The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated...
So says the US Department of Justice, in a just-issued report criticizing the Portland, Oregon Police Department's use of force as it revolves around the mentally ill. A number of incidents are cited in detail in the document, describing police actions taken after officers knew or could reasonably determine that their target was mentally ill.
Here are excerpts from the detailed cases:
"The intrusion on a mentally ill individual's Fourth Amendment rights is substantial..."
if the person is
being shot with a bean bag gun and shocked with an ECW ((taser)) in the back...
despite the fact that subject's hands were visible and the officers never observed a sword, or any other weapon, in the subject's possession.
being shot with an ECW multiple times, in both probe and drive stun mde, and hit multiple times...
((despite complying)) with the officers' request to come out of his room, place his hands on top of his head, and take a seat in the hallway.
being shocked with an ECW four times without warning while experiencing a medical crisis...
((despite the fact that)) the officers encountered an unarmed, naken man laying on the floor of his apartment screaming for help. It turned out the suspect was diabetic and experiencing a medical emergency.
being punched 7-10 times in the face.
((After)) the officer caught the subject by the leg and threw the subject to the ground. ((The subject was)) an unarmed man who had been standing in the rain for over an hour.
being pepper sprayed in the face and then shocked with an ECW four times...
the subject raised his fists to the officer's face in an effort to show the officer his hospital identification bracelet... The subject neither displayed a weapon nor made any agressive movements towards the officer...
One has to question who has the worse mental illness -- the people the police are being sent after to pacify, or the sick f***s who do these things in the name of the law when they encounter people acting strangely.
we ... believe PPB is enaging in a pattern or practice of using excessive force... We found that PPB employs practices that escalate the use of force... when the force could have been avoided or minimized... our examination identified concerns regarding the failure to provide adequate and timely access to medical care...
Not every officer is well suited to effectively deal with people with mental illness. For example, during our investigation a patrol officer stated that his job was "to put people in jail, not to provide social services."While the Department of Justice notes all these things, and details out all these incidents, they do not seem appalled. In fact, even "concerned" might be an overstatement.
We recognize the challenges that police officers in Portland and elsewhere confront in addressing the needs of people with mental illness.If you read the entire document, you will note that none of the recommendations it makes involve throwing officers into solitary confinement for years when they assault citizens, as is done when citizens assault officers.
We hope to continue working with PPB in an amicable and cooperative fashing to resolve our oustanding concerns...
Nor do any of the recommendations involve making it a crime for an officer not to stop another officer from perpetuating violence upon the mentally ill (or others, for that matter).
Nor do they involve trying hard to avoid hiring people who like to beat the shit of out their fellow citizens; instead they want to "train" the thugs they already employ to use less force, avoid using force, give warnings before using force, etc, etc.
It gets worse. The City of Portland's Statement of Intent concerning the DoJ Investigation and report contains the following gem:
The City does not concede that there is a pattern or practice...and then goes on to promise that they will do things that they most likely have no intention whatsoever of actually doing given that they do not concede that there is a problem in the first place.
There is a lot more interesting stuff in the report than I could possibly cover in this diary, and I urge you to read it. A final thought:
This Federal investigation only covered police interaction with the mentally ill. We are left with the obvious question:
If this behavior is what police officers are willing and eager to employ against those who are obviously mentally ill, against those most in need of being protected, what kind of behavior are they likely to be willing to employ against those of us who are merely regular citizens, whom they have sworn to protect and serve?