PDX’s COCL & COAB police reform effort runs out of gas

We consider this stall a failure on the part of all parties to the settlement of US DOJ v. City of Portland to understand, consider or care about the needs of people with mental illness who are harmed by police.

60-Day COAB Recess and Cancellation of August Executive Committee Meeting

This note was distributed by the COCL on August 23, 2016.

The City and DOJ have come to an agreement on a 60-day COAB recess. During this period, the City will seek community stakeholder input in evaluating the community engagement and oversight provisions of the Settlement Agreement and propose and discuss amendments with the DOJ team with an eye toward strengthening the community engagement process.

During this period, there will be no full COAB, Executive or subcommittee meetings. Additionally, the COCL-COAB office will not be available, as staff will be detailed to other duties and not available to staff the office.

The COCL maintains that community input and engagement are critically important to the process of implementing the Settlement Agreement and reforming the Portland Police Bureau. The COAB recess signals an opportunity to assess, retool, and strengthen the structure and process of community engagement.

Due to the 60-day recess, the August 24th Executive Committee meeting has been cancelled.


From the Portland Mercury –

If you’re interested in reading more, here’s some behind-the-scenes communication from people involved with the COAB hiatus.

An August 19 letter from Assistant US Attorney Adrian Brown to Portland City Attorney Tracy Reeve:

Dear Ms. Reeve:

In light of the recent difficulties inhibiting the proper functioning of the Community Oversight Advisory Board and the City’s compliance with Section IX of the Settlement Agreement, we agree that a sixty-day recess of COAB meetings is warranted. During this time, the City will be in a position to evaluate the successes and failures of the community engagement and oversight provisions of the agreement. At the end of the sixty-day period, we anticipate an opportunity to review the City’s proposal for conceptual amendments.

The United States will not seek enforcement action against the City during this temporary break. The annual report may reflect the City’s noncompliance, with recognition of the difficulties associated with implementation.

Finally, throughout the next 60 days, we look forward to meeting periodically to share stakeholder input. We will work with you towards a proposal for modifications.

Please contact us with any questions.


Tracy Reeve’s emailed response to Brown on Monday:

Dear Adrian,

Thank you for your letter of August 19, 2016 agreeing that a sixty-day recess of COAB meetings is warranted given recent circumstances. We will assist the COCL in recessing all official COAB business for the next 60 days.

We have already begun to collaborate with stakeholders on how to strengthen the community engagement process. We anticipate that we will have a conceptual proposal for amendments to you by October 20, 2016. We look forward to working with you to develop any modifications to Section IX of the Settlement Agreement which are warranted to improve the community engagement process.

In the meantime, we are more than happy to have informal conversations to update you on the stakeholder input we are receiving. We do request that the City be afforded the opportunity to manage the outreach to stakeholders over the next 60 days to avoid any confusion in the community as to our respective roles.

We are extremely grateful for the collaborative relationship we enjoy with you and your colleagues as we continue our work to fully achieve the goals of the Settlement Agreement.

Best Regards,


Mayor Charlie Hales’ office’s statement on the COAB recess:

Over the past several months, the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB), created as part of the City of Portland’s Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding police interactions with people in mental health crisis, has experienced a number of challenges to functioning effectively. There have been verbal attacks; concern for physical safety; and exclusions from public meetings. COAB is a volunteer board that requires a significant time commitment and several members have resigned. Additionally, remaining COAB members have recommended that the Settlement Agreement be amended to restructure the group. These factors are contributing to difficulties in complying with current legal requirements and organizational mandates.

“Community participation in the police reform process is essential for our Portland Police Bureau to be a productive, trusted community partner,” said Mayor Hales. “We still have a great deal of work to do in building trust and legitimacy within the community. I remain committed to finding a community engagement structure and process that works for all Portlanders.”

The City has already begun to collaborate with stakeholders on how to strengthen the community engagement process. In order to focus the City’s efforts to engage in meaningful discussions, the DOJ and the City have agreed to suspend COAB meetings for a 60-day period, and evaluate how to create a better process that fulfills the intention of community involvement in police accountability. In addition to specific stakeholder outreach, there is a community forum scheduled for Monday, September 12, 2016 at Maranatha Church 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Maranatha Church is located at 4222 NE 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon. If you prefer to send email comments to the City please use this address: cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov.

