Monday, September 17, 2012

Oregon Cops Used Unnecessary Force On Mentally Ill

(CNN) -- Federal civil rights investigators have found "reasonable cause" to believe that police in Portland, Oregon, use "unnecessary or unreasonable force" with persons who have mental illness, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The department's civil rights division and U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon issued a letter to Portland Mayor Sam Adams stating that local and federal authorities will "continue our collaborative relationship to craft sustainable remedies."
In the 42-page letter, federal officials outline remedies that include training and new policies to investigate alleged police misconduct.
Investigators found cause to believe that the Portland Police Bureau engages in "a pattern or practice of using excessive force in encounters involving people with actual or perceived mental illness."
"We found instances that support a pattern of dangerous uses of force against persons who posed little or no threat and who could not, as a result of their mental illness, comply with officers' commands," said the letter, which was signed by Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez and U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall.
"We also found that PPB employs practices that escalate the use of force where there were clear earlier junctures when the force could have been avoided or minimized."
One incident in December 2010 involved several officers who used "repeated closed-fist punches and repeated shocking of a subject who was to be placed on a mental health hold," the letter said.
Adams, in a posting on his web page, vowed that the city and its Police Bureau would improve quickly, and listed a series of changes.

Changes? Great.  But are we supposed to believe that because of improper training, bullying and abusing people with "real or perceived" mental illness was ever considered okay?  Does being an ass to a person, setting them off so you can use the power you want to use a valid strategy for dealing with anyone?

Promise of change is better than nothing.  However, I refuse to believe that training or policy did not allow officers to use common sense.  We've covered this month an old woman pulled from her car, a petite nurse body slammed into the ground, and learned that police set up the Occupy movement and enticed them to turn criminal so they could be busted.

We need cops to be the good guys.  It's not easy, but if it was easy everyone would do it.

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