By Tim Lyman
In the summer of 1978 some friends and I travelled by motorcycle from Vancouver, B.C. to Spence’s Bridge, B.C. We had stopped in Hope, B.C., the town that would become famous next year for being the site of the movie “First Blood,” to stock up on some forgotten supplies and I let a friend ride my motorcycle for a while while I rode in the sole car on the trip. The local police must have thought we were some sort of bike gang, because as we were leaving town, the car was pulled over. The cop couldn’t have been a day over 19 and was, as would soon be obvious, scared witless of us. When the driver of the car leaned over to open up the glove box to show the cop the proof of insurance he had requested, the cop panicked and drew his gun. The driver and I both instantly froze. We froze because we did not want to die. We instinctively knew that any other action might lead to death at the hands of this cop.
In those days you rarely saw a group of motorcycles out together unless they were in a gang. Accountants experiencing their mid life crises had yet to discover the motorcycle. The cop in question didn’t know if we really were some bike gang on our way to or from criminal acts, or just a bunch of kids out for a weekend ride.
No cop ever knows the nature of any citizen he pulls over in a traffic stop. A bunch of scummy looking guys on motorcycles might be just a bunch of innocent kids and a clean cut white guy in a nice suit driving a well maintained late model car might have a trunk full of cocaine.
We hold our police to incredibly high standards and then rake them over the coals every time some citizen’s actions lead to their demise. A few years back a crack addict attempted to flee the scene of a traffic stop and started dragging the cop who had pulled her over along with her car. The cop faced the horrible choice of likely being dragged to death or using deadly force on the driver. The cop shot the driver and she died.
The result? Pastor Roy Tate, a race baiting, cut rate, Al Sharpton wannabe (later accused of stealing church funds and sexually abusing women he “counseled” by his church’s bishop and elders) jinned up a storm of protests against the officer in question, including rallies at the state capital and protests in front of the officer’s home. The good reverend, of course, had done nothing for the shooting victim while she was alive, but wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to ride her corpse to local prominence. In an attempt to pacify the black community the officer in question was suspended without pay for 900 hours and brought to trial (found not guilty) against the recommendation of a grand jury.
Every time a Portland cop is forced to shoot someone to save his own life it is not merely enough to investigate the incident, the officer must be raked over the coals even if found guilty of no wrong doing. Some people think that it is never necessary for an officer to draw his gun or to shoot someone. Those people are fools.
This week came word that the Portland Police Department is finding it impossible to find recruits to fill open positions. The police PR hack says it’s because of low pay and long hours. Honest cops may not get rich, but they are decently paid and have one hell of a benefit and retirement package. Ask the rank and file and they’ll tell you the real reason Portland can’t find recruits – in a city that won’t stand by its cops, is it any wonder so few men and women want to be cops?