9/2/23 News Update


<<A chief of police on the Oregon Coast faces criminal charges amid allegations that he took drugs and money from his station’s evidence lock-up.

Tillamook Police Chief Raymond Rau, a man with nearly 30 years experience in law enforcement, has led the department since July 2021. He’s now facing four misdemeanor counts in a “missing and tampered evidence” case.

Prosecutors filed charges Wednesday for two counts of first-degree official misconduct, one count of second-degree theft, and one count of third-degree theft.

The charges contend that Rau knowingly did “remove controlled substances from the Tillamook Police evidence locker room … with intent to obtain a benefit.” According to those charges, the value of the drugs were estimated at less than $100. They also allege that Rau took cash with a total value of $100 or more — the precise amount is not listed.

Court paperwork says that the offenses occurred between October 1 of 2021 and May 8 of 2023.

The Tillamook Herald Leader broke the story, reporting that Oregon State Police began an investigation in May after an audit of the police department’s property room revealed that evidence had been tampered with or removed in more than 80 cases dating back to 2005, with the vast majority of those incidents occurring since 2021.>>

<<Police Chief Rau has reportedly been on administrative leave since May.>>


<<The police chief of the Tillamook Police Department faces four charges related to the removal of controlled substances from an evidence locker, according to the county’s district attorney’s office.

Chief Raymond Rau was on leave for a month while officials conducted an investigation into the department’s handling of evidence between October 2021 and April 2023.

Investigators say Rau stole more than $100 in cash and less than $100-worth of controlled substances from the evidence locker.

Rau now faces four misdemeanor charges, including second-degree theft, third-degree theft, and two charges of first-degree official misconduct.

In May, the Oregon State Police conducted an audit of the Tillamook Police Department evidence storage and found missing or apparently tampered evidence in 83 cases going back to 2006.



<<One of three people charged in the murder of a Clark County deputy was sentenced to just over 27 years in prison on Thursday.

Earlier this month, a jury found Abran Raya-Leon guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Detective Jeremy Brown.>>

<<The shooting happened in July 2021 in Vancouver while Deputy Brown was conducting surveillance on Raya-Leon, his brother Guillermo Raya and Misty Raya.

Guillermo Raya is accused of pulling the trigger and will be on trial for aggravated murder this fall.>>



<<The current district attorney is Mike Schmidt, who was elected in a lopsided victory in 2020 during racial justice protests.

Campaigning as a reformer of the criminal justice system, Schmidt won with 77% of the vote. But he’s faced strong criticism during his first term from those who feel his policies have led to rising violence and crime.>>

<<Here’s an excerpt from the conversation with Schmidt.>>

<<Why do you want to run for re-election?

“When I ran in the first place, it was because I knew we could do things better, and by that, I mean do things to make us more safe as a community. I ran the criminal justice commission before I became the district attorney, and so I’ve been into data and research, I’ve gotten to travel the world, I went to Norway. We all have heard, over and over again, that the United States is the most incarcerated nation in the world. We’re not the safest. We know that it can be done in smarter ways. And so my focus has been on smart reforms that I think bring together the reforms that will make us more safe by doing them.”

What do you see as your biggest accomplishment since being elected?

“We’ve created a number of programs, things that I’m proud of. We started a new treatment court that I’m very proud of. The recidivism rate of that treatment court is 10%; recidivism, of course, meaning committing a new crime within three years. The same folks, when they get sent to prison, their recidivism rate is 50%. Very proud of that work, it’s called the STEP Court.

“I’m proud of our justice integrity unit that works on getting old convictions right. You may have seen news about the Department of Motor Vehicles and a bunch of wrongful convictions from across the state. It was my office that uncovered that. And now we’re talking about tens, if not dozens, of people who have been wrongfully convicted and we’re correcting that.

“I’ve got prosecutors now back into communities. One of the first things when I was the district attorney, I met with other DAs from around the country, and they said, ‘Multnomah County, you guys are leaders in neighborhood prosecution. How’s that going?’ And I said, ‘that program was cut years ago.’ They said, ‘how can that be?’ Since then, we’ve built it back, working with the county commission. I now have four prosecutors in neighborhoods so that they can work directly with community members to work on the issues that will make them feel more safe.”

Why do you think public perception of your job performance is so low?

“I talk with community members all the time, people from Portland … about what their issues are. And there is a feeling of unsafety, and I think we have to address that. That’s why I’m working on things like auto theft, with our new auto theft task force, retail theft, obviously homicides and gun violence. I’m focusing on the issues that I think are driving a lot of members of our community not to feel safe.”

