counter stats
What Happened To Fouad Kaady: October 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Portland Residents Protest Police Killings


Around fifty people gathered at the North Park Blocks in
downtown Portland today to protest police brutality and the recent
death of James Chasse who died in police custody. The event was held
in conjunction with similar events around the country to highlight
police abuses, but was organized autonomously of the national
coalition. Most participants dressed in black to show support for the
families of people killed by police.

People started banging on plastic bucket drums and a parade formed
behind the banner "Cops and Klan go hand in hand." People paraded
through downtown streets chanting against police abuse and the system
that fosters it. Portland police remained mostly out of sight except
for a few plainclothes officers videotaping the crowd.

The parade ended in Pioneer Square where people unrelated to protest
held signs reading "free hugs." Many people accepted the free hugs.
People soon gathered again to talk about police abuse and why they
were there. The names of people killed by the police in the Portland
area were announced over the megaphone. One man spoke in detail about
how his cousin Fouad Kaady was murdered by police. These speeches
attracted more people from the square who were curious what was going

The event ended without incident. Some participants expressed the
need to do more outreach and education to get more people involved in
the future. Others expressed the continued importance of people
standing in solidarity with the families and friends of people
victimized by the police.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Local police fire back on shooting rules

from the Oregonian

Last week I wrote about a former policeman who questioned whether police these days are trained to worry too much about their own welfare.

Several local policemen responded that officers are not paid to get hurt or die. Wrote one: "Bottom line, when people arm themselves with knives or other weapons, and refuse to follow commands given to them by officers, they are likely to be shot before they can take action to harm or kill an officer. That is how it should be."

Jeff Leighty, a 20-year veteran and president of the Oregon State Police Officers' Association, e-mailed that in response to my column he'd canceled his subscription to The Oregonian.

By that logic, we should all vote against police levies simply because we disagree with something cops have done.

The truth is, both sides of the debate about shootings involving officers seem frozen in their own beliefs.

When I wrote, last year, that I understood the difficult spot cops found themselves in during the odd string of events that led to the tragic fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Fouad Kaady in Sandy, I got many angry responses about my blind allegiance to police.

One of the people who disagreed with me about that shooting was Ray O'Driscoll, the former San Francisco Bay Area policeman I wrote about last week.

Many current and former police officers were upset I allowed O'Driscoll, whose 12 years of police work came 30 years ago, to question current police training.

Of course, it makes no difference whether O'Driscoll was ever a cop. His questions are reasonable questions long debated by deadly force experts.

One of the nation's most prominent researchers in police training and accountability, James Fyfe, was serving as deputy commissioner for training of the New York Police Department when he died last year. Earlier in his career, Fyfe put in 16 years of patrol work that earned him seven NYPD citations.

In between his two stints at the NYPD, Fyfe was a professor of criminal justice at three colleges and wrote seven books about police work.

Fyfe was a perpetual critic of police training, saying it over-emphasizes the dangers of police work, which he found to be far safer than everything from bartending to construction. And he found that police guidelines are rarely specific enough about when to use deadly force or what the repercussions will be for misusing it. As a result, Fyfe said police often perceive danger where there is none and fire away.

Fyfe's studies concluded that there is little relationship between the number of people police shoot and how safe the police, or the public, are.

Fyfe believed the way to create more useful police standards is for communities to be outspoken about what they want and what they will not tolerate.

If communities don't force cops to include citizens in the discussion, nothing is likely to change, Fyfe said.

Of the dozens of responses I got from cops last week, only retired Portland policeman Jim Powell seemed interested in discussing the issue.

A 26-year veteran, he was a firearms and defensive tactics instructor and served as one of eight regional training coordinators in Oregon.

He didn't like my column. But after his anger cooled, he wanted to talk.

Powell, like Fyfe, believes police training can always improve. But he believes local police are carefully trained to consider all their other options before they pull the trigger.

He's never favored any type of citizen review committee to look at shootings involving officers. Still, he agrees that police policies must mirror what the community wants.

But public input, he says, "needs to occur on the front end," not during the public outcry after police shoot and kill.

I don't agree with everything Powell said. He doesn't agree with everything I said. But we've agreed to continue the conversation.

It may not lead anywhere at all.

But it beats dropping a subscription or refusing to pay for police.