6/29/2023 News Roundup


[KW NOTE: The plan to undermine any alternative to policing continues apace.]

<<The head of Portland Street Response announced her resignation to staff Wednesday morning.

Robyn Burek has led the alternative first response program since its inception in 2020. The program, which sends unarmed mental health workers to behavioral health emergencies instead of police officers, operates within Portland Fire & Rescue. Willamette Week first reported Burek’s announcement Wednesday.

According to staff, Burek has accepted a position in the City Auditor’s office and will leave Portland Street Response next month. The Fire Bureau has not yet identified who will replace her.>>

Burek’s announcement comes amid a moment of uncertainty for the city program. Portland Street Response just entered its second year operating citywide after seeing measured success the first year. But the program remains understaffed and lacks a plan to secure long term funding within City Hall. At the same time, recent changes to Portland Street Response’s internal policies – like a ban on distributing tents or food to clients and a mandate for staff to assist in clearing homeless encampments – have reportedly hurt employee morale.

The program was introduced by former City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in 2020, and it was Hardesty who selected Burek to serve as its first program manager. City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez unseated Hardesty in November, and now oversees Portland Street Response. Gonzalez has at times been critical of Portland Street Response’s work, highlighted conflicts with firefighters and is responsible for some of the recent controversial policy changes to the program.

In an interview with OPB last week, Gonzalez said his priority is to “provide stabilization and some organizational structure for Portland Street Response” while in the role.>>


<<Robyn Burek, program manager for Portland Street Response, told her team at roll call this morning she is leaving to take another job within city government.

Burek’s abrupt departure from the initiative she has led since its formation in 2020 is another sign of unsettled conditions at Portland Street Response. As WW reported in May, Tim Matthews, the Portland Fire & Rescue division chief who led the bureau’s Community Health Division, which includes Portland Street Response, was placed on leave in December after a falling out with Fire Chief Sara Boone. He subsequently filed a tort claim notice accusing Boone of retaliation, which she has denied.

Burek’s departure comes at a time of uncertainty for Portland Street Response, which emerged as a new initiative in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice finding that the Portland Police Bureau’s responses to 911 calls for mental health crises were unacceptable.

Many officials here and across the country have responded positively to the concept. U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) were so impressed with the alternative response to mental health crises—pioneered in Eugene by the nonprofit CAHOOTS—that they obtained nearly $1 billion in federal funding to support similar programs nationally. But Portland Street Response faces uncertainty in its hometown.

Part of the issue: scarce resources. PSR competes with other, more traditional programs within the fire bureau budget, while its staff are not an easy fit in the bureau’s culture. Meanwhile, state and local officials have struggled to tap into the federal funding Wyden and Merkley obtained.

“Given the need to respond to mental and behavioral health care challenges in Portland, it’s crucial that programs like Portland Street Response work with the state and with community care organizations to get access to the enhanced Medicaid match as soon as possible,” Wyden told WW in May.

Fire Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, however, is less supportive of Portland Street Response than was his predecessor, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

After taking office this year, Gonzalez prohibited PSR from distributing tents and, under the new Community Health Division chief, Ryan Gillespie, PSR has been prevented from distributing clothes, food and other items it routinely gave people in crisis.

Portland State University, which the fire bureau hired to conduct regular evaluations of Portland Street Response, has produced reports that are generally positive about the program, although PSU analysts have also noted a deep cultural divide between the fire bureau and PSR.

The Oregonian reported on the newest evaluation June 23.

Officials from around the country are seeking ways to replicate mental health crisis response, and representatives from many cities have come to Portland to observe PSR. As WW reported today, a planned visit by Detroit officials underscored tensions between PSR and the fire bureau.

That’s the backdrop for Burek’s departure, which caught many people by surprise. A licensed family therapist with an MBA, she took charge of the nascent program in November 2020 after serving as an analyst in the fire bureau. She will now move to a position in the City Auditor’s Office. Burek could not immediately be reached for comment.>>


<<Officials from Detroit will arrive in town next month to learn about Portland Street Response, the city initiative that sends mental health clinicians rather than police officers to soothe people in distress.

Visitors will include staff from the Detroit mayor’s office, one city council member’s office, and the fire and police departments.

