Progressive Local News
By Dave Mazza
When Mayor Katz announced earlier this year that Mark Kroeker, a former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Deputy Chief, had been selected to replace outgoing Portland Police Chief Charles Moose, she emphasized that the man selected was someone who shared our values. Kroeker was an internationally respected law enforcement officer with an impressive resume and positive press. He was also the man credited with bringing community policing to the city in the wake of the Rodney King beating, and restoring a working relationship between the LAPD and Los Angeles' communities of color.
Since donning the blue uniform of the Portland Police Bureau, however, Oregon-born Kroeker seems to have burned more bridges in this city than he has built. His move to impose a military appearance on Bureau officers drew sharp criticism from the cop on the street, the police union, and the public. His deployment of a newly created "rapid response team" on May Day created a major crisis for Mayor Katz that is still playing out in City Hall and the community. His community policing initiative - particularly the installation of police-appointed "block captains" - has drawn criticism from a wide range of community activists. Communications, something Kroeker claims to hold in high regard, is minimal and militaristic with many of Portland's communities.
But this gap between expectations and performance - between hype and reality - shouldn't really come as a surprise. A look back to Kroeker's Los Angeles days - a look beyond the press clippings and testimonials - offers a Mark Kroeker of many faces, some of which go far in explaining why things are going so wrong with policing in Portland today.
Any conversation about Mark Kroeker inevitably leads to the issue of community policing. It is his claim to fame within the Los Angeles Police Department.
The official story is impressive. While the city was still in shock over the videotaped beating of Rodney King, Chief Daryl Gates assigned Deputy Chief Kroeker to the LAPD's Valley Bureau (within whose jurisdiction the beating occurred) to avert further violence and to restore the community's faith in its police force. Between his assignment in March, 1991 and Jan. 1992, Kroeker assigned over 30 officers to full-time community-relations work. He recruited over 300 volunteers to serve as liaisons between the police and the community, and increased the number of minority officers and commanders at the Foothill Division (this division's officers beat King). Kroeker, furthermore, was not one to command from behind a desk. During those critical first months he appeared everywhere, talking to local groups, holding numerous press conferences, and making himself a visible symbol of a new style of policing. His efforts not only embraced the recommendations of the Christopher Commission - the panel studying the department following the King incident - but actually preceded by at least six-months a city-wide community policing plan adopted by the City Council.
These accomplishments made Deputy Chief Kroeker the man of the hour following the 1992 urban uprising sparked by the acquittal of the officers charged with beating Rodney King. Police Chief Willie Williams, calling Kroeker "an innovative implementer of community-based policing programs," placed him in charge of the South Bureau, responsible for policing south-central Los Angeles. Over the next three years, Kroeker sought to replicate his earlier success in the Valley. The community policing plan he unveiled to residents in 1994 was his Valley plan on a much larger scale: divert officers into community relations positions, make Bureau leadership more visible through a busy schedule of meetings with various community groups, and recruit over 5,000 citizen liaisons.
Kroeker's community policing efforts at Valley and in the South Bureau won support from a number of community leaders and members of the City Council. City Councilman and journalist Bob Farrell developed a close relationship with Kroeker during the latter's South Bureau's tour and saw concrete improvements come from the deputy chief's efforts.
"The one thing that Mark Kroeker is really about is 'leadership,'" Farrell states. "He provided the leadership necessary to bring about real change in the police department."
According to Farrell, the community policing plans Kroeker instituted are still producing positive change in the community. The deputy chief, through his "leadership," brought antagonistic sides together and persuaded them to work towards the common good of the community.
But not everyone in the community was as impressed with Deputy Chief Kroeker's performance, particularly in the South Bureau. A broad coalition of community activists felt that greater police control over neighborhoods rather than stronger neighborhood control over policing was the real agenda under Kroeker's command.
Genethia Hudley Hayes currently serves as President of the Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Hayes was executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Los Angeles during Kroeker's South Bureau years. Under Hayes leadership, SCLC was the lead in a broad coalition of grassroots groups representing African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and other disempowered Angelenos. Hayes' group and the coalition strongly challenged the police vision for community policing.
"What we saw was the Los Angeles Police Department unwilling to change," Hayes stated. "We saw the community councils being co-opted by the police."
