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Unscrupulous Journalism

The actions of law enforcement in our jurisdiction face an inordinate level of scrutiny. In a recent KOIN online article, exit interviews from PPB members graphically highlighted how the local political apparatus wants criminals held accountable, but prevents Officers from doing their jobs. The expectations placed on us are, at times, comical. When the actions of law enforcement are called into question, unscrupulous journalists often take advantage of these situations to further an agenda. I say agenda, b/c often these articles are written without context, and use unnecessarily incendiary language.

As public employees, journalists are legally allowed access to employee personnel files to include disciplinary action and reports related to, among other things, uses of force. We have members, both past and present, who have experienced this sort of biased reporting. Essentially, the facts are skewed in such a way as to sensationalize. Recent reporting in a Willamette Week article regarding two of our own is just such an example. The author made no attempt to verify the claims and appears to take considerable license in his assertions. To be clear, you will never make a comment to a media outlet regarding a work matter. Not only could this be construed as a violation of agency policy, but more importantly, you have no idea how your comments may be used. The E-Board has developed relationships with a few sympathetic journalists, but some of these outlets remain uninterested in anything other than vilifying police conduct.

Our bargaining unit will resolutely back our members under investigation. Everyone deserves due process and for the facts to reveal themselves in a systematic and unbiased manner. Journalists are not confined to such parameters, and unfortunately, rely entirely on an unwritten industry compass that requires journalistic self-control. It is important to appreciate that we work in a jurisdiction where law enforcement is inexplicably and unnecessarily demonized. We advocate that the accused be provided the decency of withholding judgment according to Constitutional protections that every American deserves.

Our members have been placed in a position that is out of their control. They have no ability to publicly defend themselves against those that create, rather than report, the “news”. This is an incredibly frustrating and isolating period for them and their families. Anyone of us, at any time, right or wrong, could be the subject of an investigation and placed under similar duress. Although we are not privy to the details of a given investigation, our support is provided unanimously to our members and their families. Not as a blind endorsement of their innocence, but rather as owing to them the support of impartiality until the facts are ultimately revealed. You won’t find another occupation outside of law enforcement that experiences this level of scrutiny. As such, we are behind our members and their families 100%!

Thank you for everything you do!



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