6/1/2023 News Roundup


<<Police in Vancouver shot and killed an armed-robbery suspect Tuesday evening, the Vancouver police department said.

The detective and other officers waited outside and witnessed the suspect leave the store. “When (the suspect) saw police, he dropped a bag of items, displayed a firearm, ran westbound through the parking lot and during the attempt to apprehend him the suspect fired at officers, and they returned fire,” Vancouver police said in a statement.

Video of officers running and shooting in the shopping-center parking lot was captured by bystanders and posted online. Police said three Vancouver police officers and one Clark County sheriff’s deputy fired their weapons.

The suspect died at the scene. No other injuries have been reported.

Police have not yet publicly identified the suspect. Officials said the names of the officers involved in the shooting would be released “at a later time.”

The officers who discharged their weapons have been placed on leave pending an investigation, which is the usual procedure. The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, led by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the shooting.>>


<<Police in Vancouver shot and killed a man Tuesday who they say was wanted in connection with multiple armed robberies.

A detective from the Vancouver Police Department’s Neighborhood Response Team spotted the suspect at about 5:30 p.m. and saw him go into the Safeway store at Mill Plain Boulevard and Andresen Road.

Two more Vancouver police detectives and a Clark County sheriff’s deputy were at the scene by the time the man came out of the store. Police say when he saw them he dropped his groceries, pulled out a gun and ran away.

Then as police pursued him, he shot at them, according to a Vancouver Police Department press release. All four law enforcement officers returned fire, hitting the suspect. They provided emergency aid, but the man died at the scene.

Police have not released the man’s name.

The four officers involved were not injured. They have been placed on critical incident leave. The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team is investigating.>>



<<An incendiary legal notice filed against Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Sara Boone and the city of Portland offers a view inside the insular bureau at a time when it is under pressure to change the way it operates—and struggling to manage its budget.

The tort claim notice, a document that is the precursor to a lawsuit, was filed March 2 on behalf of Division Chief Tim Matthews and only recently obtained by WW.

In it, Matthews alleges he disciplined a senior bureau officer and close friend of Chief Boone’s for belittling Portland Street Response employees over the use of personal pronouns—and the chief responded by sabotaging his career.

That would be explosive enough, but Matthews was overseeing the fire bureau’s highest-profile initiative: Portland Street Response, which sends mental health first responders and medics to aid people in crisis.

PSR staffers say Boone sidelined Matthews, the bureau’s highest-ranking champion for their work.

And Matthews alleges in his filing that Boone didn’t want Portlanders to know how unpopular the program was inside the fire bureau.

That claim takes on greater significance during budget season, when Portland Street Response’s budget is getting cut as Boone struggles with spiraling overtime costs for traditional firefighters.

Indeed, City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, who oversees the fire bureau and has so far proven fiercely loyal to the firefighters who endorsed his election last year, is signaling that he’s open to sending Portland Street Response—a program developed by his predecessor, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty—to Multnomah County or a nonprofit contractor.>>

<<In March 2022, Matthews alleges, Deputy Chief Lisa Reslock, whom the tort claim notice calls a “close friend” of Boone’s, engaged in what fire bureau employees said in complaints were “bullying, discrimination and unwanted physical contact against employees based on their sexual orientation.”

The tort claim describes an incident in which Reslock threw up her arms and said, “Really?” when an employee suggested people introduce themselves using their preferred pronouns, then put her hand on an employee who objected to Reslock’s attitude and threatened to fire that employee. (Reslock declined to comment.)

Matthews’ tort claim notice says that “because Chief Boone was a close friend of Deputy Chief Reslock, she recused herself from the [investigation] process and Deputy Chief Matthews became the decision maker” and “as the investigation proceeded, multiple new allegations were uncovered.”

Matthews, as Reslock’s direct supervisor, was tasked with deciding discipline for Reslock. He decided to fire her, the tort claim notice says. But before he could do that, Reslock “suddenly retired,” on Nov. 24, 2022.