SCLC and other community groups were seeking a democratization of policing practices in the wake of the Rodney King beating and subsequent urban uprising - an agenda that was in keeping with the recommendations of the Christopher Commission. SCLC wanted police activities overseen by community councils empowered to shape policing plans within their boundaries. Hayes and others also sought elected councils composed of community members who had put their names forward as candidates, and who were openly elected by the members of the community within each council's jurisdiction. In addition to these elected members, a limited number of seats on each council would be filled through appointments by the city, including seats held by members of the LAPD. This infrastructure was to be crafted largely from an elected "block club" system that already existed throughout much of the Los Angeles.
But according to Hayes, Kroeker - as well as other leaders in the LAPD - had no interest in such an empowerment strategy. The South Bureau plan Kroeker unveiled in early 1994 made that clear. The community councils were transformed into "advisory boards" composed of community members appointed by the police. Rather than turning to community activists already serving in block clubs, Kroeker used South Bureau resources to recruit new residents to the board. The deputy chief's plan also made no provision for integrating the existing block clubs into the new system, leaving many long-time residents and activists feeling shut out.
That was a recipe for failure according to Anthony Thigpenn, head of Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives (AGENDA). "I think the way that the program is being implemented, people are being set up for a huge disappointment. Either it will be very superficial…or it will collapse," Thigpenn told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.
A far bigger concern than representation on the advisory boards was the actual mission of the boards themselves. Many in the community, including several members of the City Council, saw in Kroeker's network of boards and block captains a revival of the police infrastructure of the 1970s. That "community policing" system had provided the LAPD with a powerful political base for blocking serious institutional reforms put forward by the City Council or by citizens.
With civil unrest spreading across the nation in the 1960s, law enforcement agencies at all levels began looking at ways to monitor and curtail forces in the community which could lead to the sort of urban uprising that struck the Watts District of Los Angeles in 1965. The Nixon administration, arriving in the White House in 1968 on a law and order platform, was more than willing to offer federal support to local police departments in developing the capabilities to do that sort of monitoring and intervention. Money, technology, and other incentives moving that direction were waved before the eyes of police chiefs in every state. In Los Angeles that sort of support was appreciated but not necessary to prompt the LAPD. Deputy Chief Ed Davis - positioning himself for his successful bid for chief of the department - was working on his own version of "community policing" as early as 1969.
By the early 1970s, Davis had created from scratch or brought under his wing a number of community structures that could serve as ears and eyes for the police. Neighborhood watch groups, police advisory boards, even the block clubs, were heavily supported by the LAPD and promoted by the department throughout the city. Integral to each of these entities was not only police representation but oftentimes police supervision. Davis had created a machine that allowed police officers to routinely meet with hand-picked community members to determine who or what posed a potential threat to maintenance of the peace.
The chief had also created - not by design according to Davis - an infrastructure by which the department could flex its political muscle. Community Relations Officers - known as "crows" - assigned to various neighborhood groups found it easy to shift from collecting information about neighborhood conditions to encouraging the pro-police cadres making up these groups to express pro-police opinions to their elected officials. City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky recalled for the Los Angeles Times in June 1994 that it was not uncommon for a Council member to be flooded with calls from constituents demanding an increase in the police budget for more vice officers or patrol vehicles.
Cranking up the police political machine could also go beyond merely fattening up the budget and keeping the LAPD outfitted with the latest equipment. The ability to direct thousands of citizens to lobby their elected city representatives on behalf of the police produced a chilling affect on anyone considering serious reform of the LAPD. The presence of such a machine meant the department was in a position to seriously shift the power relationship between the LAPD, the community, and the City Council.
That shift in power towards the department was a serious concern in 1994 as well. Deputy Chief Kroeker's rebuilding of advisory boards and recruitment of community supporters drew criticism from a number of quarters. In 1994 City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas expressed his concerns about Kroeker's version of community policing to the Los Angeles Times:
"With the program, the department can potentially endear a network of community residents and cause them to be more closely aligned with the political interests of the department. You think they would resist the temptation of exploiting that relationship they are building on an issue that is important to them? I can tell you, they already are using that relationship."