But records obtained by WW show that just two weeks ahead of the visit, tensions at Portland City Hall over the purpose and future of the program are bleeding into the itinerary for the Detroiters’ visit.

That’s apparent from an email thread between Detroit officials and city of Portland staff.

The thread involves a onetime policy staffer for former City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the official who championed PSR but was then unseated by Rene Gonzalez in November. That staffer, Andre Miller, advised Detroit officials that the climate in Portland City Hall “has definitely changed politically,” and advised that the visiting officials speak about the program with Hardesty—who’s no longer in office.

It appears the Detroit officials changed their itinerary to take Miller’s advice.

But then the email exchange made its way to officials at Portland Fire & Rescue, who were unhappy with the pivot in the visitors’ itinerary, which appeared not to include Gonzalez and his staff.

Gonzalez has been a fierce advocate for the firefighters’ union, which backed his campaign against Hardesty. The fire bureau, under which Portland Street Response operates, harbors uneasy feelings about the progressive program—and, as WW first reported last month, PSR is now competing for funding with a similar program run by firefighters (“Flame War,” May 31).>>

<<Miller wrote back on June 8: “The climate has definitely changed politically in Portland as well as what current electeds think Portland Street Response should do. I think the best people to get you in contact with is Jo Ann who is the Commissioner I previously worked with that championed Portland Street Response and then the new Commissioner who oversees Portland Street Response so you can get the different perspectives.”>>


<<Robyn Burek, the program manager for Portland Street Response, announced her departure Tuesday morning.

Amid turmoil at the mental health emergency response program, which is housed in the Portland Fire Bureau, Burek has taken a job in the city auditor’s office. Her final day at Street Response will be July 6 and she will start at the auditor’s office July 10.

Burek confirmed her departure to The Oregonian/OregonLive but declined to comment further.

Burek, who has a graduate degree in family therapy and an MBA, led the program from its outset as a pilot in the Lents neighborhood to its city-wide expansion. In the past two years, the program has sent mental health workers and EMTs instead of armed police in response to people experiencing a mental health emergency.

The teams responded to nearly 7,400 calls in the past year, 98% of which had been traditionally handled by police.

When Rene Gonzalez, the new fire commissioner, took over, Portland Street Response workers said they felt less support and more concern for the future of the program. Gonzalez barred workers from handing out tents during the coldest months of the year and directed them to assist with city-ordered sweeps. Officials in the program worried about the reliability of long-term funding. And workers and some program advocates said they worried the mission of the program was swaying from its intent after Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, its biggest champion, lost to Gonzalez.

The city’s incoming fire chief Ryan Gillespie put a freeze on purchases, like clothes and food boxes, that workers say are needed to protect and build trust with potential clients. A hiring freeze also left Burek unable to fill vacancies. Gonzalez stalled the program from expanding to 24-hour operations, saying the program needs to be “right-sized” as kinks are worked out.

A recent study by Portland State University raised concerns about tensions between program staff and rank-and-file firefighters, concerns about how Gillespie’s and Gonzalez’s new policies could cause harm to the city’s most vulnerable residents and the need for the program to expand its hours of operation. Gonzalez dismissed its findings and said he didn’t have plans to bring it before City Council. In response, Portland State University made the report public on Tuesday.

A new program manager has not yet been announced.

“We have full confidence in Chief Gillespie’s leadership to select the next PSR manager who will ensure program health and compliance with city policies and procedures,” Gonzalez said in a statement.>>


The Merc comments:

<<despite the overwhelming success of Portland Street Response (PSR)—the groundbreaking program designed to help the homeless and those in mental distress (while taking a lot of pressure off the cops)—is in trouble thanks to political forces who are obviously trying to sink it. Much of this is due to shenanigans from conservative Council member Rene Gonzalez, whose tent ban and insistence that PSR participate in homeless camp sweeps—along with sowing division between program members and the fire bureau—is making daily life for those in the program unbearable.

The good news is that PSR just has to hang on until Gonzalez and his fellow minions of (ahem) the “Portland Metro Council” are soundly voted out office in 2025.>>



<<Now, in just days, the ban will go into effect prohibiting people from camping in public spaces every day between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. But, how will this be enforced?

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said Portland Police Bureau officers will have to contact a person three times to offer services before anyone is given a citation. If someone doesn’t comply, they could face a $100 fine or 30 days in jail.

