06-21-2018  2:27 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

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MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

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Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

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Researchers to study why seabird species is disappearing

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Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington and more than a half-dozen other states said Thursday that they plan to sue the Trump administration over a policy of separating immigrant families illegally entering the United States.Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson made the announcement Thursday...

APNewsBreak: Schools mum on ties to doc in sex abuse inquiry

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A now-dead doctor accused of sexual misconduct by former student athletes at Ohio State University said he acted as a team physician at other universities, most of which won't say if they are reviewing those connections or whether any concerns were raised about him.Ohio...


How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...


Intel CEO out after consensual relationship with employee

NEW YORK (AP) — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called a past, consensual relationship with an employee.Intel said Thursday that the relationship was in violation of the company's non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. Spokesman...

3 men face hate crimes charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury has added civil rights and hate crimes violations to charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington.Federal prosecutors announced the new five-count indictment Thursday against 47-year-old Michael Hari,...

Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia's governor ordered state officials Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete...


AP PHOTOS: Toasts, kisses and laughs at Clooney AFI gala

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Mike Colter brings the pain as the indestructible Luke Cage

ATLANTA (AP) — "Black Panther" broke box office records, but "Luke Cage" once crashed Netflix.The streaming service suffered a massive outage for more than two hours in 2016, one day after the premiere of "Luke Cage," a drama-action series starring Mike Colter who plays the show's superhero...

Directors Guild says industry is still mostly white and male

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study by the Directors Guild of America finds that despite high-profile releases like "Get Out" and "Wonder Woman," film directors remained overwhelmingly white and male among the movies released last year.The DGA examined all 651 feature films released theatrically in...


Intel CEO out after consensual relationship with employee

NEW YORK (AP) — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called a past,...

New evidence that viruses may play a role in Alzheimer's

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely claims progress on NKorea nukes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is trumpeting results of his summit with North Korean leader Kim...

Libyan coast guard rescues over 520 Europe-bound migrants

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Switzerland, Serbia coaches don't want to talk about Kosovo

KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — The coaches of Serbia and Switzerland only want to talk about football, not...

Trump jabbed first, and now world hits back in trade fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States attacked first, imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from around the...

Officer Tom Pennington
By Donovan M. Smith | The Skanner News

The magic of a ride-along, according to Portland Police Bureau’s Officer Tom Pennington, is getting to see the interaction between police and citizens.

With conversations around police accountability continuing to brew across the nation, The Skanner News sent reporter Donovan M. Smith on a ride-along for a glimpse into the working lives of Portland police.

Officer Pennington, an eight-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau served as host for the four-hour trip around East County, a part of town that is rapidly changing due to development in the city core.

“Everything that people see in the movies, everything people see in the news, none of that is predominantly what police work is about,” Officer Pennington says. “Police work, predominately, is about giving people what they need so they can be successful in life. And I believe in that. I mean, I really believe in that.”

The last few years have seen a spike in media coverage of policing and police accountability.

 “When I go to a call, I’m not thinking about the latest headline, I’m thinking about my personal safety and what’s waiting for me on this call,” he says. “So, if anything national perception or the national conversation highlights discussions that need to be talked about but I don’t feel that that plays into how I interact with people.”

Officer Tom Pennington--photo by Donovan M. Smith

And while headlines may not factor into how Officer Pennington does his job, statistics might. Last year, 50 officers were killed by firearms — a third of which were in ambush-style attacks. Not just that, but that number was a 50 percent increase from the 32 officers killed just a year before.

Here in Portland, 29 have been killed in the line of duty since the force’s inception in 1867. In that time, about one-third of those deaths have been attributed to gunfire.

In his eight years on the force, Officer Pennington, a former military cop, says one of the scariest moments for him happened this March. He says had to make a split decision about whether to fire his gun when a large crowd of teenagers congregated around the East Precinct. The crowd, numbering in the hundreds, had been at a birthday party. Shots rang out while Pennington was checking out the scene.

 “It was not that far away from where I was standing, and I was really scared because I thought either I or someone else was going be hit by gunfire.”

The alleged shooter was 16-year-old boy from Portland.

Officer Pennington decided against using force.

“In a case like that, you have to ask yourself is deadly, lethal force necessary to keep everyone safe. And I remember thinking in that split moment that there were too many other juveniles in the area for me to risk that. I just couldn’t risk it. That was very scary for me,” he says.

So far this year, there have been two cases of Portland Police officers firing their weapons.

The first came in February – Officer Charles Asheim, a member of the Gang Enforcement Team, fired at Ryan Sudlow during a traffic stop in Gresham after Sudlow allegedly attempted to flee police.

No one was injured in the shooting, Sudlow was detained, and after about two weeks of administrative leave, Asheim was reinstated to the gang squad.

The second of this year’s shootings proved fatal.

In March, officers responding to an alleged burglary in progress came into contact with suspect Tom Healy, who was allegedly wielding a knife. Police say Healy was charging at them with knife before Officer Thomas Clark hit the man with two bullets while Officer Royce Curtiss followed that up with a Taser.

Pennington says he has never has fired his weapon, something he is thankful for.

He says he only sees his gun as a “life-saving tool.”

“It is the worst fear of every officer, to have to use our firearm. We dread it. We dread it because either our or someone else’s life is at risk, and that’s just the worst fear,” Pennington says.

Same goes for the Tasers all Portland Police officers carry, says Pennington.

However, if an officer fires a gun, Pennington says, it makes no sense to shoot to wound. So if they fire, he tells The Skanner, initially it will be to kill.

“There should never be a time to shoot to wound,” he says, explaining that the trajectory of a bullet. Once it enters the body, it can be unpredicatable. “There are plenty of instances where a bullet has hit somebody in the knee and ricocheted and came out of their neck or some kind of [similar] reaction.”

“The only time a firearm is used is in a lethal force situation.”

In the four hours The Skanner spent with Officer Pennington, only two stops were made.

The first was for a domestic disturbance where he and another officer simply acted as mediators between the two parties asking one to step away from the house for a few hours to cool down.

The second, and last, stop came from the family of a man living with dementia who’d forgotten where he lives. Officer Pennington, who spent a year serving in the Behavioral Health Unit, talked with the man for close to twenty minutes, and helped him back into his residence.

Officer Pennington then referred the man’s family to some social service agencies that may be better equipped to help with similar incidents in the future.

Following that call, the remainder of the trip was mostly filled with questions about the day-to-day life of a police officer.

“It really is a privilege for me to serve in this job. I feel like I’m serving in a noble cause, to a noble people,” Pennington says.

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