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Sep-04-2012 02:50printcomments

Let's Talk About the Salem Police Department

What's it going to take to get police in Oregon's capitol city to treat media with respect?

Salem Police pursuit
Photo: http://twitter.com/salem_police

(SALEM) - Jerry Freeman's frequent negative contacts with Salem Police as a news photographer are problematic. The open and flagrant abuse of media by police is not sitting well with us. I can't understand why these officers who yell and scream like they have no control over their emotions at all, feel compelled to show Jerry who is in charge when they have actual criminals to deal with. It always makes me wonder what it is they have to hide. It seems clear that this battle for public information has to be fought in the open, and our public dissemination of this information is the only option. If we reveal enough, it might lead to a better day for all of us.

Salem PD's approach to media is very small town at best, and needs to change. The problem is not ours to fix, it is theirs; and it does impact our local news coverage and Jerry's ability to earn a living.

All of this continues as a problem, when Jerry and I have gone out of our way at least three different times that I immediately recall, to cover events that Salem Police asked us to cover; one was a story about police dogs; another was about police officers being awarded, and one was about Salem Police officers who were part of a Memorial Torch Run. All three of these stories were videotaped and required many hours of labor to complete.

Each time Jerry and I hope the good relations will pay off by Salem officers respecting Jerry's Civil Rights and his humanity and each time it fails to happen. We'll air clips in the future of police that in the past were never shown. They dismiss our needs because we aren't corporate owned media, yet we can light the Internet up and leave people talking. All we want are to be granted our rights as Americans, is that too much to ask?
- Tim King Salem-News.com news editor

Jerry Freeman: Let's Talk About the Salem Police Department

Jerry Freeman from Salem-News

It seems to me that any police department seeking good public relations, which renew the faith of taxpayers in their city agencies, would start by building good media rapport.

But my experience with the Salem Police Department as a news photographer covering the area for Portland television stations (If the story is big enough, it might be CNN or one of the other networks) and Salem-News.com, has been one of them demanding my cooperation and respect, and in far too many cases offering no respect in return. Not for my fifty years of life, professional standards or moral judgement.

And as far as cooperating, I have never had a Salem Police officer say to me, "Now that its all clear would you like to get a good video clip?"

I have had many Salem officers tell me, "You wait here..." (three or four blocks away) "...we will come give you a statement shortly," only to complete their job and leave without saying a word or keeping their end of the deal.

One night Salem PD was using the SWAT team to serve a warrant in west Salem. They established a one block in each direction perimeter, and maintained that perimeter for no less than 3 hours. I openly worked one side with my camera the whole time, watching and recording SWAT members in the moment; armored vehicles rolling down the street.

But when I finally got around to the the side of the perimeter that the command vehicles were parked on, (this is behind the lines kind of stuff), and started to work, I heard two officers across the street talking about shinning a flashlight at my camera to get me to go away, with no regard for my having a job to do; one that is so important toward maintaining our liberty that the founders made it a part of the First Amendment of The Constitution of the United States.

A moment later another officer came out of the darkness and told me they would be moving the perimeter two blocks farther away and I needed to leave. Remember that they deemed the first perimeter good enough for more than three hours.

Twice so far I have had the Salem Police Departments PIO (Public Information Officer) come to me to talk about what he sees as my misbehavior. The first time I was counseled, I had done nothing even remotely illegal or unethical; it wasn’t even a Salem Police crime scene.

The second time Lt. Okada had a talk with me, he started off in a way that seemed patronizing; telling me he has always found me easy to work with, (I am if you give as good as you expect), but then he went straight into how I should always talk to the sergeants on scene and, "They will help me get the shot and or the information I need." "You just need to work with them," I was told, "...and they will work with me."

The case he was referring to began as a water rescue, which makes it a Fire Dept. scene (they never want to hide from the camera). In fact while making access to the scene I encountered fire personnel, no police. Firefighters informed me that I could not use a certain trail down to the water's edge, so I used another one.

After getting on the shoreline and taking several video shots, I was approached by a particularly unfriendly sergeant from Salem Police who confronted me, ordering me to leave. He refused to let me go back the way I came, even as I tried to explain to him that I had left gear behind on the trail that I had walked down, and I needed to recover it on my way out - no dice.

In another incident, I had a Salem PD officer try to make me stay away from a scene for no reason other than to keep my camera from recording what they had done. One of the Salem officers had shot a dog that many neighbors told me was very friendly and playful. The only neighbor that told me a different story also spent 15 minutes complaining to me about all of the neighbors and all of their dogs.

