Digest: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A new contract with the Portland police union

The City of Portland and the Portland Police Association announced yesterday that they’ve negotiated a new contract. Both parties seem pleased with their agreement, which means that the average Portland resident has cause for concern. City commissioners will hear public comment during three upcoming events:

Portland residents should certainly take these opportunities to voice concerns. However, given the vocal support the contract has already received from Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler (who also holds the position of mayor), Commissioner Mingus Mapps, and Commissioner Dan Ryan, the City of Portland will likely ratify the contract as it stands. Three commissioners constitute a majority for Portland’s tiny city council. PPA’s membership will vote on the contract, likely later today.

The contract and documentation on the negotiation process is pretty hard to follow, but Alex Zielinski has written a break-down of what’s in the contract worth reading. The shortest summary is that little has changed in the expectations that the City of Portland has for its police officers. The new contract is based on the previous contract and contains similar flaws. Most community requests for changing how the Portland Police Bureau operates, including feedback gathered by Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty at listening sessions in 2019, did not affect negotiations. Negotiations were also conducted through closed-door mediation, meaning that this week is the first time Portland residents are learning about the contents of the new contract.

The timing of this new contract drives home the power of the police union in so many different ways:

These examples are just that — examples of the problems with Portland’s police force. There are far more, from PPB and PPA’s targeting of a city commissioner to a recent evaluation of political and racial biases within the bureau. Covering them all would require more than a digest.

The new contract between PPA and the City of Portland is nothing more than a stamp of approval on the violent behavior of the Portland Police Bureau without guaranteeing even basic levels of service for Portland residents. It is guaranteed to cost the city far more than just what is budgeted in terms of salary increases — the contract essentially guarantees that the city will face more lawsuits from PPB’s victims as well as the expense of dealing with the DOJ’s settlement for years to come. And it is guaranteed this contract will cost the residents of Portland more abuse, more violence, and more lives.

By Thursday Bram

Thursday Bram founded PDX.Vote after making numerous zines, newsletters, and other media about politics in Portland, Oregon. Thursday has also written for publications ranging from Autostraddle.com to Entrepreneur Magazine. You can find more of Thursday's work at ThursdayBram.com.