Policing the police

This story has been told over and over this past week, and it’s worth telling again. How many times have we seen police committing traffic violations, or speeding past us with no blue lights on, and felt like we should do something? And for attorneys, how many times have we felt sick as we watched an officer lie through his teeth on the witness stand after taking an oath to tell the truth in court?
Eric Bryant was at the SanSai Japanese Grill in Portland Oregon when he saw a police car pull up in front of the restaurant and park illegally in front of a no parking sign. Surely he was about to serve a warrant on someone, take down a suspected robber, or perpetrate some other similar police emergency type action. Instead, Officer Chad Stensgaard proceeded to watch a basketball game and wait for his food.
Bryant confronted the officer about his parking, and got a smart ass response, “If someone broke into your house, would you rather have the police be able to park in front of your house or have to park three blocks away and walk there?” The officer told Bryant he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
It turns out that Bryant had just passed the bar exam, and he discovered an Oregon statute that allows private citizens to initiate violation proceedings (ORS 153.058). Officer Stensgaard subsequently received a summons, initiated by Bryant, to appear in traffic court to face charges of illegal parking, illegal stopping, failure to obey parking restrictions on state highways, and illegal operation of an emergency vehicle. His court date is May 23.
According to KATU.com, Cathe Kent, a spokewoman for the Portland Police Bureau, said that Stensgaard would fight the complaint in court, “as he rightfully should.”
Hats off to Eric Bryant, for stepping up and holding the police accountable, and for bringing national attention to these small abuses of authority that are too-often overlooked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *