March 3rd, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, City Hall, Cops and Courts

Stalking Saltzman: Candidate Jesse Cornett's Plan for the Police


In an interview with WW last month, Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he doesn't have any "specific plans" for how to reform the Portland Police Bureau or improve community trust in the cops.

But one of his opponents in the May election sure does.

City Council candidate Jesse Cornett today rolled out a six-point plan to reform the Police Bureau.

Cornett's plan calls for changes in recruitment and training, proposes a return to community policing, urges an end to racial bias and greater police accountability, and calls for greater support for stressed-out officers.

Cornett, who made an unsuccessful run in the Democratic primary for state Senate in 2006, is the only one of Saltzman's seven challengers to qualify for public campaign funding.

He tells WW that the Jan. 29 fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell isn't the only reason he's making police reform a central part of his campaign. Cornett also was best friends with Raymond Gwerder, a distraught man police fatally shot on Cornett's back porch in 2005 in a case very similar to Campbell's.

Cornett, who attended the Oregon police academy and volunteered as a reserve Multnomah County Deputy for three years, says he disagrees with the way Saltzman has handled the police bureau since he got the assignment last year from Mayor Sam Adams. The mayor took the unusual step of assigning the police bureau to another council member.

But Cornett says he isn't gunning for the job of police commissioner. He believes that task should fall to the mayor, as it has under almost every other administration in city history.

"I believe you shouldn't have a force of nearly 1,000 people who are out running around authorized to take life if the situation warrants it, and just give that job to any commissioner," Cornett says. "That job should always be with the office of the mayor."

However, Cornett says the four other city commissioners should have a strong say in how the police are run, and so he's making it a campaign issue.

"Is that why I'm running? No. But those issues have really honed my attention," Cornett says. "I'm running against Dan Saltzman, who happens to be police commissioner. But I happen to think he has failed to lead on many issues, which is why I'm running. He hasn't been a solid leader for the city."

Despite his passion for police issues, Cornett, who lives in Lents, says his campaign will focus mainly on the need for job creation. He also wants to give East Portland a greater share of city resources.

"I'm running because I think after 15 years of living in Portland, I see a City Hall that is increasingly out of touch with what it is to be an average, everyday, working, struggling Portlander," Cornett says.
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