We all have the First Amendment Right which allows us to observe events from public property. But when I show up with a camera, the police sometimes begin moving large numbers of the public away from safe viewing areas, so they would have a better leg to stand on when they order my camera and I out of the area.

I could go on for a long time with examples of this kind of disrespect for your rights to see what your tax-paid employees are doing. But just let me point out that I could not tell you any stories about Salem Police officers doing anything to be of any real help to me trying to bring you the up close coverage of news in your city and your state capitol that you deserve. I guess when Lt. Okada tells me I just need to work with them he means I should just stay home and forget about YOUR VERY FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT YOUR CITY SERVANTS ARE DOING.

Just in case the Salem Police Department would like to get to a better way of working with your eyes and ears, here are couple of suggestions.

  • After any reasonable concerns of safety or crime scene contamination have been addressed then come to the media people on hand and offer any information you have, and if at all possible give us controlled access to the scene for the opportunity to get some picture’s or video to share with the folks, the Bosses!
  • Also let me remind Chief Jerry Moore and his officers about the appearance of impropriety being as bad as any actual impropriety. Just stop acting like the public's eyes and ears are the enemy and stop making the assumption that reporters and photographers are dummies that can’t make a sound decision without your guidance.

The public deserves better than the police department has been delivering.

Thank You Salem, for letting me bring you some of your local news. We at Salem-News.com do it for no other reason than because Salem needs more people willing to stand up for your right to know what is going on in your city, and around your world.

And remember it is your world. just because we delegate some authority to small groups of people, doesn't mean they get to violate your rights in the process of being 'in charge'.

You Are! Remind Them!

Jerry Freeman Bearing Witness On Our World

_________________________________

Jerry Freeman is part of a new generation of dedicated news photographers who entered the Internet news industry as a second career. He shares in common with many people who fulfilled their life dream of becoming a visual journalist. Joining the Navy at an early age, and the Oregon Army Guard a few years later, Jerry has a wide range of life experiences. He describes himself as “a truck driver with a new found passion to bear witness to the world’s events.”

Teaming up with Salem-News.com he embarked on a new career as a video news photographer and reporter. Jerry's quick exhibition of natural talent and ability to shoot breaking news led to his becoming a published member of the Salem-News.com team. You can write to Jerry Freeman at: videoshooter@live.com

___________________________

Tim King has over 20 years of experience on the west coast as a TV news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim has worked as a war correspondent in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com

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Anonymous February 7, 2013 3:48 am (Pacific time)

Although this comment is coming rather late after your "article", I'm outraged by your insults and ignorance. Respect needs to be earned. If you aren't respecting police boundaries why should they give you the respect of allowing you to take photos or video of incidents?

 Editor: Because the First Amendment guarantees our right to public access.  Law is law, respect is another matter, only relevant when police are overstepping their boundaries.

It's obvious you have nothing but contempt for the police department in lieu of all their effort to protect the community and citizens.

 Editor: Actually, Jerry has a history of being the only journalist to show up at events like Salem Police promotions and awards and other events to honor fallen officers.

Maybe one of the reasons they don't want you taking video of SWAT operations is because there might be concern regarding the person they are trying to detain watching the news and seeing officers approaching the back window and killing them? It's interesting you portray the department's desire to keep the public in the dark, yet they have amazing relationships with other media outlets.

 Editor: I worked at KATU in Portland before Salem-News, and your claim is simply not true.  It is so problematic that the stations have all sent representatives to the quarterly media meetings to complain, and to convince Salem PD to raise the bar and act like a city police department rather than a backwoods brigade.  

In fact, if their news choppers are getting too close to reveal tactical strategy, they ask the media to move back and its done instantly. There was an agreement imposed between media and SPD several years ago coming to an agreement for how news and details were released.

Editor: Apples and oranges.  I have my time flying in news helicopters, of course they are willing to cooperate, nobody has a goal of disrupting police operations, and we respect the SWAT team when they ask us to not photograph certain elements of their operation, but the SWAT teams do not outrank the right of the public, we do cooperate however without a problem.

It wouldn't be appropriate for the police to reveal instant information about a crime if the details are being investigated or they are waiting to notify the family members of someone injured or killed. Think about it. How would you feel if your kid or spouse was killed and you found out about it on the news before being privately notified including cause of death? Sometimes investigations and analyzing evidence can take a while. Providing false details or facts too early could result in legal implications costing taxpayers more money (unnecessary).

