Email sent by PBOT director after Dallas shootings under scrutin - KPTV - FOX 12

Email sent by PBOT director after Dallas shootings under scrutiny

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PBOT Director Leah Treat (Courtesy: PBOT Director Leah Treat (Courtesy:

An email sent by the director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation is getting attention, after some people say Director Leah Treat’s remarks reflect negatively on police.

In an internal email sent to PBOT employees the day after five police officers were gunned down in Texas, Director Treat wrote:

“I spent the better part of last night and this morning reading, listening and watching news about Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas protests. I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. But I am not hopeless. Nor am I without direction. My personal commitment to be part of the change is more resolute than ever. I hope yours is too. As you reflect on what that looks like and how you want to show up in this conversation, I offer some advice I’ve taken from Justin C. Cohen.”

The majority of the email is a text copy from a Huffington Post blog entry written by Cohen entitled “Advice For White Folks In The Wake Of The Police Killing Of A Black Person.” Part of the text says: “If you’re White, don’t look to your friends of color for answers today” and the article talks about the “illegal killing of black people by the police” and “police executions.”

Director Treat ends the email by saying:

“We are all allies together and we need to take care of each other. Our collective energy, compassion, and shared interests need to overcome the weariness, the desperation and the sadness that may steal our focus. I hope you will join me in a moment of silence today at noon. In that moment I will be reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his words, ‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.’”

The Portland Bureau of Transportation released a statement to Fox 12 regarding the email, saying:

“On Friday, July 8th, Director Leah Treat sent an internal email to staff expressing her personal reaction to the week’s tragic events. Her message was intended to comfort employees during a trying time, to express her commitment to a more equitable and inclusive future and to encourage dialogue about difficult issues. Providing a safe, inclusive workplace for an increasingly diverse workforce is a high priority for the City of Portland, and Director Treat’s message was aligned with this goal. Director Treat and PBOT staff work closely with the Portland Police Bureau on a variety of issues, including traffic safety and emergency response. Director Treat and PBOT are also dedicated to reflecting the City of Portland’s racial equity values and commitments. This is a challenging time in our country and in Portland. For that reason, the City of Portland has offered employees resources such as counseling and facilitated conversations to help them reflect on the recent events and to understand and learn from each other. PBOT encourages its employees to take full advantage of these resources.”

Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees PBOT, released the following statement to Fox 12 regarding the issue:

“I appreciated seeing that Leah reached out to PBOT employees to share that she, too, was feeling affected by the tragic events of last week—events that deeply affected the entire country. Leah wanted to provide some reflection to her employees and did not provide any direction or call to action. She acknowledged that some PPB officers felt that the excerpt from Justin C. Cohen’s article implicitly cast the entire profession in a bad light and she has since talked with Daryl Turner to make it clear that that was not her intent.  PBOT and Leah have a very close working relationship with the Portland Police Bureau and Leah and I both appreciate every single officer. They put their lives on the line every day for all Portlanders, and we share in their sadness in the wake of the Dallas shootings, just as we share in the sadness of all City employees for the events of last week.”

Sara Hottman, a spokesperson for Mayor Charlie Hales, provided the following:

“The City of Portland has dedicated significant resources to creating an equitable organization — equity roadmaps, equitable hiring policies, the Office of Equity and Human Rights, etc. Director Treat’s message aligns with that organizational value of courageous conversations about difficult topics, including race. Her e-mail did not include any direction to employees; it offered her reflections and an excerpt of one writer’s perspective of the week’s tragic events. I have verified that Director Treat did not violate any City policies. Mayor Hales applauds all of the bureau directors who sent messages of support and reflection to their employees after an extremely difficult week for our entire country. Director Treat’s message of collective energy and compassion echoes the mayor’s and other community leaders’ call to stand together as Portlanders and as humans; to understand that everyone has their own experiences; and to seek to understand and learn from those differences.”

Portland Police confirm Director Treat reported being threatened by someone on the phone after the email was sent out, but the nature of that threat has not been released.

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