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Rookie Cop Sues Over Forced Resignation

A former rookie Oregon police officer who was forced to resign for reporting her training officer’s egregious misconduct is suing the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).

Lindsay K. Hunt realized her dream of becoming a police officer when she was hired by PPB on July 24, 2006. But that dream quickly became Hunt’s nightmare.

Hunt was assigned to work the Northeast Portland Precinct and was partnered with Field Training Officer Quency Ho. After working with Ho just four days, Hunt went to supervisors with complaints that Ho refused to complete a required “use-of-force” report after drawing his weapon and attacking a citizen, ordered citizens to get rid of a knife used in a crime, used excessive force, ordered Hunt to falsify a police report, and repeatedly took goods from convenience stores without paying for them. When Hunt refused to take an unpurchased item from a store, Ho replied, “Come on. We’re the [expletive] police. Nobody cares. It’s fine.”

As Hunt complained to her supervisors and training division officers, she was repeatedly warned to keep quiet and “look the other way.” Supervisors responded to her complaints by transferring her to the Central Precinct on May 31, 2007.

The day before Hunt’s transfer, training officer William Hubner met her at a coffee shop. He called her a “coward” and said she “started a rebellion in the Northeast” because officers were no longer permitted to take goods from convenience stores, which, of course, was pretty inconvenient for them.

Hubner told Hunt to “be quiet about these incidents” because she had a lot of potential. When Hunt objected, Hubner told her she would no longer get officer back-up on the streets.

During Hunt’s first day at Central Precinct, she didn’t feel safe and she told an officer, “I don’t think I can do this.” She was then ordered to turn in her gear. She was told that she would need to formally resign “to make things official.” She signed resignation papers on June 4, 2007.

On May 22, 2008, Hunt filed suit against the City, Ho, Hubner and five other officers, seeking $850,000 in damages. “Lindsay Hunt was devastated by what she saw out there and was tortured within herself about what she wanted to do because she really wanted to be a Portland police officer,” said Dennis Steinman, Hunt’s attorney.

PPB Spokesman Brian Schmautz claims the Bureau took Hunt’s complaints seriously and told her that she did the right thing by reporting them. An investigation found only one of Hunt’s allegations to be valid, according to Schmautz, and one officer received a letter of reprimand for a “minor rule violation.” Schmautz refused to identify the officer or the violation. Steinman said he was aware of an internal inquiry, but little action was taken. “I think it’s consistent with the conspiracy of silence that apparently is the current policy of the Portland police,” said Steinman.

Schmautz says the bureau encouraged Hunt not to resign, but as Steinman notes, the July issue of the “Rap Sheet,” the police union’s newspaper, tells a much different story. An unidentified officer writing under the pseudonym “John Brogan” made a veiled reference to a Northeast Precinct trainee who complained about her coach and wrote that she was looking for “an excuse” to quit. “To those who are currently trainees, try keeping your mouth shut,” warned the anonymous officer. “Remember, that you are not entitled to this job.” Source: The Oregonian

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