The City anticipates having a conceptual proposal for amendments to the Settlement Agreement by October 20, 2016.


An email to COAB members from the two Chicago-based academics in the COCL (Dennis Rosenbaum and Amy Watson) which, as of now, runs the COAB:

Dear COAB members;

We write to inform you that the City and DOJ have come to an agreement on a 60-day COAB recess (please see below and attached). During this period, the City will seek community stakeholder input in evaluating the community engagement and oversight provisions of the Settlement Agreement and propose and discuss amendments with the DOJ team with an eye toward strengthening the community engagement process.

During this period, there will be no full COAB, Executive or subcommittee meetings. Additionally, the COCL-COAB office will not be available, as staff will be detailed to other duties and not available to staff the office.

The COCL maintains that community input and engagement are critically important to the process of implementing the Settlement Agreement and reforming the Portland Police Bureau. The COAB recess signals an opportunity to assess, retool, and strengthen the structure and process of community engagement.

We thank you for your patience and all of your hard work to date.

Sincerely,

Dennis Rosenbaum & Amy Watson


Former COAB chair Kathleen Saadat’s email to a whole bunch of people this afternoon:

To All Concerned:

I am writing as a private citizen, who has the experience of chairing the Community Oversight Advisory Board from June 1, 2015 until June 24,2016. Because this issue is extremely important to Portland and the communities that make up the totality of Portland residents, I am taking the time to respectfully share my thoughts with you about some of the issues that need to be addressed.

I blind copied about 40 people on this email. They are bcc’ed because I have not asked their permission to share their contact information. At the same time, it is important that as many people as possible, know the status of the COAB.

I applaud the decision to recess. This gives everyone a chance to give thought to what needs to be reconfigured/redesigned to help untangle the imbroglio of thoughts, feelings, policies, missteps, and good intentions surrounding this opportunity. It I s of critical importance to maintain a vehicle that provides for input from a broad spectrum of Portland residents. At this point, that imperfect but still viable vehicle is the COAB.

As you reconsider/reconfigure/redesign this vehicle, I encourage consideration of the following
-develop a clear concise statement re the purpose of the Board and share that with the broader Portland community using a variety of methods
-in you communication with stakeholders talk with people currently and actively engaged in working in/with communities and ask their thoughts on focus/direction and structure of the Board
-establish minimum criteria for selection to the Board and a process that insures implementation of same
-finalize the selection process and publish it, including timelines, responsibilities and who makes final decisions
– insure that EACH appointee goes through an orientation and swearing in as a public official
– explore ways to insure that City entities (e.g. CRC, HRC) are responsive to their obligations to make
appointments or remove their roles as described in the SA
– analyze each and every recommended change in terms of its real or potential impact on the ability of ordinary, non-elected, (but affected) Portland residents to have a voice in the process of PPB reform.
– to promote the Portland City Council’s greater interest in the process and outcome (while avoiding the inclination to shape outcome), the Council should hold quarterly Work Sessions during which they will receive a report from the COAB regarding product and the health of the board
-The city of Portland should identify a person in the Mayor’s office who is responsible for the ultimate success of the COAB, thus leaving the City attorney’s office in its appropriate role as advisor on legal matters instead of decision maker on process or policy.
I am sure that if I spent more time there more things I could think of. This list I believe to be of upmost importance as you consider changes in the SA.


Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2016
From: Ashlee Albies – attorney for the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition
To: Judy Prosper, Deanna Wesson-Mitchell, Ellen Osoinach
Cc: Jonas Geissler, Adrian Brown
Subject: AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform position on proposed COAB Recess

Dear Ms. Prosper, Ms. Osinach, Ms. Wesson-Mitchell, Ms. Brown, and Mr. Geissler,

As we have already discussed with the DOJ and City, the AMA Coalition opposes the temporary recess of the COAB. For the record, as the AMAC has already conveyed, the AMA Coalition believes that the COAB needs to continue its important work and a recess will be seen by the community as an abandonment of the community component of the Settlement Agreement. The AMA Coalition recognizes, however, that issues with the current COAB structure need to be addressed. Toward that end, the AMA Coalition advocated that the Parties (the City, the DOJ, the AMA Coalition and the PPA) and a representative from the COAB convene a small group to work through these issues together and come up with a plan; these meetings were intended to take place parallel to the COAB meetings. In the meantime, the AMAC advocated that COAB should be able to function and the City Commissioners and the Human Rights Commission should appoint members to the COAB so that it could continue its work, even if these appointments would have been temporary or interim.