Editor: We do not disrespect the standard protocols.  Rarely is the need to withhold information justified though, it is about many things beyond that.  I remember when Police refused to share information on missing children with media, it is ridiculous to be quite honest, they and we would get along fine if the police only follow the law and respect our civil rights, and if they don't we will end up in court and the courts are on the side of the media.  Many Americans have given their lives to uphold those laws and civil rights and we take them seriously..

Your entire perception of this topic is completely incorrect, and you should be ashamed of yourself trying to poison the public against those who seek to protect them. Every agency has had (or has) its share of "bad seeds", but generalizing the entire department and minimizing the fact these officers put their lives on the line everyday to protect you and your loved ones is plain ungrateful.

Editor: Jerry Freeman has a job to do and he will do it and no officers of the law will stop him or we will sue them and force them to respect our civil rights and the First Amendment.  You sir, should study up, because you appear to have a highly skewed view of what law is and is not.

I would encourage anybody who buys into this garbage being presented to call some of the local news channels (FOX, KATU, ABC, etc.) and ask them about their relationship with SPD. I've spoken with news affiliates as well as SPD officers regarding this topic and you are misrepresenting the facts.

I could go on and on with how offensive and disappointing your "story" is and presenting yourself as one for the people. I don't see you putting your life on the line every day to make the community safer. When others are running away from the problem, the SPD is running towards it. If you're so unhappy with how our police department protects its citizens and their rights, move to another city...

Editor Au contraire, we will instead change the way things operate in Salem.  As I stated, I was with KATU, which you see yourself as an expert on, and it is not what you suggest or imply.  And why do you not have the guts or integrity to simply list your name?  Next time you want to read us the riot act you will disclose your ID or I will flush your comment.

Show some appreciation and report the facts. Oh, and another news flash for you.... the "bad cops" are investigated and let go. The department does care about their reputation, which is why there are job openings without increased budgets (and it isn't due to retirement). The Chief has made many improvements to the department since taking his position. In fact, maybe you should look at how Salem treats domestic violence crimes (and resources provided to victims) compared to other counties.

Editor: I can cite many examples of that not being the case.

I'm not a police officer, nor am I employed by law enforcement. I've participated in patrol ride along observations and have seen how they treat criminals with dignity and respect even when arresting them on outstanding warrants.

 Editor: So you're not media or police but feel ever so qualified to be the expert, very sad to be honest.

Maybe those of you who have had bad experiences with SPD should get a little more involved to learn about their mission statement and values versus basing opinions on yours (or someone you know) criminal history.

Editor: Actually sir, Salem is just one place where police have a tendency to overstep the rules and laws that are designed to protect civilians.  When the police can't even cooperate with the media, imagine how they treat other people.  I have almost 25 years of experience as a working journalist in all parts of this country and this world and the problems we see in Salem are present all over this nation.  The police agencies that require bachelor degrees seem to have the fewest problems.  Since you are such a diehard unwavering fan of Salem Police, perhaps you will suggest that they do what other cities do and hire a full-time PIO to handle the needs of media instead of dumping those duties on the shoulders of working police lieutenants who already have their hands full.  The funny thing is that Jerry and I always enjoy good relations with police, but they view us as the enemy.  We didn't start this, they have a responsibility to live in the 21st century.  We already do.


BeachGoddess September 13, 2012 11:39 pm (Pacific time)

Anonymous I would be interested in talking with you about the officer who was recently shot and his abuse of authority. E-mail me at BeachGoddess49@aol.com


Anonymous September 8, 2012 8:35 am (Pacific time)


N.J. Jury Rules Black Supervisors Discriminated Against White Corrections Officers
CBA ^ | 9/6/2012 | CBS

RENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey discrimination suit has been settled with two white corrections officers winning against the state’s Department of Corrections.

The outcome of the lawsuit is seen as a big win for corrections officers Joe Milutin and Bob Healey. Both were awarded more than $3 million in damages.

“I’m happy. I was vindicated and that’s all that matters,” Healey said.

Milutin, meanwhile, told CBS 2′s John Slattery on Thursday that he felt “relieved.”

The two men had charged that over several years, they were harassed by black corrections supervisors, who allowed black inmates to abuse them at the Bordentown Boot Camp Jail.

“I had racial remarks used against me, I’ll leave it at that,” Healey said. “It was demeaning.”

His attorneys said the two officers were subjected to a litany of slurs by black supervisors.

“They were called, ‘crackers,’ ‘white devils,’ ‘onions,’ which we learned was an epithet used by one individual supervisor to refer to white people,” said attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo.