“A fine seems a little bit pointless to somebody who’s indigent and can’t pay for anything as well,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt also said he doesn’t see people facing any jail time for violating the ban.

“I’ve said this over and over again, you know, a jail bed is our most expensive housing option in our community I think it’s $314 a day or something like that and it’s the least effective at long term stabilization so it’s not a cure, it should not be a housing substitute,” he said.

Plus, he said it would be a challenging process to build a case for a misdemeanor.

“You’re talking about three different officers that, theoretically, if this somehow couldn’t be resolved, and we didn’t connect the person to services and we went to trial, now all three of those officers have to come in and talk about their interaction, have their police report and remember what they offered and what that looked like and that those services were actually available. So, I think it’s a work-intensive process for enforcing a city ordinance and I know that’s a concern PPB has,” Schmidt said.

If a case does make it to trial, he wants to be able to connect people to services right in the courtroom, but he hopes that will happen before a case ever makes it to that point.>>


[KW NOTE: Schmidt is surely right that this ban would be prohibitively expensive and cumbersome to prosecute. But neither prosecutions nor services are the point, at all. The point is to give the cops license to harass homeless people. That’s it; that’s the whole purpose.]

<<Below the Morrison Bridge on Portland’s Central Eastside are small homeless tent villages often reported to the city and targeted for camp removals.

“I’m just trying to survive,” said Russell, 60, who lives in one of the tents there.

“They follow you around and post on you, post on you, post on you, so you’re in a constant state of move,” said another homeless man named Dave.

He’s referring to Rapid Response Bio Clean, one of two commercial cleaning companies contracted by the city of Portland to clean and remove homeless camps throughout the city. The other company is City of Roses Disposal and Recycling.

A historic ruling just came down in a 2020 lawsuit filed by a homeless person against Rapid Response. Lynette Snook v. Rapid Response Bio Clean Inc. found the cleaning company liable for wrongly throwing out personal property during a sweep in the St. Johns neighborhood. Rapid Response denies the claim but still owes about $400 in damages.

“However, Rapid Response employees did testify to taking everything they removed that day to the dump,” said one of the attorneys behind the case, Nate Haberman of Underdog Law Office. “It sets an important precedent that under Oregon law, everybody’s property is valued.”

 According to city data, Portland’s camp removal crews have cleared or removed 4,000 sites in the last 12 months. It’s not clear how many of those Rapid Response is responsible for. This lawsuit was filed roughly three years ago, meaning there have been thousands of camp clearings since then. Some argue Rapid Response has been doing this all along.

Those living in the camps under the Morrison Bridge share that belief.

“What it takes to live, they take from you,” Russell said. He said he’s had his camp cleared at least 14 times in his 12 years on the street.

Following a camp cleanup, Rapid Response crews are required to store people’s personal property for 30 days, regardless of its condition, except for things like weapons and drugs. After 30 days, the property is destroyed or donated.

“They say they are putting it in storage but it’s never there,” Russell said.

“This last time, I didn’t get any of my hygiene stuff back. I didn’t get any of my first-aid stuff back,” Dave said of a recent sweep. He’s called 311 twice to report it. “I doubt it’s going to do any damn good.”>>


<<The Portland Police Bureau arrested nine people while searching for squatters inside an abandoned office building on Broadway near Pioneer Courthouse Square.

PPB Officer David Baer told KOIN 6 News that officers searched the building at the request of the property manager and that no search warrant was served. The suspects were arrested for various trespassing charges and outstanding warrants. Police also seized body armor, a bandolier of bullets and a stolen wallet during the search.

The suspects arrested during the search were Remington Smith, Destiny Erickson, Dustin Hersel, Jacob Hiebler, Willie Wilkins, Sean Darnielle, Jormani Wilson, David Worthington and Brenton Voorhies.>>


<<On a rainy afternoon in Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood, a man on a bicycle stops to peruse dry goods and emergency supplies in bright yellow bins lining Moire Cubbin’s yard.

The repurposed Amazon bins–double stacked on their sides in a row affixed to the ground–comprise what Cubbin calls her “giving fence.” The fence is her version of a free pantry.

Each bin includes different types of items, from food, to mini flashlights, gloves, blankets, and hygiene items like tampons, and pads.

