Sacto 9-1-1
October 31, 2011
Controversial T-shirts puts Twin Rivers Police Department in the spotlight again

By Melody Gutierrez, Kim Minugh and Sam Stanton
mgutierrez@sacbee.com

bp police t-shirt.jpgT-shirts sold by the Twin Rivers Police Officers Association have this message: "U raise 'em, we cage 'em," surrounding a picture of a young child behind bars.

On Monday, community leaders and child advocates said the T-shirts are highly offensive and could validate feelings of mistrust for the Twin Rivers' school police force. The agency has been under intense scrutiny over complaints it has overstepped its authority.

"There is nowhere on the planet where it is OK to wear a shirt like this," said Ed Howard, senior counsel for the University of San Diego's Children's Advocacy Institute, after seeing the image of the shirt.

The quote and picture is on the back of the shirt. The Twin Rivers Police Officers Association logo is on the front.

Twin Rivers police union President Arlin Kocher, an officer in the department, said the union came up with the shirts in 2009 to raise funds for the families of fallen officers. Fewer than 30 shirts were ordered; most were sold for $12 to Twin Rivers union members, Kocher said.

He now calls the shirts a mistake.

"I don't think this will be received well by the public, which is why we stopped selling them," Kocher said. "Our chief came to us (about a year ago) when he found out that we were selling them. He asked us to take it off the union website. Our union, especially me, take full responsibility."

Kocher posted the T-shirt graphic on his personal Facebook page in 2009, saying he helped design the shirt, and as recently as July they were still on sale there. He changed his Facebook privacy settings Monday after The Bee contacted Twin Rivers Police Department about the shirts. Later Monday, the police union made a formal apology on its website.

"I am deeply disappointed that any of our employees would produce anything like that, even in their off time," said Twin Rivers Unified Superintendent Frank Porter, who oversees the police department.

Porter said he had not seen the shirts, but had them described to him Monday. He said he has a meeting scheduled for today with district Police Chief Christopher Breck.

Porter said he would confer with Breck and human resources about whether there would be any disciplinary action taken. "It's regrettable that this occurred," Porter said.

Twin Rivers Police Department has been increasingly scrutinized since one of its officers was shot four times Oct. 22. Hours later, the suspected shooter died in Sacramento City Police custody.

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