma – suspected that Christensen had a heart attack the day he died, and that was why he was lying down before he was shot.
In her autopsy report, Quinn wrote that she believed Christensen likely had been having a heart attack for “several hours” before he was shot.
She wrote that the bullet in Christensen’s chest wouldn’t have been a fatal injury “in and of itself,” that the bullet did not strike “vital structures.”
Quinn later backtracked, explaining that untreated, this type of gunshot injury eventually would cause death.
Traces of THC had been found in Christensen’s system. A detective suggested to Corey Christensen a few days after the shooting that his brother could’ve died from laced marijuana.
Another odd finding: Canine DNA was detected in Christensen’s bullet wound.
In later emails, the case’s lead investigator, Det. Jamey McGinty, asked Quinn if it was possible the tools used to inspect the dog were also used during Christensen’s autopsy. The same pathologists – who had no veterinary certifications – examined Christensen and Buzzo.
She said she was sure the same instruments were used for both Christensen and the dog.
Ultimately, she wrote to McGinty that “I would not say to any degree of certainty there could not have been DNA transfer between items of evidence.”
Meanwhile, a forensic scientist determined that the bullet recovered from Christensen’s body matched Asbach’s firearm.
In the initial referral of charges, McGinty wrote: “While looking at the angle and exit wound in Buzzo, it matches the approximate height as the entry wound on Christensen’s body. With Christensen laying down at the time, it is possible for Asbach to have shot Buzzo, with the bullet exiting Buzzo and entering into Christensen. This could also explain the dog DNA found on the bullet removed from Christensen’s body.”
It’s apparently still not certain whether a single bullet hit both Buzzo and Christensen.>>
<<It’s been eight months since 49-year-old Aron Christensen was found dead along a forest trail in Lewis County and those suspected of killing him will not be charged.
Josh Jones is a long-time friend of Christensen. He said he is beyond disappointed by the decision to hold anyone accountable for Christensen’s death. But at the same time, he’s not surprised.
“I feel like the District Attorney kind of passed the buck,” Jones said.
“He straight up says the Sheriff’s Office messed it up, which they did. But I also think there could have been something a little more there. But maybe he says he’ll do the misdemeanor charges.”
On August 19 of last year, Christensen was camping with his friends in Lewis County. His friends told investigators he went on a solo hike that evening with his dog near the Walupt Lake Campground. When Christensen didn’t return, his friends reported him missing the next day. They found a Lewis County Deputy nearby who was investigating a report of a body found along a trail.
The body was determined to be Christensen and his dog’s body was found next to him. Initially, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said he died from a heart attack but then the medical examiner’s office said he was shot and killed. A homicide investigation began shortly after. It wasn’t until the end of October that 20-year-old Ethan Asbach and a 17-year-old girl were referred to the prosecutor’s office for manslaughter charges.
But the next week, the Lewis County Prosecutor sent the case back to investigators.
“When they initially botched it and said it was a heart attack, it hurt but I could process it,” Jones said. “I was like ‘OK maybe he was hiking too hard.’ My brain was going through all these thoughts. Then I found out the real reason and there was no accountability.”
Jones said at this moment he’s lost faith in the Lewis County justice system. He said he still wants justice for his long-time friend.>>
<<In the first two months of 2023, an average of 30 cars per day were stolen in Portland, according to data collected by the Portland Police Bureau.
In January, 985 vehicles were stolen and in February 804 were stolen, totaling 1,789 stolen vehicles in Portland in the first 59 days of the year.
The Portland Police Bureau said it is still analyzing vehicle theft data from March. However, the theft rate for January and February 2023 is very similar to that of 2022.
Throughout the entire year, the city averaged 30 car thefts per day. In Portland, vehicle thefts began a steep ascent in late 2021. In 2022, there were 10,891 vehicles stolen compared to 6,454 in 2020 and 9,059 in 2021.
Compared to cities of a similar size, Portland’s vehicle thefts rank higher on the list. In 2022, Denver had 15,267 vehicle thefts, KDVR reported, and Boston had 1,314 cars stolen, according to police.
The Portland Police Bureau said in March that the city ranked fifth in the nation for car thefts per capita.
The good news for Portland is that the Portland Police Bureau has recovered the vast majority of stolen vehicles.
In 2022, 82% of the cars that were stolen were recovered within 30 days and 93% of cars stolen throughout the year were recovered. So far in 2023, 84% of stolen vehicles have been recovered by the police within 30 days and 88% of cars stolen within the year have been recovered.
In a March press release, the Portland Police Bureau said its East Precinct had spent almost 18 months conducting stolen vehicle operations, where officers work overtime with the sole purpose of locating stolen vehicles that are being driven around the city. >>
<<Investigators have been collecting and analyzing characteristics of stolen vehicles in the community to discover patterns. They worked with a Dr. Jeffrey W. Tyner, a scientist at OHSU, to review the data and the methods police were using to determine when they would stop a vehicle.
Tyner helped police adjust their methods based on the data. They’ve since gone from finding a stolen vehicle in one of every 31 traffic stops to, on March 19, finding a stolen vehicle in one of every three traffic stops they performed.
The most common vehicles stolen so far in 2023 are the Kia Soul (129), Hyundai Elantra (113), Subaru Legacy (73) and the Subaru Forester (69). Among Portland’s neighborhoods in 2023, most vehicles have been stolen in Northwest, followed by the Hazelwood neighborhood, then Powellhurst-Gilbert and Lents.>>
[KW Note: The media, esp. Channel 12, has been running a lot of these lately, most famously the Walmart closing story. It’s a weird way of blaming economic decline on crime, rather than the other way around. Personally, I find it implausible that a profitable business would close because of a series of misdemeanors. More likely it wasn’t making money, because downtown foot traffic hasn’t resumed since 2020.]
