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Questioning Police Policy

Pete Springer/OPB

On Wednesday, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Ronald Frashour for fatally shooting Aaron Campbell in January. But they submitted what amounts to a damning (if unofficial) indictment of Portland Police Bureau policy in a letter (pdf) to Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk that was released today:

We know that somethng went terribly, terribly wrong at Sand Terrace and that Aaron Campbell should not have died that day. He was not accused of a crime. He police were called to do a “welfare check” because Mr. Campbell was distraught over his brother’s death and family members were worried about him. We feel that his death resulted from flawed police policies, incomplete or inappropriate training, incomplete communication, and other issues with the police effort. We feel strongly that something must be done to correct this, and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) should be held responsible for this tragedy…. We also feel that the recorded Grand Jury testimony should be made public — in particular, that of Officer Frashour. By bringing information to the public, perhaps others will come to understand why there is no indictment. With understanding and a plan for correction, perhaps the community unrest over this case will ease; perhaps the healing process can begin.

We’ve talked about police departments’ uses of force in the past — most recently after a beanbag gun incident and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on stun guns.

But we’ve never focused on the kinds of specific training and policy questions that the grand jury raised. (For example, that “Officer Frashour was over-trained to be the shooter, and under-trained to reassess the situation based on changes in the available information.”)

What training and communication policy changes would prevent future deaths?

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