Sturdy containers provide organization and easy access for those walking or cycling by. The fence has become a drop-off spot for others doing grassroots, small-scale mutual aid work to try to help people living on Portland’s streets.

“It’s a give-and-take-what-you-need kind of thing,” Cubbin said. “All people regardless of age, race, gender, income level, or where they lay their head to sleep can take or leave items at the Giving Fence. The poorest to the richest can take a much needed bottle of water on a scorching hot day.”>.

<<Since last June, the city’s code enforcement department has responded to at least four complaints about the property, which sits on a corner lot at a busy intersection. Each report stemmed from Cubbin’s free pantry.

Because the city allows the personal information of code enforcement complainants to be kept private, she doesn’t know who’s complaining–likely a distant neighbor upset about the extra foot traffic. But one thing is clear: someone is using the city’s code enforcement system to harass and target Cubbin.

Now, she says, it’s starting to feel like the old adage, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

At first, someone complained about spoiled food and scraps being left out. That led an enforcement officer to inspect the property. While on site, the officer noted other issues, beyond what was listed on the initial complaint.

Ken Ray, a spokesperson with Portland’s Bureau of Development Services (BDS), confirmed code enforcement officers are allowed to cite property owners for violations, even if they weren’t part of a complaint. City employees need permission to enter property or access gated areas that aren’t otherwise visible from the street.

Cubbin said she and her husband had to relocate their RV, move things around in their backyard–which isn’t visible from the street–and cut and mow the grass, despite a vacant lot across the street with overgrown grass creeping up to the fence line. Three weeks after a violation notice was mailed in March, the city followed up, threatening a $581 fee and a lien against the property if issues weren’t resolved in 30 days.

Initially, she was storing bins in a quaint pantry made from fuchsia painted wood. The fence is the result of multiple attempts to appease code enforcement. Cubbin was told her giving fence didn’t comply with city code either, but later received confirmation from a city planning director, who said although the structure is unusual, it complies with the city’s rules for a fence.

Still, Cubbin has found herself facing complaint after complaint.

By mid-June, Cubbin was relieved to find an outstanding nuisance complaint against her property had been closed, but three days later, she said a new complaint cropped up.

The concept of free pantries and fridges gained steam in 2020 during the pandemic. Across Portland, households began offering food out of refrigerators placed near sidewalks, plugged in with extension cords.

Others used discarded cabinets or shelves as makeshift pantries, offering non-perishable food and items.

Ray, the BDS representative, said city code prohibits storing refrigerators, or any other large household appliance, outside a home.

Free pantries are fine, so long as they only store dry, non-perishable items and don’t block a right-of-way or sidewalk.

Despite the proliferation of the free fridge and pantry effort, the city could find no other code complaints about free pantries, aside from the ones at Cubbin’s house.

In Portland, there isn’t any real mechanism to prevent a person from using code enforcement in a retaliatory manner.

Ray noted unfounded complaints don’t stay in property records or negatively impact property owners, but if legitimate violations are observed, a code enforcement complaint will stay on property records indefinitely, whether it’s been resolved or not.>>

<<The need for basic essentials like those in Cubbin’s fence is likely to increase in coming months, as the city of Portland begins enforcing a new daytime ban on camping or sleeping in many public spaces. The city’s recent settlement of a disability lawsuit regarding sidewalks blocked by tents could also lead to heightened enforcement of anti-homeless policies.>>



<<Citing a new Oregon law stiffening penalties for fentanyl possession, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is abandoning a proposed ordinance that would have criminalized public drug use.

Last week, Wheeler announced he would ask the Portland City Council to vote on an amendment to city code that would prohibit consumption of a controlled substance on public streets and sidewalks. City code already prohibits consuming alcohol in public spaces, outside of bars and designated dining and event areas.

The mayor cited “Portland’s growing substance abuse problems” and overdose deaths, which he said proliferated in the wake of Measure 110, which decriminalized personal possession of illicit drugs.

But on Tuesday, Wheeler said the Oregon Legislature’s recent passage of House Bill 2645, which increases the penalties for possessing certain amounts of fentanyl, making it a misdemeanor crime statewide, would be enough to address the issues.

