I attended the annual Portland Police Bureau Awards ceremony at David Douglas High School today, 1/20/11. Happily, so did reporters from The Oregonian, who covered some of the awards here. I appreciate journalists Michael Russell and Maxine Bernstein, who sometimes cover public employees in a less favorable light, taking the time to attend the event and report on it.
I was particularly impressed with awards given to police officers who were attacked with a meat cleaver which struck between the officer's belt and body, yet the assailant was taken into custody without use of force. And the incident where a citizen had murdered his partner with a butcher knife and came at the officers with the same bloody weapon, yet they used a tazer instead of guns in the face of grave personal danger, to bring successful closure in that traumatic situation. And the story of a civilian and two officers who held on to a woman dangling from a 17 story building, saving her from committing suicide. I figure over the course of my 22 years working in inpatient psychiatry at OHSU, I probably met 10,000 people whose lives had been saved by Portland Police preventing them from damaging themselves or others. We don't hear about those folks, when we see the headlines about the few mentally ill people whose stories end in tragedy for both the sufferer and the police officers involved.
Less dramatic than the life-saver reports, perhaps, but reaching more people with longer lasting effects, the awards honored the service of the GirlStrength program, which I hear is proposed to be funded as part of the ongoing Police Bureau budget. This program teaches girls in Middle Schools and High Schools how to avoid and protect themselves in situations where they are in physical danger. Like the WomenStrength program, it's awesome. If you're female and live in Portland, you will benefit from taking the WomenStrength program of three 3-hour classes. My daughter and I took them together, and we both found the course highly worthwhile. The classes are not free - they are taxpayer funded, so no additional cost to the participants. And well worth the investment of taxpayer dollars for the basic service of safety preparedness for women in Portland.
I am very glad the Police Bureau recognizes its heroes, both men and women. By the way, do you know that in Greek mythology, Hero was a woman? How come the guys stole our word and made the women be "heroines"?