Matthews, who, along with his attorney, declined to comment, claims in his filing that holding Reslock accountable effectively ended his career at the fire bureau. He alleges that Boone went from having tentatively offered him a new assistant chief’s job Nov. 1 to being “angry and accusatory” in a Nov. 28 meeting to discuss Reslock’s departure and then stripping him of many of his responsibilities.>>

<<Matthews alleges Boone rescinded his promotion and yanked a Portland State University evaluation of Portland Street Response from the Dec. 2 agenda of the Portland City Council.

In his tort claim, Matthews singles out a sentence from the PSU report he suggests Boone didn’t want the City Council to see: “The relationship between [Portland Street Response] and PF&R has been fraught due to the differences in culture between the programs.”

Portland Fire & Rescue remains largely male and white—89% male and 79% white, according to a 2022 audit. It’s a traditional, hierarchical organization while Portland Street Response employees are the opposite.

PSR, patterned after a long-running program in Eugene called CAHOOTS, launched in 2021, sending mental health crisis responders and EMTs rather police to respond to 911 calls about Portlanders in crisis. It gained widespread acclaim locally and quickly became a national model.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) likes CAHOOTS and Portland Street Response so much that in 2021 he and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) secured nearly $1 billion in Medicaid reimbursement funds for such services to be spread across the nation.

Portland officials have struggled to connect to that new federal funding stream, however, leaving PSR vulnerable to the vagaries of fire bureau politics and budget issues, both of which Matthews’ tort claim notice underscores.

When it was finally released in December, the PSU evaluation of Portland Street Response emphasized the antipathy some firefighters felt for PSR.

“We also heard from a number of firefighters that they are wary of the differences in culture between the programs and would be apprehensive to hang out with PSR at their stations, or to work with PSR on scene while responding to calls,” the report said.

Fire Commissioner Gonzalez agrees there is a split. “There are very real cultural differences between PF&R and PSR,” he says. “There is a police abolitionist wing within PSR. While city employees are free to exercise their constitutional rights outside of working hours, there is no place for police abolitionist policies within a bureau I oversee, and we expect our first responders to work with each other as a team.”>>

<<PSR’s budget is set to shrink from $13.2 million this year to $10.1 million in 2023-24, according to city figures.>>

<<Meanwhile, Boone has replaced Matthews with Division Chief Ryan Gillespie, a traditional firefighter who PSR employees say is unsupportive of their mission. And discussions about moving PSR to the city’s Community Safety Division fizzled.>>



<<Under Oregon law, cops may not only seize contraband and proceeds from a drug bust—but also the vehicle or real estate used to commit the crime.

The idea of civil forfeiture is to discourage drug trafficking and funnel profit from the illegal commerce into more worthy causes. Around half goes back to law enforcement agencies and the rest is used to fund college tuition for cops’ kids, diversion courts, and early childhood education. But critics have long lamented the practice. The American Civil Liberties Union accuses police of “making seizures motivated by profit rather than crime-fighting.”

The money adds up. In 2019, seizures brought in nearly $4 million in Oregon. But it’s been dwindling since. By last year, it had fallen to $600,000, although that number may rise as law enforcement agencies submit updated data to the state.

Portland is no exception to the trend. In 2019, the Portland Police Bureau seized assets in 74 cases. Last year, the count was four.

And it’s not just COVID to blame, says the state Asset Forfeiture Oversight Advisory Committee, which publishes annual statistics highlighting the scope of the practice. Its 2022 report noting the drop came out in April, and pinned it partly on “various case law and statutory changes.”

Research director Kelly Officer of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission notes another possible cause: “We’ve seen a drop in drug crime prison intake cases starting with the onset of COVID.”

The committee has explicitly cited two case law changes in its recent annual reports. One is a 2019 decision by the Oregon Supreme Court, which ruled that a Beaverton police officer broke the rules by asking a driver during a traffic stop if he was carrying drugs.

A second was a 2019 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court noting that large forfeitures could be in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits “excessive fines” imposed as criminal punishment.

“Forfeitures in Oregon that are disproportionate or excessive run the risk of being declared unconstitutional,” the committee noted in 2020.>>



<<Washington health officials are warning the public that a youth behavioral facility currently under investigation is continuing to operate without a license.

This comes as two locations face multiple serious allegations of staff members engaging in sexual misconduct with minor patients.