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Response to Portland Auditor’s suggestions for police reform

Sent by board members of the Mental Health Association of Portland to Auditor Mary Hale Caballero, IPR Director Constantin Severe, Police Chief Mike Marshman, Portland City Commissioners, allies and colleagues – from the board of directors of the Mental Health Association of Portland.

In response to CITY AUDITOR PROPOSES CHANGES TO PORTLAND’S POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM, released August 18

Hi Mary.

Thanks for your proposal to amend city code to improve the system of police accountability. It is commendably straightforward and simple. However, we believe there are certain important elements missing or in need of revision, and we hope you will give serious thought to the five points below.

1. “Reasonable person” standard

For years the standard of review by which officers are judged has been how a “reasonable person” would act. Many people, however, have advanced strong arguments for changing the standard to the more easily grasped “preponderance of the evidence.” Portland Copwatch addressed the issue in depth in a 2011 article available at http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/preponderance_analysis_0411.pdf. Five years later, the article is still current, the questions are the same, and a change is overdue.

2. Other enumerations of needs

It would be helpful if you would relate your proposal to the US DOJ v City of Portland Settlement Agreement, or to other observed and prioritized needs from prior police accountability experts the city has hired over the years.

3. Smaller appeals panel

We agree individual appeals should be heard by a smaller number of CRC members, but three is too few; five or seven is fine. With only three, a citizen’s panel would never reflect the diversity needed for a true representation of Portland’s communities. Also, it is important to think through how a smaller appeals committee would be selected from the whole; for example, availability is not a good criterion.

4. Perspective of those directly affected

As you know, the majority of persons who come in contact with police have recurring issues with mental illness, addiction, or both. We believe their perspective is critical to any discussion of police accountability. Looking at the bullet points in your press release from the viewpoint of persons in recovery from mental illness or addiction who have been harmed by police, and who then made a complaint against an officer or officers, we offer the following comments.

To date, from what we know, not one person with mental illness or addiction has resolved a complaint about the Portland police to their advantage outside of civil court: not with police administration or Internal Affairs; not with community groups or individual advocates; not through the Independent Police Review, the Citizen’s Review Commission, the former Chief’s Forum, or any other venue. Out of perhaps thousands of cases, that’s a total of zero. The odds of police misusing force are low, but for the most frequent victims, it seems the gates of justice have been barred. And considering the barriers, including the intangible ones caused by symptoms of our illnesses – which, by the way, we never asked for – it’s likely most complaints were never made in the first place.

Parenthetically, please note that until significant reforms actually happen, our organization will continue to refer persons harmed by police directly to local attorneys for litigation in civil court.

The process of making and resolving claims is not intended to be antagonistic to either party. The purpose is to reduce injury and increase accountability; ideally, experience guides future action. It is the resolution of complaints that increases our shared index of experience and moves us to a collective goal of reducing meritless use of force. Resolution should be a useful and positive process for all.

If the city is sincere about reducing routine harm by police to people with mental illness and addictions, surmounting the barriers to resolution should be a priority. A good first step would be to make staff support available for persons with psychiatric disabilities throughout the complaint process, as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and as the only way to ensure complaints are understood and fairly resolved.

What this support entails is worthy of discussion within your office, and worthy of leadership who understand the value of that discussion.

Imagine a community exists in Portland, with more than 160,000 people (a federal estimate of the number of Portlanders with psychiatric disabilities) who speak a language no one outside their community understands. Does anyone on the IPR speak our language? In the police bureau? On the Citizen’s Review Commission? We think no.

At minimum, support for people with mental illness and addictions must include time with a knowledgeable and skilled person who can explain the process to the claimant, and if wanted, their friends, family or a claimant-identified agency employee, either a volunteer or a staff person.

Whether complaints are handled by the police bureau’s Internal Affairs department, the Independent Police Review Division, or the Citizen’s Review Commission, people with psychiatric disabilities should be supported in understanding and navigating a process the DOJ called “Byzantine.” How any of these bodies operate is obscure, interacting with them daunting. Without someone to show the way, the very people most affected by police use of force will be the most hopelessly lost.