Critics of the LAPD, including Ridley-Thomas, Yaroslavsky, Councilman Richard Alarcon and others, sought to regain control of the apparatus Kroeker was building by proposing that council staff be represented on the community police advisory boards. It was a proposal that Chief Willie Williams resisted, with the support of his top advisors. The issue remained contested even after Deputy Chief Kroeker - disappointed by his second failed bid for the top position in the department - put away his LAPD shield and took up the task of police advisor in Bosnia.
Chief Kroeker takes pride in his commitment to building open and clear lines of communications between his bureau and the community. Watching him move through a roomful of shop owners, retirees, and young professionals at a Northwest District Association meeting earlier this year, it was clear that his blend of nervous enthusiasm and military-like reserve resonates with that sort of crowd. A fortyish woman, clearly uncomfortable that she would appear insensitive by complaining about homeless people in her neighborhood, was quickly reassured by the lanky chief that not only were her concerns legitimate, but that they would be addressed.
Kroeker's ability to establish that sort of rapport, combined with his enthusiasm for using public vehicles for expressing himself, have made the chief a familiar sight in town. KOIN-TV, Portland's CBS affiliate, has even given the chief air time on its evening news as part of a segment entitled "Crime Trackers." In the "teaser" introducing the segment, Kroeker appears relaxed as he tells KOIN anchor Julie Day how he will be helping viewers understand the tough job of fighting crime in the streets of Portland.
Many Portlanders, however, have seen another side to the great communicator. Those community members, for instance, who came to Mayor Katz' public forum at northeast Portland's Maranatha Church in the immediate wake of the May Day police riot witnessed a Chief Kroeker who was woefully out of touch with his audience. A standing room only crowd - recorded by media angry over being banished to the church loft - demanded an explanation for police herding and attacking peaceful protesters. In response, the chief made a strange try at show-and-tell about the police paraphernalia heaped at the foot of the tabernacle railing.
These oddly conflicting performances were not unknown during Kroeker's LAPD days.
Practically unknown to the public when he was pushed into the spotlight by Chief Daryl Gates after the Rodney King beating, Kroeker soon established himself with the local media. In an effort to overcome the image four Foothill Division officers had burned into the minds of millions of television viewers, the newly appointed head of the Valley Bureau engaged the public via press conferences and other media opportunities in a way few of the other top brass ever had. Such exposure of a high-ranking police official - particularly one in such a polarized situation - most likely did help lower tensions within the San Fernando Valley at a critical time. That's the opinion of leaders within groups like San Fernando Valley Ministers Alliance - a predominantly African American group - to B'nai B'rith's Jewish Anti-Defamation League.
But there were others who questioned the motives behind Kroeker's tireless efforts to communicate as well as the veracity of the communications themselves.
Within the LAPD, the deputy chief began drawing fire for what was seen as self-promotion and jockeying for position as a replacement for the increasingly besieged Gates. As tensions began to subside in the valley, Kroeker's continued use of the media to announce even mundane policy changes fed into the image of self-promoter that detractors in the department were putting forward. His unauthorized use of a traffic officer to serve as his personal public relations officer - only the chief himself had his own personal relations flak - also did little to put that criticism to rest.
More important to community activists than the frequency of the deputy chief's press conferences was the content of his frequent communications with the community. Many were aware that Kroeker was willing to talk at great length to nearly anyone, however, some, like Genethia Hudley Hayes, felt what was happening in the community rarely reflected what Deputy Chief Kroeker was reporting.
"People of color do not need the police talking at them," Hayes stated. "People of color need the police to actually implement the changes they are talking about."
As during his tenure at the Valley Bureau, Kroeker maintained a very high profile once he was moved into the top slot at the South Bureau. Regular public briefings, as well as smaller meetings with community groups painted a picture of a changing LAPD, particularly in its interactions with south-central Los Angeles residents. But Hayes contends that Kroeker's claims that community policing were transforming the department was clearly not evident on the street. She asserts that SCLC - who was observing Kroeker very closely - saw the same old tactics being employed against African Americans, Latinos, and others. At the Jordana Housing Project, for instance, police were responsible for the fatal shooting of several African American residents. SCLC did not find the incidents themselves, nor the way the LAPD handled the investigations any different that in the pre-Kroeker, pre-community policing days.