Passed by Oregon voters in 2020, Measure 110 sought to decriminalize addiction by allowing someone caught with a small amount of hard drugs a chance at rehab instead of jail. Under the law, a person could have a civil citation waived if they reached out for drug treatment assessment.

Since the measure’s implementation in 2021, the state has grappled with an explosion of fentanyl use and overdose deaths. Local political leaders like Wheeler and City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez blame Measure 110, saying it left little to no deterrent for using highly addictive and deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Wheeler’s office cited “thousands” of civil citations issued across Oregon for drug possession since 2021, but only 189 treatment assessments. The mayor’s office stopped short of noting that data is preliminary, and only captures a three-month period in 2022, from July to September.

Even if Wheeler’s proposed ordinance went into effect, it’s unlikely it would have been enforced heavily, if at all.

The city’s police force is notably understaffed and the state has a widely publicized shortage of public defenders. What’s more, Oregon limits cities’ ability to create laws regulating public drug use.

Wheeler said he was “willing to take that fight to the courts, if necessary.”

Additionally, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the local jail, noted it won’t reserve jail beds for offenders whose only crime is a city citation.

“Importantly, neither the City nor the [Portland Police Bureau] control whether the Sheriff will allow officers to arrest offenders or how courts could impose sentences under this ordinance,” the mayor noted in a statement defending his ordinance last week, saying the city supports “finding alternatives to criminal punishment” to help people get substance abuse treatment. “We must acknowledge that the City and PPB do not currently have the resources to address every instance of drug use in public spaces, but we have to start somewhere.”

The now defunct proposal was the latest in a string of recent moves by the Portland City Council to remove visible homelessness and drug use from Portland’s streets. Earlier this month, the council approved a ban on daytime camping and sleeping in many public spaces, noting violators would first face warnings, then the possibility of fines or jail time.

Some of the city’s moves operate in the margins of legality when it comes to federal laws regulating homelessness and state laws regulating the criminalization of controlled substances.

The mayor said enforcing the new state law aimed at cracking down on fentanyl use will “take time and patience” as the city works to bolster staffing within the Portland Police Bureau.>>



<<This week, FOX 12 rode along with a Portland Police Officer at Central Precinct to see what a shift is like for an officer in downtown Portland.

FOX 12 rode with Officer Stephen Pettey on the C shift Monday afternoon.>>

<<We also discussed understaffing at the bureau. As of June 15, PPB reports it has 286 patrol officers, 101 of which are at Central Precinct.

“There’s roughly ten cars out right now,” said Pettey. “All those except for one are one person cars. I think the national average for police per capita is something like 1.8 and Portland has been ranked at 1.4 or 1.2 for quite a long time. That becomes apparent when you see what we have to deal with.”

Pettey remarked on the teamwork with his fellow officers.

“A lot of the thing of being a police officer is you’re solving problems to help the community,” said Petty. “So a lot of the things we train on is when you get to a scene if you’re the person who is primary and you are going to write the report, you’re going to chat with the victim, you’re going to get video, you’re going to do different stuff like that, you’re going to get all the things you need to write the report. A big part is problem solving. So you go to a scene, you write the report, you’re doing that, but the other people who are supporting you on that scene typically find a problem or a role that’s not being filled and fill that role. If there are witnesses that need to be talked to, you find someone to chat with them. If there is video that needs to be collected someone starts doing that. If cars need to be towed, someone starts on that. It really is a teamwork effort to get the call handled safely, efficiently, and sort of resolve it. That kind of teamwork is critical and it does happen here. I really like the people I work with because once you work with them side by side for a long enough time, you get the idea of how they respond to things and what they need.”>>

<<With there being less officers, we asked Pettey about the importance of community policing.

“It’s about treating everyone with respect and giving everyone a good impression,” said Pettey. “Allowing them to know that we are here to provide a service for them and to help them out. It’s a feedback loop that helps us and helps the community. Whether we never see that person again or whether they are a witness on something else two weeks later, we want to make sure everyone is safe and people know that if they have issues in the community they can talk to us.”

As we drove through downtown, a woman flagged Officer Pettey down, saying her daughter had found a wallet on the sidewalk. She gave it to Officer Pettey, who used the ID to track down the owner of the lost wallet. We drove across the river to SW Portland to give the man his wallet back.