5. Public participation

Because trust between the city and the community over police accountability has been severed – and this began before your time – reforms without intentional repairs to that relationship are probably useless. Public observation and recording of the public’s business are essential to rebuilding trust. The public should always be welcome, always be able to see and hear proceedings for themselves, always be able to record proceedings and request public documents, and always be able to present testimony in response to the meeting’s agenda. Repairing the damage does not require the city to tolerate mischief. It does require acknowledging people are angry and will react to trust issues.

Mary, thanks again for your engagement on this issue. We look forward to an expanded proposal and presentation from you tonight.


ANALYSIS: Proposed oversight system changes still shut out public, don’t address problems
From – Portland Copwatch, August 22

Auditor Hull Caballero, Director Severe, and members of City Council:

Portland Copwatch applauds the City’s decision to keep police misconduct appeal hearings public. However, we strenuously object to the proposal to silence community input during the hearings. There are also a number of provisions in the proposed panel configuration of the CRC that will not necessarily help with the goal of speeding up the process, specifically, it lowers the number (and thus diversity) of CRC members and doesn’t guarantee the same people will sit at as many as four hearings on the same case using the current structure. Furthermore, the previous proposal included promises of long-awaited changes to the system which are now absent. All of this proves that we still need more time to hash out the details on how to improve the oversight system, so the City should slow down, create a public work group, and get this done properly.

Over the years, the public’s ability to comment at hearings has been a strength of the CRC system, not a weakness. The implication that somehow community comments will unduly sway CRC to make a decision that prompts the Police Association to file a grievance is pure speculation and insults the ability of the carefully screened CRC members to balance facts from opinions. Moreover, the appellant is not provided a paid advocate, while the officers involved are capable of engaging a union representative and/or a lawyer at no cost to themselves. The volunteer Appeals Process Advisors are warned not to advocate for the appellants, and are not allowed to share the contents of case files with them. When volunteer attorneys manage to connect with appellants, they are not allowed to look at the case files. Thus, the statement made by the Auditor to the Oregonian implying that the community should not comment because they don’t have access to the case file is extremely disingenuous– the person who says they were harmed by the police and who set the process in motion does not have access either. They have the same case summary paperwork as the community.

Community comments on training, policy, and CRC procedures, as well as connecting the appellant’s experiences to other incidents, serves to improve the process. The DOJ did not recommend removing public comment in their findings letter or the Settlement Agreement. Do not continue this effort to shut out the community. If you look at the disruptions to previous CRC meeting and meetings of the Community Oversight Advisory Board, it is completely predictable that shutting people up will lead to more disruptions rather than a better process. If this change is being made due to the water tossing incident, it should be pointed out that the CRC– whose member was the target of that water– stood up for the community continuing to attend their hearings, and the member who was soaked sat on the Focus Group but did not suggest ending public comment based on that incident.

We also should add here that the officer and his/her representative can say anything they want, and if those unsupported statements sway the CRC it’s unlikely anyone will file a grievance or lawsuit. Portland Copwatch has done an analysis of eight times officers have appeared at CRC meetings, and noted that there was only one time they ended up proposing a “Sustained” finding. Thus, one could conclude that officers should not be allowed to testify as they unduly sway the CRC– but we do not advocate that change, we only point this out to encourage a balanced playing field.

We’ve also heard that the City is claiming they want to cut out public comment because some comments have “re-traumatized” the appellants. Considering that they are showing up because they feel an officer has committed harm against them, that is difficult to believe. Of the last 9 cases that came before CRC, two appellants didn’t even show up. At least two of the other 7 (and one witness who testified at two hearings) have informed us they were not bothered by public comments, we’re awaiting feedback from more. This specious claim can easily be refuted, too, since the community is almost always supporting the complainant and asking that the officer be held accountable.

The proposal to lower the quorum of CRC members from 5 to 3 for appeal hearings will eliminate the value of the diversity deliberately achieved when CRC members are chosen. Portland Copwatch recommends instead that the City: (a) increase the CRC to 15 members and (b) use the 20-member Police Review Board civilian pool to add diversity and numbers to the “panels.” We suggest panels of 4 CRC members and 3 PRB members with a minimum of 5 present to proceed with an appeal. (While amending this section, the provision setting the now-11 member CRC’s quorum at 5 means that a minority of the group can make a decision with the majority absent. Even though the City Attorney claimed a few weeks ago that they need 6 people to make administrative decisions, that is not written into any policy nor the ordinance. That should be clarified.) Our calculations show this would mean if there were three hearings a month, each CRC member would hear 11-12 cases and each PRB member would hear 6-8 cases including PRB hearings. That seems to be a manageable workload, particularly for PRB members who only hear 1-2 cases per year and otherwise never get to interact with other members of the pool as only one civilian PRB member sits at PRB hearings. This is an ideal time to add members to the CRC and modify the PRB’s responsibilities since new members of both bodies are about to be inducted by Council.