Portland's top cop likes to remind people there is a human being underneath the uniform and the he prefers to connect on a human to human basis. He also describes himself as a peacemaker and a peacekeeper. Yet for someone raised in the Mennonite tradition, he shows a strong affinity for things military and less than human-friendly. His first public policy announcement in Portland had to do with imposing a military appearance on the city's cops. He often uses military terminology in describing his own goals or intentions. An anecdote he used in a presentation before the Fellowship of Christian Police Officers centered on an emotion-laden recollection of performing military style drills as a young police cadet and the life lesson to be learned from the drill order to "stand fast." Many Portlanders, this writer included, experienced first hand the chief's military deployment of police against May Day protesters.
His service with the LAPD provides further evidence of a preference for physical force and technology over the human touch. During the trial of the officers who assaulted Rodney King, the assertion by one of the defendants that use of the "chokehold" would have precluded a beating by batons ignited a fresh debate over a technique that had cost 17 lives over a seven year period. Kroeker, working his way up the list of candidates for chief, took
what might be considered the politically astute position of rejecting the chokehold as too dangerous but encouraging more study of the carotid hold as a possible replacement.
While serving as commander of the LAPD's Personnel and Training Bureau (1988-1990), Kroeker oversaw a year-long study of the use of hollow-point bullets - a controversial type of ammunition capable of causing horrendous injuries. The ammunition was subsequently adopted by the LAPD in 1990 as a result of Kroeker's study.
At the same time, Commander Kroeker was studying the impact of hollow point bullets on the human body, the department's Special Investigations Section, or SIS, brought to a close the robbery of McDonald's restaurant by killing three robbers and seriously wounding a fourth. What drew public outcry over the incident was the fact that the SIS members watched the suspects rob the restaurant manager at gunpoint, then fired 35 shots at the four as the robbers were getting into their car. Kroeker remained silent on what many took as a premeditated hit by the police, while strongly defending the work of the SIS as essential to stopping crime in the city. As people would read in another newspaper in another city about another incident, the future chief described the situation not in terms of the horrendous use of excessive force, but rather as a difficult mission for officers to carry out. It was a question of technical proficiency, not humanity.
It was also a question of Kroeker's fondness for military-style intelligence gathering. As early as 1983, Kroeker was involved in matters related to intelligence gathering by the LAPD. He served as one of three members on a panel charged with investigating the LAPD's Public Disorder Intelligence Division (PDID). By the time of the panel's work, the PDID retained little credibility with a public that was shocked by the division's activities in the 1960s and 1970s. A continuation of the city's old "Red Squad," PDID seemed far more interested in covert action than intelligence gathering. Political groups and individuals considered dangerous by the ultra-conservative culture of the LAPD found themselves subjected to flagrant violations of their rights by PDID members. Kroeker and his fellow panel members called for dissolution of PDID, but they also urged PDID's replacement with an "anti-terrorist unit."
When the newly appointed Chief Kroeker arrived in Portland, he made no secret of the role religion has played in his life. Most Portlanders probably know that the 56 year-old law officer was raised in the Mennonite faith, the son of missionaries, spending much of his childhood in Zaire. They may also be aware that at some point he drifted from the faith of his parents, eventually being "born again," and embracing a conservative Christian fundamentalism. Again, it is a fact that Kroeker himself has not tried to conceal.
The fact that a professional law officer - particularly one who spent 37 years as part of the LAPD - should hold conservative religious views is not surprising, nor something that should prevent that law officer from fulfilling his duties in an appropriate manner. But, as the lead story of this issue has shown, Deputy Chief Kroeker did not maintain the professional divide between job and faith that would be expected by most people. His perception of himself as a "Christian cop," furthermore, and how he grew into that identity, raises concerns about how he perceives and carries out his duties now.
Kroeker's faith is not a new issue. It spilled into the pages of the local Los Angeles press largely due to his relationship a powerful figure within the LAPD: Assistant Chief Robert L. Vernon.
