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January 30th, 2013 ANDREA DAMEWOOD | Q & A
 

Hotseat: Daryl Turner

The Portland Police union boss talks about the new order in City Hall.

news3_3913IMAGE: V. Kapoor
Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner has a framed cartoon drawing in his office of him pulling the pants off a surprised Sam Adams.

Needless to say, the leader of the city’s approximately 900 rank-and-file officers won’t miss much about his well-documented stormy relationship with the former mayor—even if Turner declined to talk about his past with Adams.

Turner, 53, has been a Portland cop for 20 years and union president since  July 2010. He’s hoping to hit the reset button with City Hall. His relationship with Police Chief Mike Reese is cordial, and he’s “cautiously optimistic” about dealing with new Mayor Charlie Hales.

Contract negotiations are expected to start this month, at a time when Hales pledges to cut 10 percent across the board from every city bureau. Several high-profile cases threaten to sour relationships: the legal battle over the firing and rehiring of Officer Ron Frashour after his fatal shooting of an unarmed Aaron Campbell in 2010, and changes in use-of-force policy compelled by the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation last year. 

Still, the self-described “old-school” cop says everything will go just fine—as long as all sides remember one key thing: respect.


WW: What do you think about Charlie Hales thus far?

Daryl Turner: I feel confident about the future, with our relationship to City Hall and the mayor. I think you’ll see a more collaborative direction from the new leaders. I think you’ll see less fanfare in the media, and actually getting more done, just moving forward.

Hales is keeping Chief Mike Reese on the job—is that good or bad news?

Reese and I came into our jobs with a lot on our plates: The Frashour case was just starting to build up and there were contract negotiations. We have a great relationship. We always understand that whether we agree or disagree is because of our jobs, not our personal relationship.


Your union has challenged the U.S. Department of Justice settlement in court. Why?

We haven’t been a part of that agreement, or privy to some of the information that was privy to that agreement. We needed to be, and we weren’t. That’s why we filed a motion to intervene with the federal court. 


Aside from the DOJ settlement, what are your biggest priorities for this year?

To negotiate our contract and get it settled. Workload issues are first and foremost for us. We want to make sure that our officers are being compensated monetarily and taken care of safety-wise.

We have a shortage of officers and supervisors, and we’re putting more work and responsibility on them. The mental-health area is a perfect example. 


Are you going to ask for a raise?

We don’t talk about the things on the negotiation table until they’re brought out. We have not put any proposals forth yet.


Hales talks about increasing community policing.

Officers have been doing that for years. Sometimes it can become a buzzword. Officers are out there every day making contacts, not just with criminals and victims, but also with people in the neighborhoods.


Hales, in his campaign, often told a story about a police officer driving through a park on the sidewalks without stopping, to show that police are out of touch with citizens. So where’s the disconnect?

If you look at things from the outside in, you see differently than someone who’s on the inside. Mayor Hales is on the inside now. It’s a workload issue. 


Would you trade a pay raise for more officers?

It’s not a matter of trading; it’s a matter of necessity. We have to have more officers. 


Has there been any talk about asking voters for more money for police?

Not yet. The mayor is just coming into office. He needs to look at each bureau, learn what they need and don’t need, and trim the fat from bureaus that need it and enhance the bureaus that need to be enhanced.


What bureaus need to have fat trimmed?

I wouldn’t know about that, but I do know which one needs to be enhanced: the Portland Police Bureau.


One of the criticisms about the DOJ report is that it didn’t address cops and race in this town. You’re a black cop in  a bureau accused of treating black people differently than white people. Where do you see yourself in all of that?

My answer to that is: Is there racial profiling at Fred Meyer? Is there racial profiling at U.S. Bank? Is there racial profiling at various businesses across the country? I think that’s an issue bigger than police. Is it more of an impact because I can’t go to certain schools or other places because of that, or if I’m scrutinized and followed by a security officer because I’m African-American? We strive, and I strive, to make sure that doesn’t happen here at the Portland Police Bureau. 


What will you miss the least about Mayor Sam Adams?

I won’t comment on that, but I’ll wish him well in his endeavors. 

 
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