Back in downtown Portland, we drove past areas officers deemed problematic over the last few days.

“Recently we’ve had issues at SW 5th and Oak,” said Pettey. “We’ve had a few shootings, we had an assault with a baseball bat at SW 6th and Harvey Milk, couple of other issues there. Those are the first few areas we will look at then we will probably go to Old Town.”

We also drove past SW 4th and Washington, where an alleged open air drug market used to be. Pettey says officers have responded to numerous calls at the location.

“That particular intersection, I think we had about ten serious OD calls we went to.” Said Pettey. “Two of them were fatalities. “I saw a girl lying the middle of a crowd that was doing drugs, yelling at us. We just stopped the car in the middle of the street to go chat with her. She was face down and dead. Literally had people yelling at me ‘hey, we don’t need you, we can take care of ourselves’ and all this stuff. We literally roll her over and start working on her and they all wondered off once they realized what was going on. As we are working on that death another death comes out two blocks away right around here.”

In April, police cleared out the interior of an infamous abandoned building downtown after a series of overdoses and rampant crime in the area.

Pettey says since it’s been boarded up, incidents directly around the building have gone down to an extent.

“What it does is it moves the dealers and the people using to different corners, like 6th and Harvey Milk, that’s very popular right now which you can see,” said Pettey. “Also Ankeny Alley behind the Chevron there’s a bunch of people back there usually. That’s the thing: they’ve knocked it down to such a violation at this point that’s its equivalent to basic street offenses that you get a traffic ticket for. So that becomes sort of an issue.”

When passed by voters in 2020, Measure 110 eliminated criminal penalties for possession of specified quantities of controlled substances.

Citation fines for possessing small amount of drugs can also be waived by completing a screening with Lines for Life, done through a hotline.

“We do have a couple of teams in the day time going out and doing some of the citations to see if we get any response on people calling the number,” said Pettey. “We do want there to be resources for that type of thing, but the difficult thing is if someone is on a powerful opioid addiction and they are going to breaking into places and stealing to go trade for fentanyl, they are not in the best position in their life to call a number, schedule drug treatment, make appointments, and that type of thing. You will find people who are so out of it that they can’t care for themselves, even if they are not actively OD’ing.”>>

<<Pettey says because Narcan is made available to those experiencing homeless, there will be some calls they go on where the overdose reversal drug has already been administered.

“So a lot of the times if I come down to an OD on 4th, the person has already had two or three,” said Pettey. “It’s kind of rare if I get there and I am the very first person. AMR is not here yet, fire is not here yet, and I talk to the civilians and they tell me the person hasn’t had Narcan yet. We apply it and wait three minutes, the prescribed period of time for the type we use, the nasal stuff.”

Both instances happened on calls we went to Monday afternoon. The first call was to SW 11th and Harvey Milk for an OD. When we got to the scene, AMR and Portland Fire & Rescue were already helping the man. Officer Pettey says Narcan was administered to him three times.>>

As he was getting back in the vehicle, a person walking down the street came up and said they believed someone was OD’ing two blocks down at SW 11th and Alder near the bus stop. Officer Pettey was the first on scene.

He hopped out and gave dispatch information before giving the man a dose of Narcan before calling for AMR and PF&R. As other first responders got to the scene, the man woke up.

“I went up, tried to speak to the gentleman and got nothing,” said Pettey. “He was breathing a little bit. A big, raspy breath every 6-12 seconds. I administered the Narcan. AMR was coming, Portland Fire & Rescue is coming and at that point it’s just waiting. I put him in the recovery position. So at three minutes I was about to give a second dose, getting it ready and he opened his eyes a little bit.”

After speaking with first responders for a few minutes, the man declined additional care, got up, and walked down the street. Both ODs were in a span of thirty minutes.

A few hours later when we were crossing Burnside into Old Town, there was a call over the radio on another OD call. As soon as an update to the call came through saying CPR was being performed, it became a code call. Officer Pettey turned the lights and sirens on and we rushed to the scene. Despite a train blocking the quickest path on Naito Parkway, we got to the scene in three minutes. We were the first to arrive as other first responders were blocked by the train. Officer Pettey was let into the apartment and administered the first dose of Narcan. Pettey came out to his car to grab another Narcan. After the second dose was administered, AMR, Portland Fire & Rescue, and other PPB officers got to the scene. The man was taken to the hospital.>>

<<As we ended our ride along, Officer Pettey went inside Central Precinct to grab more Narcan. He says there were two more OD calls on the shift, one with civilians administering Narcan.>>


[KW NOTE:  There are a couple interesting points here.  The first: most of what the cops do in a given shift does not require a law enforcement response.  And second: they aren’t usually first on the scene anyway. Together these would suggest a real question about the allocation of resources.]