Editor: Right, in Oregon it is the other way around- as we know from the story of former prison guard William Coleman who is Black; there are no such answers for the Black man, but white men in NJ are given this level of respect.  White men suing successfully for racial harassment while Oregon gets away with murder.  Thanks for the post, and I am glad for these guys of course if they were suffering racism and I'm sure they were.  It is wrong every time regardless of who does what.


Luke Easter September 7, 2012 7:05 pm (Pacific time)

Re: LaVena Lynn Johnson, those cops are Military Personnel. Different set of rules as to the right to present the truth due to Mayor and City Council Review(s) not freely secured within the Military structure. I was employed by both and there’s a night and day difference.
City cops deal with all kinds of crime and are subject to civilian review at any given time.

The Military however, have their set of rules not subject to interpretation by anyone outside the rank and file. Article 37 is nowhere near state and city revised codes geared more toward protection and safety or residents. Whereas, Military procedures highlight stability only of the Armed Forces as a whole and individuals have no part. Case in point, denial of thousands of bonafide PTSD claims. Rejected only on the defense of dollars and cents cost to the U.S. Government. BTW, defense attorneys would most certainly have PFC Johnson’s findings reversed in the face of evidence to the contrary. Not so with the DOJ.

Editor: Love ya Luke. all respect.  Semper fi


Anonymous September 7, 2012 7:57 am (Pacific time)

On the official website of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU writes, broadly speaking, “Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right… Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply."


Luke Easter September 6, 2012 7:16 pm (Pacific time)

They don't work for the people but they are paid by them through taxes. They work for right over wrong aka justice. Isaiah 1:17. In a crisis situation the first thing people do is dial 911, not a cameraman.

Tim King: They don't work for the people, glad you understand that, sorry you don't have more interest in the point I am making in this article.    I think we are hitting a fundamental point where we will have to agree to disagree.  Hail all the good cops in this world, damn the criminals in uniform.  Of course Oregon is racist and surely you don't misunderstand how troubling it all is, anyway in an ideal world we wouldn't be talking about this, if cops followed the rules set our by our forefathers we would be OK.  They need higher standards and I don't give them any more room for error than they give us, and it isn't much.  

And cameramen are some of the biggest heroes in this world sometimes.  Cops, they're just awesome, like the ones who investigated the Laveena Johnson case... you know the cops who said she lit herself on fire, busted her lip, managed to be sexually violated, and her public area set on fire.   And the cops said 'suicide'.  I don't know what part of this fails to make sense, it makes perfect sense to me.  Some cops are good people and some are worse than anyone they investigate and blind support of them is a big mistake, I know my job as a reporter is to be critical of these elements of government.  


Anonymous September 6, 2012 6:31 am (Pacific time)

Those people who have problems with law enforcement generally have problems in other areas of their lives. I have yet run into a minority who does not blame someone else for their situation which is always their fault,and never that worn out excuse...racism, because they are the real racists'. Just look at their crime rates against their genetic superiors. Soon we will deal a final blow to their criminal assaults, a final blow, in SELF DEFENSE. Then we have the whites, generally poorly educated and wannabes, they hate all authority. Yeah their are bad cops, bad bosses, bad weather, etc. , deal with it, find solutions rather than this oh so usual blame it all on others scenario that weak people always do. AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT YOU CANNOT CONTROL YOUR BEHAVIOR, YOU ARE GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED, AND YOU ARE DOOMED.


September 5, 2012 11:48 am (Pacific time)

The police need to understand that they cannot stop cameras and witnesses forever. TV stations to start using military drones: http://rt.com/usa/news/military-drone-law-news-444/


September 4, 2012 6:31 pm (Pacific time)

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it." Martin Luther King

Editor: Amen to that.


Luke Easter September 4, 2012 4:35 pm (Pacific time)

Why let the criminals see or read about police procedeure?

To be better able to defeat the system? Can you film military tactics?

Editor: 

1)  Because they work for us and people forget that.  The public, who  desire to know more, be better informed, are not criminals.                                                                           (Of course convincing the police of that is another matter.)

2)  How does showing a water rescue or car crash defeat anything? 

3)  Well I'm pretty sure you  know I have covered operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, you know those immoral wars Bush started? 


Anonymous September 4, 2012 4:20 pm (Pacific time)

The police act like thugs themselves and then wonder why they have NO help from the public. I have known about a couple of pretty major things that could have helped them break open cases they have not solved to date. I refuse to help them because they have just as many law-breaking thugs within their own ranks. Do they care if they are alienating the public? After talking directly to the, the answer is "NO!" You hear about such behavior within certain gang-infested neighborhoods and now you know why people keep their moths shut.