At the beginning of your term, you dropped misdemeanor and felony charges against more than 500 protesters. Do you regret that?

“I don’t regret that. You have to remember, I came in on the 60th day of the protests. My first day, the former district attorney resigned, the chief of police resigned, and I started on Aug. 1, day 60, right after the Trump administration had sent federal people to our streets to do all kinds of things, using munitions. And we’ve just seen report after report about the violence and the gas and other things being used by Portland police, and also by the federal troops who were sent here. So it was a very challenging time.

“I came out with a policy that said, look, if you’re damaging windows, if you’re destroying property, if you’re lighting things on fire, we’re going to prosecute you. If you’re just in the streets and you’re just demonstrating to say that our system is not getting it right, those aren’t cases that we’re going to use our resources on. I think it was the right policy. The challenge has been the messaging afterwards. I mean, Donald Trump was talking about me in speeches. And that messaging, I think, broke through, that, oh that means we’re not prosecuting anything. Not true. Our prosecution rates in our office are now higher than what my predecessor’s were. So we’re doing the work, there’s just some misinformation out there.”

So you think you’re prosecuting enough?

“Oh, I do. I do. What a lot of folks maybe don’t understand, and it’s a complex system, I can only prosecute cases where police officers make an arrest and have evidence. So we get those cases from them, they’re kind of the pitchers, we’re the catchers, we take those cases. And what I track is the percentage of the cases they’re sending us, what percentage are we prosecuting? And that number has been going up consistently since I started, and now we’re at a higher point than when my predecessor held this office. So, the way you get there is not by accident, it’s by hard work and it’s actually by collaboration with law enforcement partners, helping them on building better cases, gathering evidence, and then my prosecutors take it from there.”

Do you think you have the support of the rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau?

“I go out with Portland police, I do ride-alongs, I went with the behavioral health unit, I’ve gone with the FIT team, which is the focused intervention team that works on gun violence, I’ve attended the citizens academy, I meet with the chief on a regular basis. Like I talked about, these two new task forces that we’ve got, the retail theft and the auto theft, which are getting really great results, even early on, are showing that collaboration. So I think it’s growing. I started in a tough point, I started in a tough spot in the protests, but we’re working together and we’re getting good results.”>>



<< When neighbors agreed to welcome in the city’s first large-scale sanctioned homeless camp to their corner of Southeast Portland just a few months ago, the deal stipulated that no outside camps would be allowed within 1,000 feet of the site. Nonetheless, homeless camps are already beginning to pop up within that perimeter.

Portland opened up the first of six planned “Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites” in July, with this first example sited in the Clinton Triangle off Southeast Powell Boulevard and Gideon Street. According to Mayor Ted Wheeler, the city has funding arranged for the first three of these sites.

Three months before the big day of the site’s opening, city officials met nearly a dozen times with the surrounding neighborhood associations, ostensibly to address concerns about the site and draft a Good Neighbor Agreement. Part of that agreement prohibits other homeless camps within 1,000 feet of the site.

California-based nonprofit Urban Alchemy, the group hired to operate the site, was also tasked with cleaning and patrolling the perimeter. This week, tents and trash were accumulating in parts of that area — although not all of it is within the city’s power to change.>>

<<They’re not located on city property but on private railroad property, meaning it’s up to the railroad to see that they’re removed.>>

<<According to the city of Portland, outreach workers from Urban Alchemy walk through the surrounding neighborhoods daily, connecting with homeless people outside of the shelter site. The city wants business owners to call Urban Alchemy if they have concerns.

But Urban Alchemy isn’t actually tasked with doing campsite removals.

They can engage with homeless people around the site and attempt to connect them with shelter, but it’s the job of Portland’s Impact Reduction Team to remove camps. The mayor’s office said that they are building a weekly security meeting to include the nonprofit, Portland police, TriMet and railroad company officials to discuss camping issues like these.>>



<< As downtown Portland continues to be the source of national controversy, Mayor Ted Wheeler is hoping to contract a California-based nonprofit for outreach patrols in the city center.

