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What Happened to James Chasse: Portland Police Bureau officers carry unfair burden

Monday, October 23, 2006

Portland Police Bureau officers carry unfair burden

from The Rap Sheet - Chief Sizer’s statement to the media following the in-custody death of James Chasse. Editor’s Note: These statements were read to the media by Chief Sizer. Only a fraction of them were reported in the mainstream media.

“Detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances of officers’ contact with James Chasse and his death. They have interviewed all police personnel involved, many witnesses, jail personnel. Physical evidence has been examined. Medical records will be subpoenaed.

“The Police Bureau has a duty and an obligation to fully investigate this matter and we are doing so.

“I am committed to releasing as much information as we can about this incident and as soon as possible. This will include a timeline and statements by the officers, witnesses, and others.

“I think that it is important that the community knows that the officers involved are devastated by Mr. Chasse’s death.

“Finally, I think it is important to understand the larger context of this incident. This larger context is a burden that police officers carry with them each and every day. They carry this burden to an extent unprecedented in my twenty-one year tenure in the Police Bureau.

Our mental health are system is inadequate. When the Multnomah County jail system is the largest provider of treatment to the mentally ill in the State of Oregon, you know the system will break down.

Although some strides have been made in the last few years, statistics show that they are more homeless people on the streets of Portland than ever before.

Recent cuts to the Corrections Health system have created confusion about who will be accepted into the jail and under what circumstances. “Within this larger context, I can think of few jobs that are more important, more difficult and more subject to scrutiny than that of a street police officer.

“We will rigorously examine our actions, our policies, training and procedures.

“I ask Portlanders to examine if our safety nets for the disadvantaged meet their needs and our community’s expectations.”

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