Policing and fair play

Physical violence comes from somewhere. Beliefs and power structures are formed by words. Police sometimes defy rules in ways that are more "civil" than physical: lying, half-truths and misinformation, insubordination to elected leaders. Do we tolerate more rule-defying by police than by other public servants? If so, why? What are the effects? What can be done about it?


"Nothing is more dangerous than a group of men who have realized the rules don't apply to them." -- Portland author Rene Denfeld. twitter


According to Criminologist Philip Stinson, 6.3% of the 10,000 local officers from 2004-2015 lied, and the problem is likely even more widespread than the data suggests. See Police Crime Database


1870's Portland Police bureau plants fake story to embarrass the daily paper. See Defrauding the Daily Bulletin

In 1981 eight Portland narcotics officers were implicated for misconduct in connection with a raid on a biker clubhouse. Among other things, they had planted evidence in order to obtain convictions. District attorney Mike Schrunk , who had just been elected for the first of his 32 year career in that position, appealed to the governor to pardon 58 people who were impacted by those officers' actions.

In 1992 a young man fired shots at Portland police, but did not injure them. The president of the police union called the judge ahead of the sentencing hearing, to recommend a strong sentence. The judge stated that he was "flabbergasted" to receive such a call. 40 officers attended the hearing; the union president stated to the media that the officers were there to "let the judge know we as a class of people are watching what he does." [Oregonian, June 16, 1993]

In 2019 an Alameda County Sheriff's deputy shoved the owner of the Toronto Raptors when the basketball team won the championship; but video footage showed that he had twice shoved the civilian first. The same deputy was convicted of insurance fraud in 1994 while serving in a different jurisdiction.

In 2019 Portland police made a public claim that protesters were throwing milkshakes mixed with quick-drying cement. Snopes has rated the statement "false."

Vallejo police captain John Whitney lost his job in 2019 when he worked to end a decade long practice in which police would bend the points of their star-shaped badges, creating what they referred to as a "Badge of Honor," to indicate they had killed somebody while on duty.

In 2020 the New York police claimed that bail reform and COVID-19-related releases had driven a spike in shootings, but the New York Post reported that the police's own data contradicted that claim.

In 2020 police in Buffalo shoved a 75 year old peace activist, who was attempting to communicate, to the ground, badly injuring him. The initial police statement claimed that he was injured when he tripped and fell" .

In 2020 when Portland mayor and police commissioner Ted Wheeler ordered the police to cease using a particularly toxic form of tear gas, the Police Bureau published a press release objecting to the order, without informing Wheeler's office.