It’s past midnight. Over the whump of the wipers and the screech of the fan belt, we lurch through the side streets of Southeast Portland in a battered white van, double-checking our toolkit: flashlight, binoculars, duct tape, scissors, watch caps, rawhide gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves, trash bags, 30-gallon can, tarpaulins, Sharpie, notebook–notebook?
Well, yes. Technically, this is a journalistic exercise–at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves. We’re upholding our sacred trust as representatives of the Fourth Estate. Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable.Pushing the reportorial envelope–by liberating the trash of Portland’s top brass.
We didn’t dream up this idea on our own. We got our inspiration from the Portland police.
Back in March, the police swiped the trash of fellow officer Gina Hoesly. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t ask for a search warrant. They just grabbed it. Their sordid haul, which included a bloody tampon, became the basis for drug charges against her (see “Gross Violation,” below).