Anonymous September 4, 2012 1:34 pm (Pacific time)

Police, like pizza delivery personnel simply need to stay out of these "hoods." Look at Chicago, Obama's home town where a felon name Rizzo bought his mansion, I mean look at these animals. Let them all just live on their own. To see how it will eventually be in Chicago, or any minority-controlled location, go to Detroit or any city/town in Africa. Why waste our resources on these animals!

Tim King: Sound like you could use your own pooper scooper Mr. wanker racist.  It must be sad to be so wrong and determined, I'm sorry that low IQ folks aren't able to rise above racism, I do feel sorry for you having to manage life with such a mental disability..


September 4, 2012 6:05 am (Pacific time)

Okada USED to be a decent guy, but he has been under pressure by others in the department and he stopped supporting his oath and has let the scum take over.


TATTOO USA September 4, 2012 10:03 am (Pacific time)

GOOD WORK JERRY WE HAVE INSTALLED CAMS ON A FEW CARS IN THE HOOD WIRELESS FOR A FEW ANGELS, AS WELL ON SOME BIKES.TIME TO POST SOME WE HAVE BEEN SAVING....


Luke Easter September 4, 2012 8:36 am (Pacific time)

On the contrary and why, leaks to the media, re: “confidential sources within the department disclose…” A police department’s worse nightmare is information passed on through improper channels as it is usually reported out of context for sensationalism. An untrained reporter on the inside usually looks and writes from a public point of view instead of a trained law enforcement official. Fraternizing is also detrimental between the opposite sexes, i.e., male officer and female reporter etc., etc., as the reporter’s job is to gather as much information as possible for the almighty, “exclusive story” to catapult to stardom. Higher pay, promotion, bigger office, network news… Police departments must chose very meticulously who to allow access to classified info. Not the mayor’s daughter
or the alderman’s son in law and the like. Even the average Joe or Joann within the department isn’t privy to everything and for good reason too.

Editor: I'm not sure where this connects to the problems Jerry is experiencing?  We're bare bones in our intent, just the facts- that's all we're looking for,, and when the police won't fulfill their most basic job duties, (after all is is about public safety) then we are all losing and they are failing.

 The thing is the information is for the most part, public.

And say, what about all of those little kids who died over the years or were never recovered from abductions because the cops didn't believe they should 'share information with the media?.  Yeah, a real great public service they perform with their egotistical natures get in the way


Anonymous September 4, 2012 6:15 am (Pacific time)

One of the Salem P.D. highest-ranking was involved in a lawsuit that probably makes them all extremely concerned about people with cameras getting too close to hear what they are doing and saying. Birr is a scumbag and knows that there is a hot place in hell for him to reside when his time on this Earth is complete.


Anonymous September 4, 2012 5:56 am (Pacific time)

They have arrested people for many illegal reasons, using whatever charges they think will stick. They testified that filming them is "interception of communications" and the D.A.'s office believes that it is illegal to record them while doing their duties in public (which is in direct violation of several Supreme Court decisions.)

The Salem police do NOT want the public to witness them doing their jobs. There are several cases going back at least a decade of (Salem) police malfeasance in this area. They spend an exorbitant amount defending themselves in court when they cross the boundaries. Because the system in slanted in their favor, we will never see them change. One of their most prolific violators was recently shot. He used to be a sgt., but was demoted due to his behaviors. They still won't fire the piece of shit, and I imagine he will continue to abuse his authority.

I wish you guys would mention the names of the perps so that the public can be aware of the problem police. I wish the good police cared enough to actually get rid of the bad police that tarnish their reputation. Too bad we don't have a mayor with the desire to do something. But the police union is the most funded entity in the City of Salem and the police budget dwarfs all other agencies. They cannot be stopped because we have a toothless council. Even the "police" oversight has been taken over by the mayor's office to make sure that there are NO reviews of any complaints.

No you guys obviously are aware of the treatment the police inflict on civilians. Wait until they decide to arrest you guys for "interfering" which is their new favorite tool to harass innocent civilians. It happens so often it would blow your mind. The D.A. has a low-life attorney who actually TRAINS the police how to cover their tracks with this bogus charge whenever they need to make sure that they might be crossing the line of false arrest.

They need a stern hand at the helm, but Moore is not the guy who gives a crap. He is just "one of them". They "act" like they wonder why they have little support from the citizens of this city, yet they know what they are doing to screw themselves when they arrest and harass people and then circle the wagons to make sure the truth never gets to the public.

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