PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A report finds some Portland Police Bureau employees are using language suggesting racist and white supremacist ideology.
According to the quarterly Compliance Officer and Community Liaison report, that language was used in an anonymous survey of employees responding to a training video intended to help them interact with the queer and trans community.
The report found that in anonymous responses to the survey, “the language used in some of the feedback was indicative of racial bias, ableism, and white supremacy ideology.”
It also notes the chief had not responded to the remarks.
“The feedback was elevated to the chief’s office prior to the end of the second quarter, and PPB has yet to develop a plan to address the perspectives expressed in the feedback,” it said.
In a drafted follow-up report released this month, the authors note that “these attitudes and perspectives can come to bear on how PPB members treat members of the Portland community as well as their fellow officers.”
The bureau’s equity and inclusion office has pushed for these trainings to be held in person. But the report notes the bureau has not done that.
According to a statement from the office, “the priority given to equity training remains a point of concern for the COCL and something we have been discussing since 2020.”
The report was part of the regular analysis of police practices by the bureau, stemming from the settlement with the Department of Justice in 2014.
“There’s a lack of, in my opinion, a lack of prioritization of these issues,” said Debra Porta, the executive director for Pride Northwest.
However, PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Nathan Sheppard said that “being ‘indicative of’ could literally mean anything in today’s world where almost anything someone says can be offensive to someone else.”
“I find that response to be very concerning,” Porta said. “It is very minimizing of the real harm that is actually being inflicted on people.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, released a statement expressing his concern.
“I am deeply concerned by the COCL’s report and I am working to learn more,” Wheeler said. “I and leadership at PPB strive to ensure that PPB members receive meaningful training to improve how they interact with all members of our community, including our LGBTQIA2S+ neighbors.”
He stated that inclusivity is central to not only the values of the city — but to him personally.
“I am calling on the many officers I know do not share the views reflected in this anonymous survey to be vigilant and practice active bystandership if they see any biased or discriminatory behavior by any officer,” Wheeler continued. “I am committed to driving out hate, ignorance, and bias, and will stand by those who join me in that goal.”
Meanwhile, the bureau says Police Chief Chuck Lovell hasn’t responded to officers over the anonymous responses because the intention of the survey was to get honest responses in order to gauge the work the bureau has to do.
“It is always our goal to build relationships and PPB is committed to treating people from the LGTBQIA2S+ community respectfully and appropriately,” Lovell said in a statement. “PPB is doing everything we can to prepare and equip our members to have improved relationships with this community.”
Porta has been trying to work with the bureau for years to do that. She said that statements like Lovell’s come often, but she has yet to feel like changes are prioritized.
“It’s not about the individual officers, it’s about the system that they’re recruited, trained and work in,” Porta said.