<<Coava Coffee Roasters is closing their downtown Portland location due to increased crime and safety issues.
The downtown coffee shop located at 1171 Southwest Jefferson Street will permanently close, with the last full day of operation on Thursday, April 13.
This comes two weeks after a man used a skateboard to smash a window at the coffee shop. The suspect was arrested.
Coava Coffee announced their closure on Instagram, saying in part: “The team members at this cafe have been on the front line enduring extreme violence and criminal activity on an almost daily basis for the last few years– crime and violence that is only increasing in frequency and severity. From theft, to physical displays of violence, threats of harm, break-ins, window smashing, and repeated traumatic in-café incidents where both staff and patrons feel unsafe.”
Coava Coffee opened the downtown location in 2017.
“While this is incredibly hard, we know it is the right decision. We’re thankful for the many years of patronage and support from our wonderful customers and look forward to serving you at our other Portland locations,” the coffee shop posted on Instagram.>>
<<In the wake of increasing criticism surrounding rampant property destruction, historic homicides, and violent crimes in Portland, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office announced it’s launching a campaign aimed at educating the public about the work being done by his office.
The DA’s office announced on Tuesday that they would be releasing a series of videos over the next several months aimed at helping to “increase awareness” about their work.
The videos will reportedly highlight different topics of interest regarding public safety.>>
<<A bill passed in Washington is expanding the state’s definition of a hate crime and strengthens the ability to prosecute those crimes.
Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5623 into law on April 6 after it was passed with overwhelming support in the House and Senate earlier this year.
SB 5623 will allow courts to impose therapeutic treatment for offenders meant to rehabilitate them. This is something that the victims of hate crimes often ask for in court.
Supporters of the bill say that the only way to combat hate is through education and that’s hopefully what this bill can do.
The bill also expands the definition of a hate crime. Right now, assaults have to result in a physical injury for it to be considered a hate crime.
Under the new bill, assaults that are meant to intimidate or demean but don’t result in injury can be considered a hate crime. An example of that would be spitting on someone.>>
<<In Washington state, there were more than 500 hate crimes committed against a person in 2021, according to the Department of Justice. Their data shows the biggest motivators of hate crimes are largely race and ethnicity, followed by sexual orientation and then religion.>>
<<The Columbia River Fire & Rescue Board says it has no plans to remove the fire chief following a unanimous no confidence vote by the St. Helens Professional Firefighters Association.
“The board of directors for the fire department has a meeting tonight and we are here to hopefully address some ongoing issues that have caused us to file a no confidence declaration with our fire chief,” said Aaron Schrotzberger, the St. Helens Professional Firefighters Association President. “In light of that and other recent events, a lawsuit that was filed by two former employees, we feel our presence is absolutely needed to raise awareness to that issue and things that have been going on in our department by our administration.”
According Schrotzberger, the no confidence vote comes after claims Chief Joel Medina mistreats employees, has questionable ethics, and conduct unbecoming. He says there have been several other problems concerning the department as well.
“We have some vehicle exhaust systems within the building that entrap the diesel fuel exhaust, which is a known cancer agent,” said Schrotzberger. “Some of those are not working or not being installed on newer vehicles. They won’t remedy that. We also have had issues with the cutting a healthcare benefit of ours, that was against our contract. So now we are planning an arbitration hearing for that. They recently went against our signed contract and decided to pay us at a different rate, it caused some of us to take a pay cut. Some of us have had money garnished out of our paychecks according to their calculations. That’s in conjunction with the lawsuit that was recently filed from two former employees. We felt it was definitely time to make our declaration of no confidence.”
Schrotzberger says these issues have been brought up before, but says either nothing had been done to address them or they’ve been fought on them. He says they haven’t heard from Chief Medina.
In a statement provided to FOX 12, Hans Fiege, the CRFR Board of Directors President stated “The Board were made aware of the Union’s accusations and vote of no confidence yesterday. We will review and consider the information the Union has provided. We do not have a timetable to respond to their accusations at this moment.”>>
<<Ahead of Tuesday’s CRFR board meeting, several employees and supporters protested outside, holding signs reading “St. Helens firefighters supports women’s rights” and more.
During the meeting, several stood up and spoke during public comment.
“My intent tonight was to try and inform you guys how bad this chief is ruining this department, but once I saw the report that you guys put together on the harassment complaint and then lawsuit, I realized you all were well aware,” said Aaron Peterson, the St. Helens Professional Firefighters Association Vice President and a firefighter paramedic for over 20 years and a volunteer in the department before that. “Twenty-six people have left this organization since the chief got here. That’s two years. We have never had that level of attrition. When he got here we had 33 paramedics. We are now down to 24. It’s been quite a while since we have been that low.”>>
<<During the meeting, Chief Medina announced the Columbia County District Attorney has opened an investigation into current and former Columbia River Fire & Rescue employees, as well as family members, following alleged financial irregularities concerning money in the department.
“After I had been here about three months I approached the board to discuss financial irregularities that had come to my attention,” said Medina. “It was hard to be specific as to where the financial irregularities were because of the document keeping, the way it kind of worked out. The financial situation when I arrived was a circus. Back in February, I took all the information and all the documents to the Columbia County District Attorney. We’ve met with them three times already. He has found that the information in the documents that we gave him were not just credible, but had merit to the degree that he believes there are serious things going on. As such, the Columbia County DA is conducting an investigation on present and past employees and on some family members.”>>