The Washington Department of Health sounded the alarm after Daybreak, a youth services facility under investigation failed close its doors despite having its license suspended.

Despite the mounting pressure to close doors, KOIN 6 News visited the Daybreak in Brush Prairie on Wednesday, which appeared very much open for business, a fact the Department of Health classifies as a continued disregard for the law, and Daybreak calls a logical response to a vindictive campaign.

“We are deeply concerned for their wellbeing, as humans and as youth, and the safety of care that they’re receiving,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, the chief of prevention with the Washington State Department of Health.

The DOH suspended the licenses for both the Daybreak youth services facilities in Spokane and Brush Prairie last Friday, claiming the non-profit allegedly failed to cooperate with investigations into multiple complaints of inappropriate contact made by staff against adolescent patients.

The order states that the program “has identified that three former employees of (Daybreak) Brush Prairie have allegedly engaged in professional boundary violations, including sexual misconduct, with three minor patients.”

“In the course of doing those investigations, we have faced a lack of cooperation from Daybreak, and we cannot actually complete them, which means we cannot assure safe care for the youth in those facilities,” Fehrenbach said.

Some of the claims made by patients include Daybreak staff members allegedly contacting minor patients after they were discharged from the facility, lavish gifts, renting an Airbnb to spend time alone, inappropriate touching and non-consensual sex.

The state says of the more than 700 facilities investigations conducted in 2022, Daybreak was the only facility that refused to cooperate.>>


<<Yesterday, a Wall Street Journal report illustrated the scale of the crisis in Oregon’s jails, which warehouse mentally ill inmates awaiting beds at the state psychiatric hospital. Until these patients can be “restored to competency,” they cannot face trial, frustrating prosecutors and local administrators who say there’s nowhere to put them.

To determine the scope of the nationwide problem, WSJ asked each state’s health authority in March how many people were waiting and how much that number had grown in the past four years. Oregon’s grew more than 1,300%, third-most in the country. It trailed only Louisiana and West Virginia.

The report highlights how badly Oregon’s mental health system has crumbled during the pandemic. In response, policymakers have earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for new programs. And, last year, Oregon State Hospital began releasing patients early, a result of a compromise brokered with advocates and signed by a federal judge.

It hasn’t yet had the desired result of eliminating the hospital’s waitlist, however. There’s simply too many new patients being sent its way.

Other states have tried different fixes. Some are building more state psychiatric beds, others are allowing patients to be restored to competency inside jails.

So far, Oregon policymakers have rejected both options.

The situation is infuriating prosecutors and judges, who say they’re left with no good options in cases where people with mental illness are accused of violent crimes.

In Washington County, prosecutors are demanding that someone—either the hospital or jail—must provide the medication and legal training necessary to bring cases to trial. In two recent instances, judges have agreed.

On Tuesday, Washington County Circuit Judge Janelle Wipper ordered the state hospital to delay the early discharge of Lisa Akers, who is accused of shooting two people and killing one in 2020. Prosecutors had previously argued that the hospital was negligent in treating Akers, and this week Wipper concurred.

Last week, Washington County Presiding Judge Kathleen J. Proctor ordered a mentally ill man, Ian Tunger, be restored to competency in jail pending transfer to a county treatment facility, a practice Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett has previously said violates state statute.

Garrett did not respond to a request for comment.>>



<<Those are among the findings of a poll commissioned by People for Portland, an advocacy group that’s targeted local elected leaders and demanded they take more aggressive action on homelessness, crime and livability issues.

The poll surveyed 500 likely Multnomah County voters between May 19 and 23 and was conducted by GS Strategy Group, an Idaho-based firm with longstanding ties to Republican candidates. It had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Seventy-five percent of the poll’s participants agreed with the characterization of Portland-area homelessness as “an out-of-control disaster,” including 71% of Democrats and 66% of those who self-identified as liberal. Another 17% described the crisis as “manageable but not great” while just 6% said they saw progress being made.

Only 25% of Multnomah County voters said that treatment for people experiencing mental health or substance use disorder should be voluntary; 67% believe “we need legal tools to encourage and compel people to get help.”