One reason to have a larger number of people at the “panels”: If the CRC continues to hold Case File Reviews, hear appeals, send back cases for more investigation, and hold “conference hearings” when the Bureau disagrees with their findings, it’s highly likely that the same panel of 3 people won’t be available for all of those supplemental hearings. This means other members will have to read the case file and listen to the tapes of the hearing.

On that note, if the City really wants to speed up the appeal process, you should eliminate the “conference hearings.” The ordinance was created to resolve disputes between the Bureau and the CRC at a City Council hearing. This Thursday, the Bureau is coming back for the fourth time in three years to dispute a recommended finding by CRC. If the Committee’s time is to be freed up to hear more cases, just let those appeals head right to Council as originally envisioned. We reluctantly point out that Council normally allows public input before they vote on anything, so the City’s efforts to squash community voices may be neutralized after CRC passes appeals up the chain. If this observation leads the City to change the ordinance to prohibit public input at Council appeals, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

In 2015-2016, CRC has met 15 times to consider just 8 appeals, in part because of cases that were poorly investigated and needed to be sent back (three cases) and the two previous “conference hearings.” Our full analysis of these two years is attached below.

Then there are the broken promises from the last version of the changes, presented to the community for the first time on August 1 and already changed.

–There is no provision to change the CRC’s standard of review to “preponderance of the evidence.” If anything takes up too much time and causes confusion at appeal hearings, it is CRC’s trying to adhere to the “reasonable person” standard that was stuck in the definitions section of the IPR ordinance in 2001. Since CRC’s votes to change findings are just recommendations, it’s not clear why they need to maintain this deferential standard.

–The CRC was going to be allowed to hear cases of deadly force/deaths in custody in the previous proposal. While we believe the existing ordinance does not prohibit their hearing such appeals, the ability should be added while these changes are being made. It’s previously been stated that the prohibition on CRC, as well as IPR looking at deadly force cases, comes not from the ordinance but from the PPA’s collective bargaining agreement. Thus, the ordinance should be written to explicitly allow IPR and CRC to investigate/consider such cases, and the agreement should be modified to remove that roadblock.

–There was a promise to constitute a civilian majority on the Police Review Board, the internal body that considers out-of-policy and force cases. That proposal is nowhere to be found. Portland Copwatch continues to believe that the CRC and the PRB should be even more closely integrated and that the PRB hearings should be heard by only members of the 20-member civilian pool of PRB (and CRC members at deadly force cases). That said, we do appreciate that the complainant is now going to be afforded the ability to come to PRB hearings. However, rather than just a “representative,” the complainant should be assigned an advocate from the day their complaint is filed who supports them at the PRB and, if they file an appeal, at the appeal hearing. The community member will be in a room with at least 3-4 police officers (and many more including advisory members to the PRB) with no advocate and at best a one-person support network.

There are some parts of the proposal which are promising.

–It is encouraging that some of the rules that allow IPR to dismiss complaints are being deleted, including the “crystal ball” provision put in 6 years ago which indicated the Division could determine whether a case could be proven before an investigation took place.

–There is something to be said for shifting the responsibility for attaching findings to investigations from the officers’ commander to the IPR Director or IA Captain. This will eliminate the time that this step takes and provide consistency, especially since IPR is less likely to have direct ties to the officers being investigated– though that is not so true for IA. Much to their credit, IPR has added to the PRB ordinance that the IPR staff person who investigates and/or makes findings can’t be the same person who votes on the PRB. This means this also eliminates our past objection to the commander voting on his/her own decision (second bite at the apple), and that IPR technically isn’t being asked to take that second bite. Perhaps the IPR should attach all the findings since the IA Captain is part of the Police Bureau and has the appearance of a conflict of interest.

We have no opinion on the removal of the word “Division” from the IPR’s name, but so long as Internal Affairs has to compel officer testimony when IPR investigates misconduct, the word “Independent” is the issue.

