After rookie Portland Officer Lindsay Hunt reported alleged misconduct by her field training officer, Hunt says supervisors and other training officers told her to look the other way until after she completed probation.
She faced threats of being fired and not getting backup from fellow officers, her lawyer Dennis Steinman told jurors on the opening day of her federal whistleblower suit against the City of Portland.
“A good cop reported what a bad cop did,” Steinman said. “This case is about a dedicated new police officer. Instead of thanking her and doing something about the bad cop, they told her to keep her mouth shut.”
But Deputy City Attorney Jenifer Johnston painted a starkly different account. She said training officers and supervisors will testify over the next week and a half that they urged Hunt to remain on the job, told her she did the right thing and investigated her complaints. Instead, Hunt resigned in June 2007, giving up her dream career just four days after raising her concerns.
Officer Quency Ho was decertified as a field training officer in March 2008. He received a written reprimand in June 2008, a month after Hunt’s lawsuit was filed.
Johnston said that was because the precinct commander at the time, Bret Smith, did such a thorough investigation into Hunt’s complaints.
Hunt accused Ho of repeatedly taking goods without paying for them from a Northeast Portland convenience store; pulling a gun on an unarmed suspect and barging into an apartment without probable cause; telling a citizen to get rid of a knife used in a crime and urging Hunt to alter her police report on the matter.
When Hunt told Ho she wouldn’t take anything from the 7-11 Store off Northeast Weidler, he replied, “Come on, we’re the effing police. Nobody cares. It’s fine,” Steinmen told jurors.
Hunt, 29, now a Farmers Insurance property claims adjuster, took the stand late Monday. She told jurors she’s a Gresham native, an A student and graduate of Centennial High School who studied criminal justice and pre-law at Pace University in New York. Police interactions with her younger sister – who is diagnosed with a mental illness — was a catalyst for her to want to become an officer, Hunt testified.
“I think the interactions could have been better,” Hunt said. “For me, it seemed like the perfect fulfilling career to better develop relationships with the mentally ill.”
After working as a private security trainer at Intel, she was hired by Portland police July 24, 2006. She said she was “ecstatic” when she got the job. After collecting her police gear her first day, she told of how Portland police training coordinator Joe Schilling sat down with her and warned her and another new hire about the risks of drawing attention to themselves with his infamous “I have a job” lecture.
“Joe Schilling has a job,” he began, she testified. “Lindsay Hunt doesn’t have a job. Joe Schilling goes home at the end of the day. Don’t stand on a table and raise a flag. If no one knows who you are at the end of 18 months, that’s a good thing.”
At first, Hunt thought that Schilling was “raining on my parade.” She said she figured it was intended to make her take the job seriously, but it made her feel “very unsupported.”
After time, she said she realized its true meaning: “They didn’t want to hear from me.”
The city argued that the Schilling lecture was intended to impress on recruits that they must bring their “A game” to their job during their 18 months on probation.
Hunt won praise from other training coordinators and her first field training officer. Officer Leslie Pintarich described her as professional and courteous, a proven “asset” to the police bureau; Officer William Hubner wrote that she answered a verbal quiz on bureau directives “100 percent.”
But once she reported the alleged misconduct by Ho on May 29, 2007, she said she was pressured by other training officers to stay mum. Hubner, according to Hunt’s lawyer, arranged to meet her at a Starbucks and told Hunt, “You’re a coward.” He said she had started a “rebellion in Northeast” because officers were no longer permitted to take free goods. Hunt told him she was worried she wouldn’t get backup on the street.
“You are exactly what the bureau needs but you have to be quiet,” Hubner told her, according to Steinman.
Hunt sobbed in her car outside the coffee shop. “Now she understood what it mean to raise a flag,” Steinman said.
Hunt was transferred to Central Precinct, but on her first day of her assignment there, she told Schilling she didn’t feel safe. “I can’t do it. I don’t think I can do this.” Schilling shrugged, and told her to turn in her gear, Steinman said. She signed her resignation papers June 4.
In the July 2007 Rap Sheet, an officer writing under a pseudonym discussed Hunt’s case without citing her name, and suggested a new officer try “keeping your mouth shut.” Steinman said officers will testify that the new slang term for reporting misconduct against a fellow officer became “pulling a Lindsay.”