Former Portland Police officer weighs in on Chief’s accidental s - KPTV - FOX 12

Former Portland Police officer weighs in on Chief’s accidental shooting investigation

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Larry O'Dea, the Chief of the Portland Police Bureau (KPTV) Larry O'Dea, the Chief of the Portland Police Bureau (KPTV)
Former Portland Police officer John Hurlman Monday. (KPTV) Former Portland Police officer John Hurlman Monday. (KPTV)

As several investigations are underway after Portland Police Chief Larry O’Dea admitted to accidentally shooting a friend while on a hunting trip in Harney County in April, a former officer says the way it has been handled represents a very clear double-standard that is hurting morale.

The shooting happened April 21 but nothing was said publicly about it for a month.

The 54-year-old man who was shot, who still hasn’t been identified, was flown to a hospital for treatment and was later released.

Monday, the Harney County Sheriff’s Office said the call initially came in as an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, but “further information was gathered which contradicted” that.

Now, Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Justice and the Independent Police Review Board are all investigating.

Portland Police released a statement saying Chief O’Dea is under a gag order and unable to comment about what happened.

“Nobody stepped up to say, ‘Hey, gee, maybe this is something the public’s going to want to know about?’ Instead, they kept it quiet?” said Portland Police officer John Hurlman. “That’s really shirking their responsibilities and it’s not the way that would be handled with someone of a lesser rank.”

Hurlman told Fox 12 he’s spoken with several friends who still work in the Bureau and there’s a common feeling that the handling of Chief O’Dea’s case represents a very large double-standard that’s hurting morale.

Hurlman said any other officer would have been put on desk duty at a minimum, or perhaps put on administrative leave pending an investigation, and the public would have been notified almost immediately.

But in this case, none of that happened.

“The attempt to keep it quiet may end up being worse than the reporting of the incident itself,” he said. “Even if he’s not removed, I think his reputation and his effectiveness are going to be permanently diminished because he won’t have any respect from the people he’s leading.”

Hurlman was in the headlines himself in November, for posting a tweet from his personal account that read: “Black Lives Matter is planning to protest at Lloyd Center on black Friday. Oh joy, stuck late again at work again to babysit these fools.”

Within hours of the post, Hurlman said he was put on desk duty and an internal affairs investigation was launched. He retired a few months later.

“I was simply venting about having to be stuck at work because of a protest on a holiday weekend,” Hurlman maintained Monday, adding that he never violated directives.

He said he knows several officers who have disciplined for various things, including one case in which an officer rolled his eyes at a motorist whom he gave a warning to.

Now, he’s hoping the city’s top cop will be held to the same standard.

“If an officer can get an IA investigation for rolling their eyes, the chief needs to have some accountability when he shoots someone,” Hurlman added.

Again, Chief O’Dea is unable to comment about the events of April 21 or the subsequent investigation because of the written Communication Restriction Order (CRO) he’s been given by the Bureau’s Professional Standards Division, prohibiting him from discussing the facts of the case.

Fox 12 also reached out to Mayor Charlie Hales office for comment, as he serves as the police commissioner, but a spokesperson said the Mayor is traveling and these investigations are standard procedure.

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