The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, July 16, 2009, Page Page 3, Image 3

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    The INDEPENDENT, July 16, 2009
Where to Find Them
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Suite 585
Portland OR 97232
Phone: 503-326-7525
223 Dirksen Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510-0001
Phone: 202-224-5244
Website: http://wyden.senate.
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon St., Suite 1250
Portland, OR 97204
Phone: 503-326-3386
107 Russell Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3753
E-Mail: senator@merkley.sen
ate. gov
WebSite: http://merkley.senate.
U.S. Representative David Wu
(Dem) OR District 1
620 SW Main, Suite 606
Portland, OR 97205
Phone: 503-326-2901
2338 Rayburn House Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-0855
Senator Betsy Johnson
(Dem) Senate District 16
PO Box R,
Scappoose, OR 97056
Phone: 503-543-4046
900 Court St. NE, S-314
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1716
E-mail: sen.betsyjohnson@
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Representative Brad Witt
(Dem) House District. 31
21740 Lindberg Road,
Clatskanie, OR 97016
Phone: 503-728-4664
900 Court St. NE, H-373
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1431
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Representative Deborah
(Dem) House District 32
PO Box 926
Cannon Beach, OR 97110
Phone: 503-717-9182
900 Court St. NE, H-375
Salem, OR 97301
Phone: 503-986-1432
E-mail: rep.deborahboone@
Website: http//www.leg.state.or.
Page 3
The City position on
opinions re: VPD, etc.
To the Editor:
There have been a couple of
letters in The Independent re-
cently from Mr. Ed Johnson
commenting on the Vernonia
Police Department and it’s han-
dling of an incident involving 19
year old Elliot Graf. Mr. John-
son is Mr. Graf’s father.
My purpose is to provide
some facts and comments re-
lated to Mr. Johnson’s letters.
The facts are this. The police
responded to a call for service
related to a loud party. When
they arrived at the party-house
they found 13 people, of which
only one was over 21. There
was a considerable amount of
liquor in the house and the
strong smell of burning marijua-
na. Police decided to arrest a
number of people in the house.
Mr. Graf was one of the indi-
viduals who was the subject of
an arrest. Mr. Graf decided to
fight with the officers who were
trying to arrest him. In these sit-
uations, the police are asked to
use only enough force neces-
sary to control the subject.
There are a number of choices
for an officer when force must
be used. Of the choices, de-
ploying a “dry stun” Taser is ac-
tually LESS dangerous to the
subject than is the use of the
officer’s fist or use of other
body strikes.
Mr. Johnson fails to mention
in all of his comments about
Taser use that a “dry stun” was
used against his son. A dry stun
involves placing the Taser di-
rectly against the skin and
pulling the trigger which deliv-
ers an electrical charge. The
other choice is to fire the Taser
from some distance away. The
Taser delivers an electrical
charge via electrodes attached
to long wires fired from the gun.
There is a barb at the end of
the wire that penetrates the
skin and then the electrical
charge occurs. A dry stun is
much less invasive and much
less painful than the use of a
barbed stun. In fact, during the
fight, Mr. Graf was attempting
to knee-kick the officers, which
is a higher use of force than is
a dry stun Taser.
There are many reasons
why an officer may employ a
Taser. In our incident, there
was a loaded .410 shotgun in
the living room of the house not
far from where the fight oc-
curred. There were also sever-
al knives around. Mr. Graf has
a previous arrest for assault
and disorderly conduct, which
was known to the officers. Mr.
Graf had previous contact with
the police while under the influ-
ence of prescription and poten-
tial illegal street drugs, that re-
sulted in his being transported
by ambulance. The officers
were attempting to get Mr. Graf
handcuffed and safely put him
in the back of a patrol car. A dry
stun from a Taser was used to
gain compliance. EMT’s were
at the scene and observed Mr.
Two outside agencies re-
viewed the use of force against
Mr. Graf. In both cases, the
agencies felt that a HIGHER
level of force was justified by
the officers, given the circum-
stances of the incident.
