Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman, center, addresses reporters. Left is Lolenzo Poe, who co-chairs the African American Alliance with Joyce Harris, right.
This morning Mayor Sam Adams and Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman appeared at the North Portland Police Precinct with local African American leaders to announce that they were calling for a federal investigation into the police shooting of Aaron Campbell.
Saltzman reiterated his confidence in both the Police Bureau and Chief Rosie Sizer.
“But I also believe that this process must occur,” added Saltzman, who said that asking the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate is crucial in brining healing to a city that has been rattled by the killing. Although, he noted that he doesn’t expect the investigation to find any wrong doing.
Saltzman also said that the Police Bureau is not waiting for the feds and is doing a “top-to-bottom” review of how it handles people having mental health episodes, the use of AR-15 rifles (the weapon that killed Campbell), and how it handles down subjects.
Rev. Allen T. Behtel, the president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, applauded the move by Saltzman and Adams.
“We’re not going back, we’re going forward so everyone can have justice,” he said.
Joyce Harris, the co-chair of the African American Alliance, said that a federal investigation was needed because it would be independent from local law enforcement agencies, which would make for a more penetrating and critical inquiry into the incident.
She added that investigators would look at the “broader picture,” taking into account past police killings.
Adams repeatedly stated that not all Portlanders have access to the city’s quality of life, referring to the sobering racial disparities seen in the city, which he hoped to address with broader policy initiatives on the city level.
“The simple passage of time will not heal all wounds in this matter,” he said.
He also echoed Saltzman’s remarks that having the investigation will help restore citizen’s, particularly African Americans, faith in the police.
“We can deal with this; we can make progress,” said Adams.
During questions, Harris was asked if the Scott Westerman, president of the police union, was present at a local breakfast sponsored by the African American Alliance. The union has been a stalwart supporter of its officers facing scrutiny for use of force.
“We agreed to disagree on that,” replied Harris, of their diverging views.