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Officers shoot to stop the threat

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW Portland Police officers Mark Freedman (left) and Todd Engstrom demonstrate the proper technique for extracting a driver from a vehicle in 2008. Portland provides Crisis Intervention Team training to its new recruits – while some cities prefer to only train more experienced officers.

I commend you on your report (Experts say police training flawed, Jan. 13). People in our society watch too much television, and think this is how it works in the real world. They have no clue. I would ask any one of these people to spend one shift riding with a police officer in a cruiser along Southeast Division Street or Powell Boulevard.

I have been in local law enforcement for more than 20 years. I've taught firearms training at what is now called the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and privately for most of my career. Never have I ever taught or advocated for any police officer to use a firearm for the purpose of wounding.

Why do they call it deadly force? Unless you want to lose your house, retirement and work the rest of your life paying back the crook who was shot, you shoot to stop the threat, and you keep shooting until the threat is no longer a threat.

My entire career, I have taught (officers) to focus point of aim at the center of mass - or center of available mass - depending of what the bad guy presents to you. If by chance the bad guy dies? It's sad, but you have done your job. You, your loved ones, your friends, neighbors and community go home safe.

Why do Portland police need to waste money for an outside agency to tell them they are doing a good job? Our police officers don't escalate the use of force. They use the level of force that is dictated by the threat.

Government has created this mess of not being able to care for the mentally unstable. The way our society has turned, I feel everyone's stress level has been ratcheted up a notch or two by too many factors. But I know one thing: We will continue to do our job and protect our citizens in the way that is necessary. Someday we have to hope that our government leaders wake up and make a decision to fund the programs that are so vital to the strength of our community - not waste it on funding for people who have no right to receive a dime in support.

God bless our Portland Police.

Bruce Giggers

Clackamas

Understanding would help police

Blaming does not get us anywhere (Experts say police training flawed, Jan. 13).

We mental health professionals must do the ride-alongs and understand the role of the police with respect. You notice we did not choose that particular way to help people. We know it is grueling, frustrating and dangerous. Mental health professionals also damage people from time to time. We get hurt and killed sometimes.

It is important to keep Crisis Intervention Team standards intact and utilize them consistently, no matter the barriers.

Mental health professionals and police officers are on the same team. We have a common goal. None of us likes to see things go bad, but it happens. It will always happen. We need compassion for the part each of us takes on.

Karla Black

Marlton, N.J.

'Mentally ill' is too broad a statement

Regarding this statement: 'A large part of the problem is the tattering of Portland's social safety net and the community's ongoing inability to deal with the mentally ill.' (Blame alone won't solve the problems, Our Opinion, Jan. 6)

You err to write a generic 'the' mentally ill. You mean something far more specific. If 'the' mentally ill were as broad a reference as 'the' blacks, you would not employ it. What specifically did you mean?

Harold A. Maio

Fort Myers, Fla.

Better tools would assist police

This is a well-written editorial that covers many sides of the issue (Blame alone won't solve the problems, Jan. 6).

We know there will always be those who are mentally ill and they, through no fault of their own diseased brain, will act out in a manner that defies logic and reason. The same is true of those addicted to drugs.

Since we know this, and we also know it creates a predicament for police, we simply have to have better methods for detainment and a more effective manner used to subdue a person who is out of control and aggressive.

These questions beg for answers in the realm of 'tools.' The newest tools are heat- and energy-related and are brand new to the military. However, some of the most complex issues sometimes have simple answers. We see it at the zoo: tranquilizer guns. They are not perfect. Heavy clothing makes this imperfect, but it is certainly less lethal than a bullet - and therefore should be considered, no matter how much the ACLU whines and moans.

Another is the use of projectile netting or 'Sticky Nets.' They can be shot from a safe distance and render an assailant or perpetrator almost perfectly safe. When guns are held, all bets are off and the officer must protect his life. But when mentally ill or drug-infected people threaten from a distance with a knife or a bottle or a baseball bat - some item that is not reasonably causing 'imminent danger' - then we need better tools for the brave men in blue.

David Elton

Lake Oswego

Legislature never funded treatment

There were two concrete and substantive recommendations from Tom Potter's Public Safety and Mental Health Task Force of 2005. (Blame alone won't solve the problems, Jan. 6)

The first was to open a crisis psychiatric facility where officers could bring persons in an acute mental health crisis, versus ignoring them, taking them to jail or the emergency room. This recommendation went unfunded by Multnomah County for a couple of years before capital costs were picked up by the state. The facility will be at the old Hooper Detox building, and the operating agency has yet to be determined.

Second was to make a concerted effort for the city, county, local legislators, police bureaus and citizens concerned with the welfare of persons with mental illness to demand more money for treatment services from the state Legislature.

This has not occurred.

Jason Renaud

Northwest Portland