Another Brick in the Wall

Despite all the tensions between the police and so many citizens of Portland,  The Portland Police Foundation decided it would be cool to host an invite-only, $1000 per head play date with whomever they deem desirable. It is impossible to comprehend how an organization that supports a police bureau and union that publicly wail about how badly we (the citizenry) misunderstand and misinterpret its motives could think this type of event is appropriate, or even useful.

Am I on board with PPB offering a look into their training and operations?  Sure!  It would be great for them to host regular tours and visits for people who want to understand how officers are trained, how policy is determined, what resources are available, and build relationships with the Bureau.  It would provide more transparency, humanize both police officers and civilians, and maybe start to ease some of the tensions we’ve seen building over the last decade.

But an invite-only, $1000 per person ticket to exclusive police access?

The price alone is prohibitive for most people, and who knows how they’re going to select their “special” playdate invitees.  Regardless, the event seems designed to give a select group of people privileged access, thereby removing even the facade of police neutrality in dealing with citizens.  The fact that it’s hosted by the Foundation (and not the Bureau) is almost irrelevant, special access is special access.  Wanting to re-open the community academy is an admirable goal, but they honestly couldn’t come up with a different fundraising idea?

In many organizations, the recent DOJ investigation (which found significant problems with a variety of bureau practices and policies) would have spurred initiatives designed to start rebuilding trust with the communities who have been most affected by police violence and brutality.  Even when individual officers do good work, their efforts are undermined or overshadowed by a system of racist practices, excessive use of force, and seeming disregard for the welfare of black and brown communities.

An event that caters to the wealthy and offers privileged access not only deepens the divide and corrodes what little trust may remain, it feels like a giant “fuck you” to the rest of us.  Oh, and before I forget, who’s paying for this exclusive fundraising romp through publicly-funded police time and equipment?  Yes!  Us – the taxpayers!  I wonder how many other private foundations get the same benefit – a fully functioning public entity available for its personal fundraising use?  That the Foundation would do something that seems so contrary to the best interests of PPB (and its public image) and the people who live in this city makes the dig even deeper.

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4 thoughts on “Another Brick in the Wall

  1. It’s not the Police Union, it’s the Police Foundation. It’s a fundraiser, hence the price tag. And why do you assume that anyone of color would not be able afford it?

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  2. The issue of price is prohibitive for many people, I wasn’t calling it out as specific to people of color. I don’t like the idea of publicly-funded equipment, salaries, and time being used a fund-raiser that is not giving equal access via an open guest selection process either. If they want to host a $1000 a plate fundraiser that anyone can buy into, it’s at least slightly more transparent, even if I’m still not in agreement with the event.

    The article I saw is headlined with “Police Union”, then goes on to include the Police Foundation and Citizens Crime Commission. If the Union isn’t involved, the article doesn’t make that clear, perhaps it is an oversight on the author’s part?

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    • The link you included in your post does not say Police Union anywhere. Most fundraisers are prohibitive for low income folks. Fundraisers are targeted to those who can afford to support the cause, whatever it is.

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      • I see the problem with the source. I’m looking at a hard copy of WW and the article there says “Police Union Hosts” but their online headline says “Police Foundation.” They obviously caught the error too late to fix in the print version.

        I understand about fundraising, although I think there are ways to raise funds that allow more people to participate. Thanks for catching the error.

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