When Robert Vernon selected Commander Mark Kroeker for his chief of staff in 1987, the 53 year-old assistant chief was the second most powerful man in the LAPD. As head of the Office of Operations, Vernon had nearly 80 percent of the department - all the LAPD's patrol units and most of the detectives - under his direct control. The appointment marked Kroeker as someone headed for the upper levels of LAPD leadership. It also represented the fourth appointment by the assistant chief of a born-again Christian to Vernon's inner circle.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Vernon was not only a powerful police official, he was a local force in the growing fundamentalist Christian movement. A lay elder of the Grace Community Church of the Valley, Vernon helped spread the word in a variety of ways. The assistant chief was a major shareholder in Creative Communications Ministries - a partnership operating five Christian radio stations in California and Colorado - until he sold his shares for financial reasons in 1986. Vernon published two Christian books about serving God while being a police officer. He also began recording and distributing in 1977 a series of audiotapes citing biblical evidence of the need to punish homosexuals, the necessity of wives to submit to husbands, and the sanctioning of corporal punishment of children.
Vernon, along with four other Los Angeles police officers, also organized the Fellowship of Christian Police Officers (FCPO) in 1971. The fellowship (Vernon is a national director) was modeled on the Christian Business Men's Committee of USA (CBMC), an organization that provides literature, training, and consulting on ways to build born-again Christian constituencies within the business world's management/executive class. FCPO seeks to proselytize among law enforcement agencies in the same manner as the CMBC. Through the FCPO, Vernon and others were able to connect the growing ranks of born-again LAPD officers with the broader born-again movement, as well as connect with similar Christian cop groups in the United States and elsewhere.
Vernon was also the driving force behind religious retreats sponsored by the church that attracted hundreds of LAPD officers - an activity which many felt helped build the born-again faction within the LAPD to anywhere between several hundred to a few thousand members. Among those drawn to Vernon and the Grace Church was the man who publicly called Vernon his mentor (and still does), and who was now the controversial leader's chief of staff: Mark Kroeker.
Despite Vernon's protests to the contrary, some officers suggested that the assistant chief was building a Christian hierarchy within the department. As one administrator told the Los Angeles Times, there was an impression that being born-again opened doors for up and coming officers in the same way that membership in the Masonic order had in the LAPD of the 1930s and 1940s. The sense of preferential treatment was widespread enough by the late 1980s to be acknowledged by the Police Protection League, whose president, George V. Aliano, thought it existed. The League's director, Frank Grimes, spoke about what the Los Angeles Times described as "openly dogmatic" behavior by born-again officers. It also drew the attention of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Robert M. Talcott, president of the civilian body responsible for overseeing the department, also admitted to hearing rumors of Christian favoritism, but claimed there was nothing of substance upon which to take action.
Still, incidents continued to happen, keeping such concerns alive. There were, for example, the two police captains - John R. Wilbanks and Vance M. Proctor -- who opened a neighborhood meeting about crime suppression with a sermon on how accepting Jesus Christ would help in the fight against drugs. The proselytizing policemen not only brought down on their own heads a review by internal affairs, their performance at the Oakwood neighborhood meeting brought the Christian question into the pages of the city's major newspapers, and cast an even stronger light on the activities of the LAPD's number two man.
The issue of Vernon's religious beliefs and his official conduct came to a head in 1991. A Los Angeles Times story about Vernon's audiotapes and other activities prompted Mayor Tom Bradley, City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California to call for an investigation of the assistant chief. Although Chief Daryl Gates reported that he had already conducted such an investigation and found no grounds for taking action, Vernon chose to file suit in federal court against the mayor, the City Council, and others, claiming that their investigation of his religious beliefs had destroyed his career.
That move opened the floodgates, and a number of people came forward with charges against Vernon. Assistant Chief David Dotson and Deputy Chiefs Glen Levant and Bernard Parks (future chief of the LAPD) presented sworn statements describing Vernon's practice of promoting born-again Christians over better-qualified candidates. Dotson, who served on the oral examination boards with Vernon, testified that the assistant chief would increase the test scores of candidates who were members of the Grace Community Church. Even more troubling was the testimony from Deputy Chief Levant and others that Vernon criticized subordinates for being soft on gays, and tried to prevent the arrest of Operation Rescue demonstrators outside abortion clinics. Vernon and his supporters claimed the attacks were politically motivated. Several of those who came forward were in the running for the chief's position. But their testimony, as well as other evidence submitted by the city, the police commission, and other sources, convinced the federal court to dismiss Vernon's suit and the U.S. Supreme Court to decline hearing Vernon's appeal (litigation which arch-conservative Christian and Right-wing activists Howard F. Ahmanson Jr. of Orange County helped bankroll to the tune of $10,000).