[CAREPDX note: These are essentially fieldnotes of a single ridealong. Cops have a great deal of discretion in their daily tasks. While no one is suggesting that the events of that day were staged, the extent to which they have been curated by the ridealong officer (who certainly was not chosen at random) or are an accurate depiction of daily events is simply unknown. Repeated observations–varying time of day, officer in charge, engagement style, etc.–are necessary to justify the confidence expressed here (explicitly and implicitly) that everything above is a perfect representation of “a day in the life of a PPB cop.” Otherwise this is simply an attempt to have this single curated day stand in for daily life, which is borderline unethical.


<<A Black food truck owner who was attacked by a white man outside his business in Southeast Portland’s Foster-Powell neighborhood has hired an attorney to investigate the attack and the Portland Police Bureau’s response to it.

Darell Preston, 36, suffered severe facial injuries after being attacked “without warning” shortly after 7 p.m. on June 15 on the sidewalk next to his food truck, LoRell’s Chicken Shack, on Southeast Foster Road and 52nd Avenue.

Preston was on the phone with his wife when the attacker started beating Preston while calling him racist slurs, according to Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, Preston’s attorney.

LeDuc Montgomery sent a letter to the City of Portland and the Multnomah County District Attorney on Monday notifying them that she was investigating the attack, along with the “timeliness and sufficiency of the government’s response,” according to a copy of a letter reviewed by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

“We are deeply disturbed by this assault, which has left the community shaken and outraged,” LeDuc Montgomery said in a statement Monday. “We call upon law enforcement to thoroughly investigate this despicable act of violence.”>>

<<Police responded to the food cart pod on June 15, but a spokesperson for the bureau said June 20 that Preston declined to talk with the officers at length.

“It took officers several minutes to convince the victim to come out of the foot cart to talk with them,” spokesperson Terri Wallo Strauss said last week. “Once the victim was out he told officers he was delivering food and was ‘attacked.’ When the officer asked for more detail on exactly what happened, the victim refused to say more and locked himself in the cart.”

LeDuc Montgomery said this week her client was too terrified and wounded to talk to officers.

“He could hardly speak because his face had been so badly beaten in,” she said.

Detectives with the Police Bureau’s Major Crimes Unit started investigating the attack as a bias crime after speaking with Preston’s family on June 19, said police spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen.>>

<<Portland police did not immediately open a bias crime investigation because no elements of that crime were described to officers at the scene, Allen said.

“We initially did not know the full scope of what happened due to limited information provided at the scene,” Allen said. “As soon as detectives were able to reach the victim, they launched the investigation into a possible bias crime.”

A video of the assault taken across the street from the food truck appears to show a bald white man punching and kicking a man identified by LeDuc Montgomery as Preston who is crumpled on the sidewalk. The man on the sidewalk appears to struggle to sit up, only to be beaten back down, according to the video, which was reviewed by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Passing cars can be heard honking and one driver yells at the attacker to stop, according to the video. The attacker appears to stop beating the man and walks away from the scene with his hands in his pockets.>>

<<Officers initially thought they were responding to the report of an injured pedestrian struck by a car. When they arrived, firefighters who had already responded to the scene said there had been an assault and that both the attacker and victim had left the area, Allen said.

Officers found Preston at his food truck, where he gave them a general description of his attacker. When they asked for more details about the assault, he refused to say more, Allen said.

An officer gave Preston his business card and asked him to call if he changed his mind and wanted to provide more details about the assault, Allen said.

Officers searched the area but didn’t find the suspected attacker.

Responding police officers did not call an ambulance for Preston, whose wife drove him to a hospital where he was treated for “severe facial injuries,” LeDuc Montgomery’s statement said.