Mr. Johnson has comment-
ed that the review of the inci-
dent by outside agencies was
unfair because Interim Chief
Mike Kay has a friendship with
both individuals who were in-
volved in the review. It is true
that Interim Chief Kay and
Howard Webb know each oth-
er. They are both instructors for
the American Council on Crimi-
nal Justice Training. Mr. Webb
is a colleague of many police
officers throughout the State of
Salem Scene
By Representative Brad Witt
Oregon District 31
As you no doubt have
been hearing and reading,
the two bills that fund K-12
Education in this state
were vetoed by the Gover-
nor. The Senate, after one
false start, mustered the
two-thirds majority need-
ed to override the veto,
however, the House fell
short by four votes, then it not only mustered the
votes needed, but passed the bills by a 53-6
HB 5554 and HB 5520 fund education at a $6
billion level, with $200 million held in reserve.
The Governor wanted to retain a $400 million
reserve because he is concerned that Oregon
has not seen the bottom of this recession yet
and he wanted a buffer to take us into the 2010-
11 school year. However, even the $200 million
figure is causing school districts heartburn, as
they project budgets with fewer teachers, in-
creased class sizes and fewer programs. It’s im-
portant to remember that we allocated $6.245
million last session for the 07-09 biennium. So,
in effect, the Governor’s veto would have asked
school districts to make do with $445 million
less for the next two-year cycle. An overwhelm-
ing majority of the Legislature just could not go
along with that.
Another bill that has had a bumpy ride is HB
3508, which delays the implementation of Ballot
Measure 57 until January 1, 2010, and makes a
number of sentencing changes that will reduce
the need for prison beds and community correc-
tions caseloads. Delaying implementation of a
ballot measure that passed with over 60% of the
vote would never have been the first choice of
anyone here, but because the economy shows
no sign of a quick recovery, we could not in
good conscience cut more than $30 million from
the Dept. of Corrections, the State Police, the
Oregon Youth Authority and the Court system.
The bill failed on the first attempt, then passed
the House with the required two-thirds majority
and it will phase in the implementation of BM 57
much to the relief of our law enforcement com-
In these last few days of the session, we have
passed a number of bills that effect changes that
I think you should know about. Following is a
thumbnail description of these bills:
• HB 2571 Grants all U.S. veterans, honorably
discharged, in-state tuition at Oregon’s public
universities and colleges. Veterans who have
served at least 36 months on active duty will
have their costs covered by the new federal
Post-911 GI Bill. Currently, only 5800 Oregon
Vets are receiving educational benefits, only a
See Salem Scene, page 22
Oregon. This does not at all get
in the way of an impartial re-
view of a use of force incident.
The City-County Insurance Ser-
vices routinely involves Mr.
Webb whenever a claim is filed
over a police use of force event.
He is recognized state-wide as
an expert in such matters.
The District Attorney’s office
at Columbia County is respon-
sible for prosecuting Mr. Graf
for his alleged crimes. If the DA
thought there was any miscon-
duct by the Vernonia police in-
volved in the incident, there
would be no prosecution. The
DA is moving forward with the
Mr. Johnson also has written
about the “very close relation-
ship” between Councilor Cindy
Ball, Councilor Kevin Hudson,
and Jim Johnson, the city’s for-
mer interim city administrator.
Cindy, Kevin, and Jim have
worked together for the past
year, but they don’t have the
sort of relationship inferred by
the writer.
Finally, Mr. Johnson writes of
possible “ulterior motives” that
may result from Councilor
Ball’s daughters volunteering
with the Vernonia Police De-
partment. One of Councilor’s
Ball’s daughters has helped
build the police department’s
new website. Councilor Ball’s
other daughter is involved with
the police as a CERT volunteer,
but has not volunteered within
the police department office.
I’m not sure why all of that mat-
ters, but I thought the facts may
be helpful to people.
As the new City Administra-
tor, I have been encouraged by
many local citizens who have
spoken to me of their support
for our police department. I
want the community to know
that I have instructed Interim
Chief Kay, and his officers to
carry, and use when necessary,
whatever force is appropriate
for their own safety, and safety
See Letters, page 14
Policy on Letters
not publish letters that in-
clude personal attacks on
private citizens. Because of
space limitations, preference
will be given to brief letters,
300 words or less.
All letters must be signed
and include a verifiable ad-
dress or phone number.