No parole for Porter: Ore. cop killer's release is rescinded

Sidney Dean Porter — who viciously murdered Officer Frank Ward of the John Day (Ore.) Police Department — will not be set free this Friday as was originally planned


Thanks in part to the tremendous efforts of PoliceOne Members, the parole of Sidney Dean Porter — who viciously murdered Officer Frank Ward of the John Day (Ore.) Police Department on April 8, 1992 — has been rescinded. 

I first learned of the impending release of Porter less than a week ago, and wrote a column giving PoliceOne Members the opportunity to send emails to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as well as the members of the Oregon House Judiciary Committee.

Eric Bunday, a Sergeant with the Hillsboro (Ore.) Police Department and a vice president for the Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation (and one of the people behind this effort to prevent parole for Sidney Porter), furnished us with a few versions of a template letter to use as a basis for your own personally-worded emails.

Widespread Outrage
Alerted to the widespread outrage over the decision to release Porter, Governor Kitzhaber signed a letter urging the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision to reconsider the question of this cop killer’s fitness for freedom. 

“The nature and circumstances of the offense he committed, detailed in police and medical examiner reports, were not made available to you and could inform the board about whether or not Mr. Porter has demonstrated the appropriate level of responsibility for his crime,” Governor Kitzhaber wrote.

Furthermore, State Representative Sherrie Springer joined all nine members of the Judiciary Committee in signing a letter to the parole board strenuously urging that the planned parole of Porter be cancelled and further reviewed. 

The Judiciary Committee’s letter stated that a variety of circumstances “provide ample grounds for the board to reopen the matter of Sidney Dean Porter’s parole, and further warrant the board determining that Sidney Dean Porter is not an appropriate candidate for release.”

Those circumstances include the fact that Pastor Ron Schafer, the Minister who had agreed to provide post-release spiritual guidance to Porter, has formally withdrawn that offer.

The Judiciary Committee also pointed to the fact that the parole board failed to notify Oregon police officers of the parole hearing. Those officers — many of whom were active at the time of the crime — could have (and would have) provided testimony about Officer Frank Ward’s murder that would contradict Porter’s version of events. 

The board also neglected to review the autopsy report, which demonstrated the severity and brutality of Officer Ward’s fatal injuries. 

The Judiciary Committee’s letter concluded, “We find the parole of Sidney Dean Porter to be inconsistent with the public safety goals of the board and a threat to the safety of the people of Oregon that justifies an immediate, additional parole hearing in this case.”

Wow. I don’t often commend elected officials, but that is a statesmanlike piece of writing. 

A Battle Waged and Won
In the past week, I’ve become acquainted with a number of law enforcers from Oregon who have been leading the effort to keep Porter behind bars. One, of course, is the abovementioned Sergeant Eric Bunday, with whom I spoke via phone last night. 

Another is Chief Brian Harvey of the La Grande (Ore.) Police Department. 

Chief Harvey was one of more than 40 members of the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police who participated in last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing about the release decision. 

During his testimony to the Judiciary Committee, Chief Harvey testified that the Parole Board refused to respond to La Grande PD’s public records requests for Porter’s psychological tests. 

Those requests were made as part of a threat assessment on Porter for the protection of Ben Ward, a registered victim in this case and Officer Frank Ward’s brother. 

Ben Ward, you see, lives in Chief Harvey’s jurisdiction. 

Chief Harvey also told the Judiciary Committee that during the parole board hearing it was disclosed that Porter’s psychological evaluation showed him to be a serious risk of reoffending violently.

Chief Harvey stated further that during the parole board’s hearing, when the cop killer was questioned about the evaluation that he is a “moderate to high risk for future violent behavior” Porter replied, “Sure the signs are there. I can’t deny ‘em…”

The parole board wanted to let this killer loose to prey on the citizens of Oregon? That’s borderline criminal in and of itself. 

The abovementioned Pastor Schafer has — according to Chief Harvey’s testimony last week — even said that he thinks Porter should not be released.

You know it’s bad when a Pastor wants to keep someone in jail.  

“I have information that the neighbors of the location Porter is being released to are opposed to him being released and residing in the area,” Chief Harvey told me. “It also appears they had no prior knowledge of the hearing.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jeff Barker said in one news report that he is grateful that the board has agreed to revisit its decision on Porter.

“It seemed like it was going to be such a travesty to let him out,” Barker reportedly said. “It was a vicious, brutal murder.”

It’s Not Over Yet
Chief Harvey was correct when he told me today, “The battle will resume in September, and I will call upon all our fellow warriors for backup again then!”

I don’t know specifically when that hearing will take place, but rest assured that I will advise you when that information becomes available. 

Stay safe out there my friends.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 800 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

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