On August 2nd 2012, I was walking down Morrison st (near 3rd Ave, Portland, Oregon) and I came across a situation of two street kids being confronted by private security guards. The guards, one a young black guy, the other an old white guy, were interacting with these two young white street kids. What caused me concern is when I heard the older security guard shout, “You are stupid!” to the homeless youth.
I recorded a video from that moment on. This was at approximately 1pm.
I was pretty upset that this security guard would not talk to me at all, he wouldn’t provide any indication, identification, or certification, saying that he was lawfully carrying a firearm, nor would he even help me enunciate his name, it was only the actual police officer, Office Ben Labasan (#39828) who help me. Office Labasan was concise, cool, and provided a respectable level of professionalism throughout our interaction. In contrast, the security guard was non-cooperative, antagonistic, and elitist.
It’s important to note a couple things. The security guard and the police officer claimed that a Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (“DPSST”) license allowed him to carry a loaded firearm, this is false. Also: the security guard admitted that he did not have a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). To obtain a CHL in Oregon is nothing more than a one-night class and some paperwork filed with the county Sherriff, it’s very easy to get one in most counties in Oregon. I have a CHL from Washington County.
Also note: it was my intention to be objective, distant, and not involved in the situation, which is what I was doing until the security guard took a picture of me. I was shocked – but truth be told, this was not the first time a Portland Patrol Inc security guard took a photo of me as an act of retaliation against me for taking photos of them. This whole situation could have been avoided if the guard did not take a photo of me. It also could have been avoided if the guard didn’t incite those kids, it was the guard speaking loudly and making a scene that prompted me to stop and record. Unfortunately for the readers and viewers, the true demeanor of this guard, when he thinks no one is watching, is not shown on this video. His attitude changed when he saw me recording him, which is exactly why people need to record interactions like this.
Standing next to me after I recorded the video was over was a bystander, who I interviewed as well.
The security guards had walked away, and my phone’s batteries were nearly dead, so I went back to my office. I followed the police officer’s advice, first I looked up the law in the question, “14A.60.010 Possession of a Loaded Firearm in a Public Place” (here: http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?a=332592&c=28514 ), and in preparation for if the security guard being still disinterested in complying, I also looked up 2011 Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) Vol. 4 Chapter 133, subsection 225, “Arrest by a private person” (here: http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/133.225 ).
After reading the law, I came to believe that there is a chance – in fact a very good chance – that the security guard was not complying with the law and was in fact carrying the firearm illegally. This concern was compounded by Google searches on the guard’s employers, a company called Portland Patrol Inc, and if they have legal grounds to carry a firearm. Well, as it turns out, by reporting via the Portland Mercury (here: http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/trust-me-im-a-rent-a-cop/Content?oid=315932 ) and Street Roots (here: http://streetroots.wordpress.com/tag/portland-patrol-inc/ ) and other independent information, Portland Patrol Inc does not have a right to carry a weapon by the virtue of having a DPSST certified-guard.
Here’s a quick lesson in Oregon and Portland Law: the State of Oregon allows a citizen to carry a loaded firearm in a public space, this is called “Open Carry” and is allowed by the Oregon Constitution Section 27 (this is Oregon’s version of the Second Amendment), and is further regulated by ORS 166.250, which makes it illegal to carry a gun concealed. ORS 166.250 specifically mentions that “Firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed.” The city of Portland has lawfully created extra restrictions regarding the open carry of loaded firearms via Portland Public Order 14A.60.010, which provides 14 ways in which a citizen may carry a loaded weapon in public. Of the 14 reasons, the first is a Police Officer, the second is the Military, and the third is “A person licensed to carry a concealed handgun.”
The Portland Public Order 14A.60.010 does not exempt citizens with a DPSST license, it makes no mention of a DPSST license at all, so it seems by the law, the only way a private citizen can open carry a loaded weapon in Portland Oregon is via a Concealed Handgun License. DPSST provides safety trainings for peace officers, security guards, private investigators, 9-1-1 communications workers, and other citizens working in security roles. DPSST offers a variety of armed and unarmed certifications for Oregonians working in Law Enforcement to crowd control and much more. I have reached out to two authorities on this Portland law as it relates to a DPSST certification: the Office of the City Attorney, and the Office of the City Auditor. As of writing this, the Deputy City Auditor responded to my email, which you can read in my posts below. When the City Attorney gets back to me, I’ll post that information as well.