Throughout much of this painful episode for the department, Kroeker, Vernon's chief of staff, seems to have stayed off the radar screen. This may be simply because as a chief of staff and a relative unknown outside the department he was a minor player in the drama unfolding around the assistant chief. It seems difficult to believe he was unaware of his boss' activities when Vernon went so far as to promote white crosses for the police uniform and doodle Christian fish on official memoranda. It could also be that despite sharing a church, Kroeker did not share his mentor's belief that the line between faith and duty should be removed. In light of the audiotapes Kroeker has recorded, that seems unlikely. And, if the future deputy chief did disagree with Vernon's actions - some of them blatantly against police policy - why did he not come forward?
In all fairness to Kroeker, there isn't a smoking gun in the public record linking his own actions as a division commander to the same sort of heavy-handed activities of his mentor. The police union, which was a Kroeker supporter in both his runs for LAPD chief, went on record a number of times to say Kroeker was no zealot.
But there is the case of Jacqueline Boyer, a lesbian officer serving in Kroeker's Personnel and Training Bureau. Boyer became involved in a domestic dispute with her partner, also an LAPD officer, that escalated to an undetermined level of violence. When officers responded to a complaint about the dispute and found LAPD personnel involved, they contacted Boyer's commander. In the presence of several officers, Kroeker ordered Boyer placed under psychiatric observation against her will. This was the only known time the deputy chief took such a step with
one of his officers - a step that resulted in a federal lawsuit being filed by Boyer against the LAPD and Kroeker. The U.S. District Court had not responded to The Alliance's queries on the case by press time, and the local media did no follow-up on their original stories. But the question still remains whether Kroeker's religious convictions played any part in his making this rather drastic decision involving a lesbian officer.
As Chief Kroeker approaches his first anniversary as head of the Portland Police Bureau, there remain many unanswered questions about the Dallas, Oregon-born law enforcement officer. Some, like his service as a police advisor in Haiti, the Occupied Territories of Palestine, and Bosnia, have not been addressed here due to the lack of accessible information. But even the limited information at hand - which appears to be far more than the mayor sought out in her selection process - raises serious concerns about Kroeker remaining at the head of the police bureau.
The fact that someone who is clearly identified as a professional law enforcement officer would express the views he did before several conferences of the FCPO is alarming. This was not a man engaging in worship within the sanctity of his church. This was someone known as a leading figure within one of the nation's largest police departments. Those statements, even if several years old, could place in jeopardy a relationship between the city and the gay/lesbian/transgender community that, even if far from perfect, is noteworthy.
Those statements should also raise concerns whether Kroeker's vision for society is in keeping with our own community values. His own words paint a disturbing lack of trust in the institutions we have built and the ability of people to improve those systems through the democratic process.
Moving beyond the audiotapes, Kroeker's record should also cause City Hall to question their choice. His community policing campaign in Los Angeles clearly fell far short of what Kroeker claimed in his press releases. Critics like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, hardly a marginal organization, and representing a broad cross section of those communities in which Kroeker was most directly involved, spoke in very strong terms about a plan that was undemocratic and manipulative. They also described a deputy chief who seems to believe good press is the same as real communication.
Kroeker's fondness for things military and the use of force should also be cause for concern. This is a man that believes hollow point bullets are an acceptable part of policing. He apparently believes that blocking the flow of blood to a human's head is more humane way to subdue someone than choking them. He is someone who defended a special operations unit whose members watched an entire robbery take place and then riddled the robbers with 35 shots as they were climbing into the getaway car. He seems to be a cop ready to build a network throughout the community that provides the police with the ability to intrude on the privacy of citizens in ways never realized before, and call it community policing. Most disturbing, he appears to be a policeman who supports military-style intelligence operations, while not seeing that whether it is a public disorder unit or an anti-terrorist unit, it is not in keeping with an open and democratic society.
In the coming months, Portlanders need to ask themselves if all of this adds up to someone they want heading our police bureau. But that isn't the most important question. Mayor Katz is distancing herself from her own work group for reforming civilian oversight of the police. She is also raising, without any compelling evidence, the specter of gang violence reappearing in our city. The passing criticism of the police by City Council appears to have subsided. So the tough question Portlanders have to ask is: do they have the political will and power to force City Hall to get policing back on track?
-Dave Mazza is editor of The Portland Alliance