And 71% said they support Wheeler’s proposal to ban people from pitching tents on public land anywhere in the city between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and restrict camping around-the-clock near schools, shelters and more than a dozen other locations.

Other notable findings from the survey:

*64% of Multnomah County voters believe county leaders should fund all types of shelter programs, including those that require people to stay off drugs and alcohol.

*55% believe “Portland has lost what made it a special place to live.”

*22% of poll participants approved of how Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who is running for reelection next year, is handling the job; 45% disapprove.>>

<<Some of the questions in People for Portland’s latest poll were clearly tilted in the direction of its founders’ views on crime and homelessness and that Portland-area leaders aren’t doing enough to fix them.>>


<<Multnomah County residents take a dim view of District Attorney Mike Schmidt, with just 22% saying they approve of the DA, according to a poll released Tuesday by an advocacy group that’s launched a campaign to attack Schmidt.

Forty-five percent of voters said they disapprove of Schmidt, the poll found.

In a separate question, the poll asked voters to assess Schmidt’s performance. Just 11% of respondents said the DA is doing a “good job.”

Fifty-seven percent said he’s doing a “bad job” and 32% said they aren’t sure.

Paid for by People for Portland, the poll asked Multnomah County residents to weigh in on questions touching on the city’s image and government’s response to crime, homelessness, drug addiction and mental health services. Some of the questions in People for Portland’s latest poll were clearly tilted in the direction of its founders’ views on crime and homelessness and that Portland-area leaders aren’t doing enough to fix them.

Schmidt, a reform-minded candidate whose campaign emphasized racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system and what he saw as overly harsh mandatory minimum sentencing policies, was elected in a landslide in 2020 and took office about six months early.

Rod Underhill, Schmidt’s predecessor, stepped aside early so Schmidt could respond to social justice demonstrations roiling the city at the time.

Schmidt has come under attack as the city has struggled to address steep increases in gun violence, as well as spikes in property crimes.>>

<<Ads paid for by People for Portland, the well-funded and largely anonymous advocacy group, blame Schmidt for soaring gun violence and homicide rates in Portland. “Portland is a Schmidt show,” one ad declares.

“It’s very clear that Schmidt thinks it’s his job to reform the criminal justice system and make it be more fair, less racist and more about justice for criminals and most people in this area are looking for public safety,” said veteran political consultant Kevin Looper, who joined with fellow political consultant Dan Lavey to launch People for Portland.>>

<<“What’s clear from this survey is that people are looking for someone to prosecute more people, put more people in jail and be more aggressive on public safety than they are looking for someone to reform the criminal justice system,” he said.>>

<<Those polled said they support a focus on prosecutions over reforming the criminal justice system, and an increased use of jail beds. The poll found 65% of respondents said prosecutions should be Schmidt’s priority; 16% said he should prioritize reform efforts. The poll question did not spell out specific reforms.>>



<<The city of Portland has signed a one-year contract with the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform to help develop a “cease-fire” plan to reduce gun violence.

Under the $437,600 contract, the nonprofit consulting and research institute will provide training to help police strengthen reviews of weekly shootings.

The idea is to identify people or groups involved in shootings or at the highest risk of being involved in future shootings so community outreach workers and police can intervene to prevent retaliatory violence.

The strategy, also known as focused deterrence, would include face-to-face “call-in” meetings with the individuals or groups to offer support and spell out the consequences of any continued involvement in crime.>>



<<In September 2022, a lawsuit from 10 plaintiffs was filed against the city alleging that the proliferation of people living outside in tents and sleeping bags has led to sidewalks and other walkways being frequently blocked—a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city opted to settle the suit rather than going to court, and will pay $5,000 to each plaintiff, on top of attorney’s fees. More notably, the settlement will also lead the city to devote $20 million over the next five years toward campsite removals, often called sweeps, prioritizing sweeps that block sidewalks. A new web based data dashboard will be developed, accessible to the public, with information on the city’s response to complaints of obstructed sidewalks, and a 24-hour reporting system will be available for the public to make a report when tents or related items are blocking a sidewalk.

The settlement also calls for the city to stop distributing any tents or tarps, with exceptions for severe winter weather.>>