Equity Officer Admonishes Police

Urges enforcement of professional behavior

12/10/2013, 4:10 p.m.
Dante J. James

The director of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights is urging the Portland Police Bureau to respond to recent reports of an officer using a racial slur as an opportunity for daily training and making reminders about expected professional behavior.

Dante J. James made the request last week after newspapers reported that a Portland police officer used the word, “nigger,” during an interaction in October with a member of the black community.

James also praised the police bureau for racial sensitivity training given to its command staff and sergeants that was organized by Portland’s Community and Police Relations Committee’s training subcommittee.

But for street officers who interact with community members every day, James recommends that the recent racial slur allegation be used as an opportunity to discuss professionalism at every roll call, in every training session, and in off-line discussions.

James said the word “nigger” can never be used by a white officer in interactions with someone on the street.

“People will argue that it is a double standard because some black people use the word. This is not an argument about who gets to use the word. This is an opportunity for PPB to remind its staff that any pejorative of this type is unacceptable. This is about professionalism, plain and simple, and this is the conversation that needs to happen,” James said.

He said Police Chief Mike Reese responded positively to his comments and indicated he would immediately discuss the matter with his leadership staff.