In summary, please do not eliminate public input, please expand CRC and utilize the PRB civilian pool to a fuller extent, and please slow this process down until it has been properly thought through. The few good things in this proposal do not offset the bad.

Thank you
dan handelman
portland copwatch

ANALYSIS OF CRC CASES 2015-2016:

8 cases have come before CRC in 2015-2016 to date.

Mr. Klug’s case alleging force including a Taser has come before CRC three times and is coming back a fourth time on Sept. 7. Those four times:
–his Case File Review (CFR) in October, where the case was sent back for more investigation as all witnesses were not interviewed;
–the police no-show for the appeal hearing in April, though security measures had been implemented;
–the appeal hearing in May;
and the Sept 7 will be a supplemental hearing to use the correct Taser Directive.

Regarding the 7 other cases heard just in 2015-2016,
–three had CFRs and Appeal Hearings the same nights (Mr. West’s case of the grabbed camcorder came back to a conference hearing. The others were the case of a protestor allegedly being shoved and the case of alleged force against a woman on a Tri-Met platform),
–one had a CFR and is still pending (young man in a car alleging force),
–one had a CFR, a hearing, a conference hearing (led to more investigation to expand allegations), and a supplemental hearing, plus an aborted hearing where the paperwork was messed up (surrounding detentions/ arrests at a post-Ferguson verdict protest),
–one had a CFR (sent back for witness investigation), an appeal hearing, and is coming back for a conference hearing on Thursday (Ms. Foroshani, who was told she wasn’t a good attorney and possibly manhandled),
–one had a CFR and appeal hearing (Ms. Siri, who said her landlord and police came into her house inappropriately, heard on different dates prior to code changes allowing CFRs and hearings to be heard on the same day).

If you only count Mr Klug’s two hearings to date, there were 15 different gatherings of CRC to hold CFRs and/or appeals in these two calendar years, but there are only 8 cases involved. It will be 18 total gatherings once Mr Klug, Ms Foroshani, and the young man in the car finally have their cases disposed of, 20 if you count the no-show by the PPB and the case where the IPR messed up the protest case paperwork.

Here’s the timeline:

May 6 2015: Siri CFR
June 3 2015: Siri Appeal
October 7: Klug CFR
November 4: Shoving CFR/Appeal
December 2: Protest CFR
January 6: Protest Appeal
January 21: Foroshani CFR
February 3: Car CFR
February 25: Protest Conference
March 2: Trimet CFR/Appeal
March 30: Mr. West CFR/Appeal
April 20: (No hearing) Klug Supplemental
May 4: Klug Supplemental
June 2: West Conference
June 21: Foroshani Appeal
July 6: (No hearing) Protest supplemental
August 3: Protest supplemental


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Greg Walden: Combating mental illness and drug addiction

By Greg Walden – U.S. Representative, Oregon
August 19, 2016

Across Oregon, I’ve talked with many families who are struggling with mental illness and drug addiction. These touch every segment of our communities, no matter where you live or what you look like. Tragically, they often carry with them a major stigma in society, and help is hard to find. Fortunately, Congress is working in a bipartisan way to help solve these problems and offer relief to those who need help.

The size of the crisis is staggering. Nearly 10 million Americans have a serious mental illness, and yet 40 percent of them aren’t receiving the treatment they need. In Oregon, more people are dying from drug overdoses than car accidents, with our state ranked consistently at the top for non-medical use of prescription pain relievers.

I’ve heard the heartbreaking personal stories from people who are most affected. At roundtables in Medford, Bend, and Hermiston, I spoke with parents whose children experienced homelessness, violence, and worse due to mental health issues or drug addiction. I’ve heard from law enforcement officials about how the default place for the mentally ill is often the local jail. Local physicians and caregivers told me how they severely lack the resources to effectively help patients suffering from addiction.

The good news is recently the U.S. House passed two key pieces of legislation: the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to tackle this crisis head on.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act focuses on improving drug abuse treatments, addressing the underlying causes of addiction and helping those most at risk. Our bill expands access to care and prevention services in our communities, and establishes best practices that will help prevent lawful prescription use from spiraling into abuse. It gives new tools to law enforcement and prevention advocates to combat the epidemic of painkillers and heroin.