Photos of Preston’s face immediately after the attack show one of his eyes leaking blood and completely swollen shut, and the other eye swollen and partially filled with blood. His mouth also appears swollen.>>


<<Attorneys for a Black food cart owner say the Portland man was beaten because of his race and are now calling for an investigation into the handling of the case.

Darell Preston, owner of LoRell’s Chicken Shack on Southeast Foster Road, suffered severe facial injuries in an attack on the sidewalk on June 15. Preston’s attorney, Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, said he was beaten because of his race.>>

Preston’s attorney sent FOX 12 a video of the beating that shows a white man kicking Preston on the ground in an attack she says was unprovoked.

According to a GoFundMe page, he suffered a broken nose, fractured face and cuts to his eyes and mouth.

LeDuc Montgomery sent a letter to both the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office informing them she is investigating their response. >>

<<She said as of Monday, when inquiring with PPB and the district attorney’s office about the status of the investigation, she received no response.>>

<<PPB said it is being viewed as a bias crime investigation.>>

<<LeDuc Montgomery said Tuesday she has been in contact with the district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office said a deputy district attorney has been assigned to it.

No arrests have been made in this case.>>



<<MURDERS DOWN SLIGHTLY IN PORTLAND: Portland’s homicide numbers were slightly down as of May, mirroring national trends. There were 36 homicides in the first five months of this year, compared to 39 during the same period in 2022. At a routine press briefing Tuesday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt highlighted more reasons for optimism that the recent wave of violence in Portland may be receding.

The city has seen a 14% decline in homicides with guns. Gresham had an even sharper decline, from seven homicides to one. Schmidt noted, however, that his office has responded to more homicides so far this month than it did in June of last year. There were three in the past week alone, including a case in which a son allegedly beat his mother to death with a baseball bat. Schmidt said his office is partnering with Oregon Health & Science University to form a commission to review recent murders and what could have been done to stop them. “It’s the same kind of health approach and methodology that led to seat belts in cars,” he says. Here’s one thing the commission might find: Cheap guns have proliferated on Portland’s streets. “It’s a downward spiral,” Schmidt says. “The more that people are in fear and are actually in jeopardy, the more people want to get guns.”>>



<<The husband of a woman who was killed in a crash during a police chase is now opening up about the heartbreaking situation.>>

<<Lauran Parise said their family will never be same after losing their wife Jennifer Parise, 40, in a car accident Sunday evening. It’s a sudden, unimaginable loss that still hasn’t fully sunken in.>>

<<Their family’s car was one of four that were hit by a suspect during a police chase. Investigators said just after 6 p.m. Sunday, Gresham police spotted a car near Northeast 181st and Pacific Street that matched the description of one involved in a string of armed robberies.

The pursuit started near Northeast 181st and Glisan Street, and the high-speed chase ended near Glisan Street and 147th Avenue.>>

<<Nathaniel Franklin Jr. is being charged with manslaughter, assault, DUII, and driving while suspended.>>



<<Multnomah County Auditor Jennifer McGuirk has launched an investigation into the county’s contract with its ambulance provider, American Medical Response, citing public complaints and WW’s report last month that the county had declined to fine the company despite its poor performance.

AMR has been failing to meet on-time performance standards for over a year, blaming an industrywide shortage of paramedics.

McGuirk asked County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson whether the county knew, prior to WW’s report, of a highly publicized hit-and-run in which the victim died shortly after an ambulance arrived late. Vega Pederson said the county indeed knew. Yet it hasn’t fined AMR. The county’s contract with AMR runs until 2028.

At the direction of the auditor, County Ombudsperson Cheryl Taylor told the chair in an email last week that she was looking into the contract:

“I will mainly look at the parts of the contract that relate to response times and the remedies available to the county when there is a material breach of the contract, such as the ongoing failure of AMR to meet the response time requirements. There are valid questions around these issues, and the public has an interest in the answers to those questions.”>>



<<Apropos of nothing, did you know that the Portland City Council’s current boss, the Portland Business Alliance, have changed their name?

Now they’re calling themselves the “Portland Metro Council”—but don’t worry! They’ll still be exerting an incredible amount of influence over every single decision made by the current council, while lining the pockets of their most wealthy members with lotsa moolah! (But you have to admit the new name sounds less like an evil special interest group, doesn’t it? Which is exactly the point.)>>