OK – back to August 2nd:
After I printed a copy of Public Order 14A.60.010, I went to the Portland Patrol Inc headquarters in Old Town. There, a young woman receptionist, wearing a company uniform, answered my questions and took very simple notes. I first explained that I wanted to register a complaint, she explained that the supervisor was out of the office, and she kindly gave me a business card that included contact information for filing complaints. I thanked her and went about my day.
Later, near 4pm, I came across the security guard as he walked up Alder St near 4th Ave. I stood across Alder St as the security guard interviewed a person. I followed the security guard and confronted him at the corner of 5th and Washington, near the hotel entrance.
He remembered me, and I handed him my document. I said, “I printed off the regulations regarding open carry in Portland, via Portland city code.” He took my document, which was folded for my back pocket, he then unfolded it partially, said “thank you” and began refolding the document. He clearly had no intention of reading the ordinance I provided.
I insisted, “Sir, I want you to explain to me how you have the legal right to carry a firearm in the city of Portland.” I also warned him that he could be placed under citizen’s arrest. The security guard unfolded the document and began reading, as I stood silent. He pointed at one item, 14A.60.010.C.14, and said “Well, that’s close.” This clause explains, “A security guard employed at a financial institution” that is FDIC insured – this means a Bank Guard, not private security on patrol.
I then explained, “Sir, I need you to provide me any identification or authorization, any at all, that says you are legally allowed to carry a firearm in this city.” He said he did not have any identification, but that he was certified by DPSST. I said, “Sir, do you have any evidence on you that you have a DPSST certification?”
He replied, “I do not have to show you that.”
“Sir,” I explained, “I will place you under citizen’s arrest, as authorized by the Oregon Revised Statute, as printed on the back side of that paper, if you do not comply with my request.” He stood silent, clearly unwilling to provide any material to act as evidence that he was allowed to carry a weapon in compliance with the law.
I explained, “Sir, if you have any evidence that you have a DPSST certification, I will accept it as evidence, even though, clearly, that is not listed in the Public Order as an acceptable exemption.” He then said, “I do not need to show you.”
At that point I said, “Sir, since you are unwilling to provide me any evidence that you are not in violation of this law, I believe that you are not complying with city law, and I am placing you under citizen’s arrest, as described in Chapter one-thirty-three sub-section two-two-five of the Oregon Revised Statute. My next step must be to escort you to a magistrate or peace officer.”
The security guard chuckled, then said, “OK, let’s do that. Are you going to call 9-1-1?” I explained that I had the non-emergency Portland Police number from the business card of Officer Labasan, and, “…if that would be OK to call the non-emergency line?” He agreed and said, “OK, I will call it in as well for police backup.” The security guard then proceeded to use his radio, and referred to me on the radio as “the same guy from earlier”, he also mentioned to the other security guard that he would call for a supervisor.
I spoke with two people at the non-emergency Portland Police number, the first lady *FREAKED OUT HARD* that I had placed someone under citizen’s arrest, she yelled “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO ARREST PEOPLE! OH MY GOD!”. I then said, “Ma’am, I do have a right under Oregon…” at which point I was cut off and was told I would be speaking to a supervisor. The next lady I spoke to was nonchalant and professional.
As we were waiting for police, the security guard began to describe in personal details that he is an “anti-war veteran” and “liberal”. He also asked me about my military background, of which I provided modest detail, and branch of service. Because I have publically spoken out about politics, and with my background of advocating for veterans, I believed he was using information he attained about me in order to establish a rapport. I did not see the relevancy to this information at the time. The security guard also threatened me by saying, “I’m going to sue you for wrongful detainment.” I countered him be reiterating my reasons for his arrest. When I again explained that he failed to provide even a business card with his name, he then pulled a business card out of his breast pocket, a pen from his pants pocket, and wrote his name on the back of a card.
The man who I arrested is named J.T. Picinisco.
(I assume “Ofc” stands for “Official Fucking Citizen”, as I was later explained that this Mr. Picinisco was not an “Officer”)
Not long after I was given his business card he said, “I do have a DPSST license, you want to see it, there!” he then pulled his wallet out of his back left pocket and showed me an item resembling a DPSST license. I did not inspect the license up close, but I observed a black and white card with a number written at the bottom of card. Based upon my memory of friends who are also DPSST certified, this vaguely resembled the card, and I accepted it to be so.
I exclaimed, “You have a DPSST license and you’ll show me now!? Why didn’t you show me that before I arrested you!? I clearly explained that I would accept this as evidence, even though it’s not in the city code! Why did you hide this from me?” The security guard had no answer, and so we waited around silently.