Importantly, we’re increasing first responders’ access to the potentially lifesaving anti-overdose drug naloxone. While some states, such as Oregon, have already broadened its availability, I believe the use of naloxone should be boosted around the country. With our bill, we can ensure better access to treatment, we can reduce the number of legally-proscribed pills that shouldn’t be out there and save lives.

Meanwhile, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act would be the first significant overhaul of the nation’s mental health system since the Kennedy administration. Our bill reforms the 112 federal programs that address mental health, ensuring they effectively coordinate and streamlining the bureaucracy currently creating serious barriers to care. It allows families to better work with health care professionals to care for loved ones, and helps fix the shortage of 100,000 psychiatric hospital beds in this country. Our bill also advances tele-psychiatry to help mentally ill patients in rural and underserved areas.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, those patients with severe mental illness who do receive care are 15 times less likely to commit, or be the victim of, violent acts than those who go untreated. While the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act works to make sure that those who are struggling do not go on to harm themselves or others.

Both of these bills addressing mental health and opioid abuse have passed the House with overwhelmingly bipartisan support. I’m proud to say that the drug addiction plan has also been passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President. And I hope that the Senate will soon pass the mental health reform bill so that we can deliver help quickly to those who need it.

Mental health and drug addiction issues do not discriminate based on age or gender or where you live or what political party you belong to. They impact our neighbors, our friends, and our families in Oregon and across the nation. For the sake of our children, our safety, and our society, we must fix this broken system that allows those who are suffering from mental illness and drug addiction to fall through the cracks.

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KBOO’s Karen James Interviews Clackamas Jailer Lee Eby

KBOO’s Karen James interviews Clackamas County Jail Commander Captain Lee Eby. Captain Eby spoke recently at a NAMI Clackamas event about the new Transition Center across from the Clackamas jail that is providing services and programs for people as they release from custody. The County used some of the justice reinvestment funds (HB 3194 passed in 2013) to open the center—the first of its kind in Oregon. He is also committed to helping people with mental health challenges stay out of the county jail and strives to provide adequate mental health care if incarcerated. With the jail’s recidivism rate at 78%, Captain Eby says it’s time to try another approach. The interview is 13 minutes.

KBOO Community Radio 90.7 FM Portland

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Community Members Say City is Out of Compliance with DOJ v. City of Portland

SENT BY EMAIL August 12, 2016

Jonas Geissler, Senior Trial Attorney, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
Adrian Brown, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Portland, Oregon
Mayor Charlie Hales
Commissioner Nick Fish
Commissioner Amanda Fritz
Commissioner Steve Novick
Commissioner Dan Saltzman
Tracy Reeve, City Attorney
Ellen Osoinach, Deputy City Attorney
Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

READ – Full letter from 6 of 8 COAB members, August 12, 2016 (PDF)

READ – Response to letter from 6 of 8 COAB members from Rosenbaum & Watson LLP, August 15, 2016

Re: Settlement Agreement in United States of America v. City of Portland, Case No. 3:12-cv-02265-SI

We, the 6 individuals named below, make the following two recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the City of Portland. We comprise 6 of the 8 remaining members of the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB). Unfortunately, the actions of the City of Portland and the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison (COCL) described below have prevented the COAB from conducting a public meeting to consider the two recommendations.

A. The DOJ should find the City of Portland to be in noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement.

Recommendation:

The DOJ should find the City of Portland to be in noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement in each of the following respects and for the following reasons:

1. Settlement Agreement – Paragraphs 142 and 145. COAB selection

Currently the COAB has only 8 voting members, consisting of only one of the required 5 appointees by the City Council, only 3 of the required 5 appointees from Portland’s Human Rights Commission and Portland’s Commission on Disability, and only 4 of the 5 appointees from the community at-large.

The City is in noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement by not filling the 7 vacancies on the COAB.

2. Settlement Agreement – Paragraph 145; Collaborative Agreement with the AMAC – Paragraph 11. COAB selection

For COAB’s community at-large members, the City has not clarified or established a process for the selection of alternates to fill community at-large vacancies on the COAB. The lack of such a process was raised by the DOJ in its 9/10/2015 Compliance Status Assessment Report, page 81.

By not having such a process in place, the City is in noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement and the Collaborative Agreement with the AMAC.

