PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell both issued statements Friday regarding an inappropriate PowerPoint slide that may have appeared as part of a Portland Police Bureau training session.

According to a release from the Mayor’s office, the slide was discovered while documents were being reviewed as part of a lawsuit filed against the city in connection with the 2020 protests. The specific slide was the last of the 110 slides used in the training session.

The picture on the slide depicts someone wearing body armor and a helmet, who appears to be a police officer, physically confronting a protester. The text on the slide contains profanity and refers to the protester as a “dirty hippy” while making reference to the “bat” and “pepper spray” used to injure the protester.

Questionable slide from PPB training presentation is under investigation
The slide, which appeared in Portland Police Bureau training material, is under Internal Affairs investigation (City of Portland)

“I am disgusted that this offensive content was added to a training presentation for our police officers,” Wheeler said in the statement. “As soon as I was made aware of the incident, I reached out to Chief Lovell, who shared my deep concern and assured me that a thorough and a complete investigation was underway.”

According to the ongoing investigation, it is unclear who added the slide or if it was actually ever presented as part of a training session. The statement went on to outline that the slide could have been created as early as 2018 and the incident has been under investigation by PPB Internal Affairs since it was discovered.

“The message on the training presentation slide was contrary to PPB’s values and what we are trying to achieve as an organization,” Chief Lovell said in his statement. “Upon learning of its existence, I ordered an Internal Affairs investigation.

“I want to make it clear that the content of this message is not representative of the Portland Police Bureau and it is disappointing to all of us who work so hard to earn the community’s trust.”

At the end of his statement, Mayor Wheeler issued a further condemnation of both the slide and the attitude it portrayed: “I believe that the hard-working members of the Portland Police Bureau who are seeing this for the first time are also angered and disgusted by the image and words on this slide and how it portrays members of our community and law enforcement.”

The reveal of the PowerPoint slide image came after the 2020 racial injustice protests. A report in September 2021 presented by the Citizen Review Committee’s Crowd Control and Use of Force workgroup largely blamed the Portland Police Bureau for violence at the protests, according to Nexstar’s KOIN media partner, The Portland Tribune.

KOIN reached out to the Portland Police Association for an interview, but a spokesperson declined. However, PPA president Sgt. Aaron Schmautz released a statement.

“I have been made aware of the inappropriate slide that was found at the end of a 2018 training PowerPoint presentation,” said Sgt. Schmautz. “The content of the slide does not reflect the values of our hard working and devoted members, or our values as police union. I support the full, fair, and transparent investigation that began in September. We will have no further comment until the investigation is complete and all relevant context and surrounding facts have been discovered.”

Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps released a statement on the training document, claiming it was part of the training for PPB’s Rapid Response Team, which responded to many of the 2020 protests and voted en masse to resign from the team in June 2021.

“This team was disbanded, and we are reforming our approach to protests and rioting. The most unfortunate aspect of this is that it takes the attention away from the good work the Portland Police Bureau is doing to address gun violence and increase public safety in Portland,” he said.

Commissioner Carmen Rubio, too, released a statement, calling the image on the slide “disturbing.”

“Portlanders and the Department of Justice have asked us to transform our public safety system, and this is why. This disturbing image was not just the work of a single individual: it’s also the passive acceptance of those who do nothing,” Commissioner Rubio said. “This flies in the face of the hopeful progress that is happening now to change our system. Authentic transformation must have the commitment of our entire community — but especially elected leaders and law enforcement leadership — to accept responsibility where we need to and build a community safety system that, unlike this photo, will make us proud.”

KOIN spoke to the attorney for Don’t Shoot Portland, Ashlee Albies, who said her team found the training slide during the “discovery process” in a civil suit. She says it points to a larger problem.  

“I think I was somewhat surprised it was given in the course of a training, so blatant,” Albies said.

“For many years, protesters have said and recognized that left-wing protesters and Black Lives Matter protesters and people protesting against white supremacy have been treated worse by the city in the course of expressive activity than organizations like the Proud Boys,” she added.

Don’t Shoot Portland founder Teressa Raiford told KOIN she was “disgusted” at the finding.  

“Hopefully, there will be sanctions against violence until we figure out what their intent is when they are using violence against people who show up for [Black Lives Matter] and all the leftist groups,” Raiford said.

Raiford believes the revelation is an example of why her group’s civil suit should move forward.

“Now it’s going to be something that people are discussing and hopefully people will be held accountable — that doesn’t mean it’s going to cease to exist,” she said.

“We are really seeking to hold the city accountable to standards about when they can use force and when they can’t,” Albies explained.

KOIN also spoke to attorney Akin Blitz for a different take. He was once a police officer and has represented police agencies, helping in areas of policy, police labor relations and other issues like discipline. 

Blitz doesn’t believe the message was “to beat up protesters.” Rather, he said he thinks it was “likely” that the person presenting the training presentation was trying to “inject a little black cop humor in a town where officers are frustrated and the police bureau doesn’t get a lot of support … to end the training with a little bit of levity.”