Several minutes later, a uniformed Portland Police Officer, Officer D. Harris (#47653), approached on a bike. He was very polite, frank, and agreeable during the entire exchange. Immediately I said, “Hello officer, I have placed this man under citizen’s arrest, and I need to turn him over to you.” The officer asked me to explain the situation. I gave the police officer a copy of the city code, and explained that I believed that this security guard was not legally allowed to carry a firearm. The officer said, “Yes, he is allowed to carry a firearm.” I replied, “But this man refused to provide me any evidence, and I see no reason to believe he is allowed to under this public order, and he is unable to cite how he is in compliance with this law. Can you cite for me where in the law how he is allowed to do this?” The officer slowly reviewed the ordinance I printed and then said “No.” He then followed up by explaining that this man has the right to do so with a DPSST certification. I asked the officer to review the ordinance, again, and explain to me how a DPSST certification exempts this security guard from the city ordinance. The officer did not do so, and instead asked the security guard, “You do have a DPSST certification, right?” The security guarded nodded his head in affirmation.
At this point, I noticed that another police officer on bike had arrived, Office Labasan, and another man who was wearing a similar uniform as the security guard, but was much older, and appeared to have Lieutenant bars on his collar. I learned that this man was the “supervisor”.
Officer Harris explained, “Ok, this guy [the security guard], is going to go away now, is that OK with you?” I replied, “Under the law regarding citizen’s arrest, that is completely fine with me, I have turned over custody to you.” I did not see where the security guard went, as I was speaking with the police officer.
I was asked to explain in greater detail everything that was happening. I explained my interaction with the police officer at 1pm, and that he insulted some street kids, he took a photo of me recording, he refused to offer his name, and he refused to enunciate his name, all while carrying a pistol on his hip. The security guard supervisor at times interjected while I was explaining the situation. He asked if my recording had audio, to which I explained “Yes, of course it has audio, it is a video recording – but if you are trying to insinuate that I violated wiretapping laws by recording audio of this interaction, I would be happy to get the ACLU involved.” The supervisors demeanor bordered on hostility as he said multiple times that I was “on the edge.” I was also threatened with a possible law suit for wrongful arrest, in addition to a law suit for wiretapping. I explained to the two police officers and the security guard supervisor that this whole event never would have happened if the security guard had not insulted those kids, had not taken a picture of me, and if he had only cooperated with me by providing his name, and that further, it was his noncooperation that instigated me. I explained to the supervisor that I found the conduct of his subordinate unacceptable, and that I have higher standards for people masquerading as police officers. The security guard supervisor explained that they are not police officers.
The supervisor explained that the security guard had a right to take a photo of me. I agreed, saying that “he has the same right, as a citizen”, but that the security guard took a photo as retaliation for me recording the interaction, and I thought that was inappropriate. I explained that I have an imperative to record events of police interactions, and that this guard is dressed like a police officer and he carries a gun, further that he has no business to record me unless it relates to law enforcement, and I would expect any photo taken of me to be used for law enforcement purposes. The supervisor explained that the security guard was only a citizen, and that he has the same rights as me.
The supervisor and I entered into a discussion regarding the rights of Portland Patrol security guards, specifically if they have rights elevated above that of regular citizens. The supervisor claimed that his security guards did not need to offer up any evidence that they were within legal bounds to carry a firearm, I disagreed by stating that if I were open carrying a firearm, I would be bound to provide evidence that I was not violating the law. The security guard supervisor said that I did not need to, to which I said, “So, if I were open carrying an AR-15 on my back outside of your office on first avenue, I would not have to provide you, or anyone else, any evidence that what I was doing was legal?” The security guard supervisor said “No.” I pushed the point by saying, “I can have an open carry rally outside your office next week, and not provide you, or any of your security guards evidence that I am complying with law?” He said, “You can do that.” I replied, “Thank you for the invitation, I will make some phone calls and be down there next week.”
The Officer Harris explained that he was unsure what agency I was with, and he was unsure what point I was trying to make, and he offered me the advice that doing an open carry rally downtown with an AR-15 would not be a good thing to do. I asked the Officer Harris and Labasan if they had any additional questions, and if I were being detained. Office Harris said, “No.” I thanked him, and then asked the security guard supervisor if he had any additional questions, he did not. I then began to walk away, then the police officer asked me for a business card, which I provided him, and he gave me his.
This concluded my interaction.
I discussed the situation with my friends and we looked at our availability. I decided to do an Open Carry rally with a close friend of mine who is also a rather patriotic person, and who is both knowledgeable about firearms and has performed open carry rallies in the past. I hope to have pictures and video of the rally posted on this blog after the event.