That nonprofit? Urban Alchemy – the same organization that staffed Portland’s first temporary alternative shelter site.>>

<<According to the mayor’s office, their contract with Urban Alchemy would create various deescalation and ambassador patrols. However, it has not been decided where those patrols would be nor how many would operate.>>

<<The proposed contract is one of two efforts to bring a greater security presence to downtown. Another would expand downtown Portland’s Clean and Safe District, bringing 24/7 unarmed security to what would become a hotel of a safety district near the shopping and hotel areas.>>

<<Wheeler’s plan comes as Portland police has struggled to maintain patrols at its central precinct: The bureau should have 15 to 17 officers for the early evening hours and between 12 and 16 from night until morning, but the bureau currently reports there are times with as few as 2 officers for the entire area.>>



<<The story has been this: Portland’s downtown is failing terribly to recover from the pandemic. This claim was recently repeated by a study conducted by the University of Toronto. Portland “had the third-slowest recovery of 63 major cities in the United States and Canada.” Why? If you read papers like the Seattle Times, blame, again and again, is placed on progressive politics and sentimental fellow feeling (the root of socialism). At the core of this explanation (though this is never mentioned) is the belief, among a specific class of white journalists, that Portland’s Black Lives Matter protests went too far. The idea of Black Lives Matters was, according to this view, more than enough (put a sign in your yard or on your window); taking it to the streets for 100 days, however, was nothing but fanatical and very bad for business. The City of Roses is paying for many progressive sins.

Then a new report about Portland’s downtown was cited in an August 27 Oregonian post, “Downtown Portland’s recovery: Better than advertised?” (I have no idea why the editors used the word “advertised” in the headline.) But what was this about? It seems data concerning the Portland business district dramatically changed when its size was redefined—and not by that much. This new definition raised downtown’s present activity from a catastrophic 37% of pre-pandemic activity (2019) to a not-so-bad 65%.>>

<<The economist Mary C. King correctly criticized the University of Toronto report on August 16 in her opinion piece titled “Claims stating downtown’s pandemic recovery is prolonged lack evidence.” She already recognized its flaws and pointed to data that showed “Portland’s office vacancy rate in June 2023 was better than the national average, and better than places that get called ‘business-friendly,’ like Dallas, Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee.” My recent visit to the city confirmed the points King makes. It’s not as dire as the Seattle Times or other mainstream papers and conservative blogs insist it is. It was nowhere near an economic wasteland or overrun by the kind of criminals who, like those at the opening of RoboCop, are totally fearless and free to do anything that comes into their deranged minds. Some businesses were doing very well, others were not. The food was still great, and the city still has, unlike Seattle, lots of legit dive bars.

<<The problem here is not any of this dying business. It’s how the homeless crisis has been reduced to claims and counter-claims of its negative economic impact.>>

<<Seattle leads in attracting top tech talent, and Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, and people are leaving Portland—not because of Antifa and other undesirables but, in the words of the previously mentioned economist, in search of “more affordable housing.”

But this situation—the ravings of the right confronted by the left’s hard facts—is not ideal. It means the real and historically deep causes of the homeless crisis are never addressed. All that ends up happening is one side says Seattle/Portland/Vancouver is dying and the other side shows it is not. This situation benefits the right because we on the left end up defending not the homeless but the idea that business activity and growth are what matter (office space occupancy, the number of tech workers, indicators of economic expansion, and so on).

But the job of the left is to go where the right will not. We must say that the capitalist city has never resolved housing affordability. Never.>>



<<An assistant high school football coach in Washington who lost his job during a controversy over his public post-game prayers is back on the sideline after the U.S. Supreme Court held that his practice was protected by the Constitution.

But after fighting to be rehired for seven years, Joe Kennedy isn’t sure he wants it anymore, and the thought of kneeling in the spotlight again makes him queasy.>>

<<“Knowing that everybody’s expecting me to go do this kind of gives me a lot of angst in my stomach,” said Kennedy, standing near midfield, where he intends to kneel when the game clock expires Friday. “People are going to freak out that I’m bringing God back into public schools.”

After asking Kennedy to keep any on-field praying non-demonstrative or apart from students, the school district placed him on leave and eventually declined to renew his contract. Officials said they were concerned that tolerating Kennedy’s public post-game prayers would suggest government endorsement of religion, in violation of the separation of church and state.

Kennedy’s fight to get his job back quickly became a cultural touchstone, pitting the religious liberties of government employees against longstanding principles protecting students from religious coercion.

He lost at every court level until the merits of his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court last year. The conservative majority sided with him, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing “the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”>>


[KW NOTE: The Bible strongly advises that prayer belongs in the closet. (Matthew 6:6).]