Monday, June 29, 2015

A Man with Sword Subdues Portland Police Officers / You're kidding, right?

An article of interest in The Oregonian 6/28/15 by Elizabeth Hovde:  “Police Afraid to Police Creates Public Danger.”

“…June 7, a citizen called Portland police about a man described to be in his 30s threatening people with an approximately 4-foot-long Samurai sword.  This was at a pedestrian-popular riverfront location…”  “The call came in at 9:27PM.  Police responded.  The man refused to put the sword down…”  “Sword guy threw rocks at officers, and he was eventually hit five times with bean bag bullets, which didn’t much phase him.”  “A little after midnight, police left him with his sword near the riverfront.”

Ms. Hovde’s article is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but she has described a very real problem with modern law enforcement.  Basically, is law enforcement starting to ‘pull-back,’ concerned about confrontations that might lead to a civil suit or public criticism – even if that decision might subsequently put the public in danger?

In my opinion the answer is ‘yes.’  The officers were apparently dealing with a mentally troubled individual armed with a potentially deadly weapon.  However, when the man would not give-in to their demands after being shot several times with a bean bag gun, supervisory personnel decided they’d just call it night – and hope he didn’t kill anyone.  Is this what the motto:  ‘To Serve and Protect’ implies?  Apparently, that is the case around this locale.  Maybe the Portland Police Bureau needs a new motto?  Some of you might have some good ideas.

Portland police administrators may have a justification, or more accurately a rationalization, as to why their officers walked away from a mentally ill man brandishing a sword in a public area; but, under the described circumstances, I can’t really think of a really good one to offer; but I will give it a try.

The reported criminal act alleged was 'brandishing a sword and scaring the public.'  The police categorized that crime as ‘Menacing,’ which is a misdemeanor under Oregon law.  When the police arrived the ‘victims’ (who had summoned the police) had left the scene.  Police can’t make a misdemeanor arrest unless it occurs in their presence – and they might say that the ‘victim or victims’ were not present to file a complaint, therefore they have no basis to arrest – a somewhat tortured logic under the circumstances.

However, it has been my understanding that throwing rocks at police officers, while brandishing a deadly weapon, would constitute at very least misdemeanor assault, disorderly conduct and/or probably ‘menacing,’ which would land you in the hoosegow under most circumstances.  It would appear that crazy courage has a demoralizing effect on our local gendarmes.  Perhaps, they should have called the SWAT Team.  Well, maybe SWAT quits at midnight too – and you know how that overtime money can drain a police budget.

Good news:  Apparently “sword guy” has not killed anyone so far – at least no one we’ve discovered.  I wonder if they ever identified this guy.  Oh, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

True Nelson
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