Portland, OR - After the city of Portland posted a job listing for a Police Chief to police a city with a history of "systemic racism," Mayor Ted Wheeler has responded to the backlash.
In his response, Mayor Ted Wheeler said that the job posting is just stating facts. Mayor Wheeler went on to attack the city's police officers for releasing an "inflammatory and divisive" statement when they said that the job listing makes the city's officers sound racist.
In the job listing for Police Chief, which opened on Monday, the city said:
The State of Oregon and its largest city, Portland, share a history of legally sanctioned systemic racism with legally enforced exclusionary practices. Given this history, the successful candidate must demonstrate the capacity and commitment to expand on existing strategies to improve relationships with and service provision to Portland's communities of color, ensuring that equity is a bedrock of policing in Portland.
You might be wondering who wrote this crap. According to Oregon Live, the Mayor had planned to use an outside agency to help them with their nationwide search for a new chief. Then, in April, the Mayor suddenly decided to use the City's human resources bureau to conduct the search. They invited local activists to help craft the job description. Thanks to this community inclusion, the job description contains requirements like:
Significant understanding of the need to address disparities in the criminal justice system in order to provide equitable services to all members of the community. Willingness to learn about the history of racism in Portland and how it impacts police relationships with communities of color.
Mayor Ted Wheeler was happy with the final description.
“I actually didn't find the language, nor did anybody else who read the job description find the language particularly incendiary,” Mayor Wheeler said, according to KPTV. “It just states a bunch of facts, and it says we want somebody who supports diversity and who will work with the different part of our community and the different people in our community.”
In his statement Mayor Ted Wheeler stated, "I have never called into question the values and beliefs of our rank and file police officers. I have tremendous respect for the hard work they do every day in the community. At a time that calls for a shared vision and unity of purpose regarding the future of the Portland Police Bureau, today’s letter from the Portland Police Association is needlessly inflammatory and divisive."
The Portland Police Association, made up of the rand-and-file officers, disagrees.
"I would challenge him to go down to any role call today at any precinct, and ask people what they feel about that, because this is not just the union getting up on its hind legs, this is actually the rank-and-file, and command staff, and people who work there as employees that are non-sworn, all feel embarrassed,” PPA President Daryl Turner said. “They're all angry, they're upset because it falls right at their doorstep.”
"Understandably, the verbiage and the tenor of the job posting left many in the rank and file angry and confused, as the clear implication from the posting is that the Police Bureau and its members have supported a racist culture in the City," Turner said in a statement. "The job announcement does not accurately reflect our Police Bureau and its members. Certainly, it does nothing to aid in recruiting and retaining a police chief, let alone rank and file officers."
Portland's current police chief, Mike Marshman, was appointed last June with a three-year contract.
The Portland Police Association announced that they support Chief Marshman and oppose a national search for an outside candidate. Chief Marshman has announced that he is applying for his current position through the application process.
"I don't want to abandon ship when things are starting to move forward. I feel obligated to do so,'' Marshman told Oregon Live. "I think morale is on the uptick. We're looking to hire another 15 to 18 officers next month. I feel obligated to continue to work to connect with people who work here and with the community. Those two things are what keeps me going on.''
Despite the chief's willingness to apply for the position, it seems that the city is intent on removing him. The city is spending almost $20,000 searching for somebody to replace him.They are doing so two years before his contract is over and with the knowledge that they will have to pay Chief Mike Marshman over $86,000 severance pay for ending his contract early.