People who live in smaller communities might think police violence and brutality are limited to the “Big City”. They read about Black people being murdered during traffic stops and erroneously believe it could never happen in their community because the cops in their cities and towns are neighbors, friends, families, etc.
But, in reality when cops leave or are removed from any police force (usually only for the most egregious transgression such as murder), they don’t stop being cops. Many went into the police academy straight out of the military and know no other way of life. Often they are racist bullies who don’t believe the laws they enforce apply to them. They aren’t suited for employment elsewhere.
So, they take a job as a cop in those smaller towns and cities. Because in most states they’re allowed to hide their personnel records – including any reports of or discipline resulting from beating, stalking, harassing, raping, and murdering people – the community they move into may have no knowledge of their criminal records.
In March 2004, Jason Sery, then a Portland Police Officer, shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old Black man after pulling him over for allegedly failing to correctly signal a turn. Less than four years later, Sery was hired by the Beaverton Police Department where he is now a training officer.
When he hired Sery, then Beaverton Police Chief David Bishop said: “We completed an extensive background investigation before Officer Sery was hired. Based on the background investigation, we determined Officer Sery had been cleared.”
Police are always cleared “of any wrongdoing”. Sery was “cleared” despite multiple inconsistencies in his story about the traffic stop that led up to the shooting, despite the fact that the victim was tortured after he was shot, and despite the fact that Sery and his partner put handcuffs on a man who no longer had a pulse and did not render medical aid.
One of the reasons the grand jury found “insufficient evidence to hold anyone criminally liable”, was the fact that Sery successfully sued the city of Portland to prevent a public inquest before the grand jury met so the grand jury didn’t have access to all of the incriminating evidence against him.
That’s how the system works. Police are never held accountable for any crimes, “from the smallest infraction to flagrant disregard for human life and safety“.
Jason Sery lives in Beaverton and is active in a Beaverton Church. He’s been named “Officer of the Year.” Beaverton City Councilors Cate Arnold, Laura Mitchell, and Mark Fagin have all expressed their support for Jason Sery and are defending his position on the Beaverton Police Department, despite community demands for his removal and the fact that the state of Oregon finds his position as a training officer problematic.
HB 4207, which directs the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to establish a public, statewide, online database of suspensions and revocations of certifications of police officers, was signed by the governor after 26 (of 30) members of the House of Representatives and 54 (of 60) Senators voted in favor of it.
HB 4207 specifically names Jason Sery as one of the reasons the bill is needed.
“Whereas Officer Jason Sery of the Portland Police Bureau shot and killed James Jahar Perez during a routine traffic stop over a missed turn signal; and
“Whereas Officer Sery resigned from the Portland Police Bureau and now works to train officers with the Beaverton Police Department; and
“Whereas abuses like this cause irreparable loss of public trust and confidence in the ability of law enforcement to be fair and unbiased …”
Even if you thought cops on smaller police force were “good guys”, that they’re your neighbors, friends, etc., remember it only takes one bad apple to spoil an entire barrel. And the fact that the BPD hired a murderer and put him in a position where he’s training other cops is one of the stated reason HB 4207 was passed by the Oregon Legislature.
Jason Sery is a murderer. His uniform/badge and his white skin protected him from prison. Now, he is training other Beaverton cops on how to get away with murder. Maybe not explicitly, but implicitly.
If Jason Sery is not removed from the BPD, the blood of his future victims (and there will be victims in the future, every cop you read about who has murdered a civilian and gotten away with it has other victims) will be on the hands of the Beaverton City Government. But it’s those victims, their families, and the other citizens of Beaverton who will pay the price.