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February 15th, 2012 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: To Protect and Serve... the Banks?

Why are Portland Police guarding private banks?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

The downtown Bank of America has had a uniformed Portland cop stationed on site for months. Can’t these banksters afford their own security guards? They already ripped off the taxpayers—now we have to pay for their private army, too? 

—Drew

There, there, Drew; try to calm yourself—you’re getting flecks of spittle on my Snuggie.

Not that I don’t sympathize with your bomb-throwing, anti-capitalist stance—in fact, I was totally gonna rise up and throw off my chains as soon as this Golden Girls marathon is over. But first, what gives with the flatfeet of law enforcement getting cozy with the jackboot of crass capitalism?

“The Police Bureau has a secondary employment program, administered by the police officers union,” says Lt. Robert King, a PPB spokesman. “The wages are paid by the business, not [by] tax dollars.”

The secondary employment program means that any private entity can contract with the police union to have actual uniformed cops on site. Blazers games are the standard (but by no means the only) example of this arrangement.

See, Drew? Wealthy private interests aren’t ripping off the taxpayers to employ real cops. They’re ripping off their customers, then taking the money and handing it to the cops directly. I’m sure you feel loads better.

There are limitations to the program—no criminals need apply, for example, and there has to be a public safety angle involved.

More vaguely, there has to be a public benefit to the job. As cool as it would be to have a cop follow you around saying “Yeah, boyee,” à la Flavor Flav, unless you can prove this proposal has civic merit, you won’t get one no matter how much money you have. (Of course, you can still get the real Flavor Flav. Probably for a lot less, too.)

 
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