3. Settlement Agreement – Paragraph 152. COAB meetings with the Chief, the Police Commissioner and others

The Settlement Agreement states “[t]he COAB, shall meet at least twice per year with the Chief, the Police Commissioner, PPB Precinct Commanders, PPB Neighborhood Response Teams, and a representative of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention to assess and solicit comment on PPB’S activities in regards to community outreach, engagement, and problem-solving policing.” The lack of such meetings was raised by the DOJ in its 9/10/2015 Compliance Status Assessment Report, page 85, wherein it noted: “PPB states that it was planning its first such meeting for this fall. PPB 2015 Q2 compliance report, Item 152.” Neither the PPB’s planned meeting for the fall of 2015 nor any of the required twice annual meetings have been held.

The City is in noncompliance with the Settlement Agreement by not ensuring that the named individuals meet at least twice per year with the COAB.

B. The contract between the City of Portland and the Compliance Officer Community Liaison should be terminated.

Recommendation:

The contract between the City of Portland and the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison (COCL) should be terminated.

Under the Settlement Agreement, the “COCL will chair the COAB, preside over COAB meetings, take and count votes, and perform such other activities as are necessary for the efficient operation of the COAB.” Settlement Agreement, paragraph. 144.

Under the “Standard of Care” provision in the contract between the City of Portland and the COCL, the COCL “shall perform all services under this contract using that care, skill, and diligence that would ordinarily be used by similar professionals in this community in similar circumstances.” Contract with Rosenbaum and Watson, LLP, “Terms and Conditions,” paragraph 1. Also under the contract, “[t]he City may terminate the [COCL]’s appointment for cause if the City determines that the [COCL] or any members of [COCL]’s team has engaged in any misconduct or ethical violations.”

In the last two months, the COCL has repeatedly interfered with the COAB’s ability to conduct public meetings, to meaningfully engage with the community at-large and to carry out its responsibilities as authorized in the Settlement Agreement, paragraph 141, as follows:

1. In June 2016, several COAB members became concerned about the COCL’s recruitment and intent to hire another person to be the “local” COCL, replacing Kathleen Saadat, to chair the COAB. Instead, those members were interested in having the COAB select its chair from its membership. To formalize such a recommendation to the parties to the Settlement Agreement, those members asked the COCL to schedule an emergency public COAB meeting. The COCL refused to do.

As a result of being refused the right to meet, 9 of the remaining 10 COAB members at the time, signed an Open Letter dated July 4, 2016 which stated:

“We, the individuals named below, oppose the Compliance Officer and Community Liaison (COCL) hiring yet another local person to be the Chair of the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB). In the interest of self-governance and independence from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the City and the COCL, we are convinced after what has happened over the past year and a half that the Chair of the COAB needs to be the Chair of the COAB, the Settlement Agreement needs to be modified by the DOJ and the City to give the COAB the authority to select its own Chair from its members.

We believe this change in how the COAB operates is crucial to building community trust in the COAB and in allowing the COAB to successfully fulfill its responsibilities under the Settlement Agreement between the DOJ and the City.”

Subsequent to signing the letter and after refusing the request for the emergency meeting, the COCL criticized the members of the COAB for signing the Open Letter suggesting they did so in violation of the public meetings law.

2. For the regularly scheduled COAB Executive Committee meeting on July 6, 2016, the COCL decided unilaterally that the members of the Executive Committee and the COCL would be separated from the community at-large. The Chair of the Executive Committee opposed such a separation, but to no avail. The phone conference and logistics during the meeting to which the community at-large were subjected in their separate room were terrible. The separation created an “us” versus “them” mentality between the COAB and the community at-large. It was very difficult and sometimes impossible to hear and understand the speakers on the phone, or even be able to identify who was speaking. Some community members were also denied an opportunity to offer public comments, in part because the COCL ended the meeting early.

3. The COCL again decided unilaterally to separate the COAB and the COCL from the community at-large for the regularly scheduled July 14, 2016 COAB meeting. The Chair of the Executive Committee again opposed such a meeting format. After a hue and cry from members of the COAB as well as members of the community at-large, the COCL relented and allowed the meeting to take place without any separation of those attending the meeting.

4. The COCL cancelled the regularly scheduled July 18, 2016 meeting of the Data Systems, Use of Force, Compliance Subcommittee despite the objections of the chair of the sub-committee and other COAB members.

5. The chair of the Executive Committee requested time, following the COCL’s Town Hall scheduled for July 28, 2016, for the COAB to meet. The COCL denied the request. After another round of hue and cry, the COCL relented and allowed the COAB to meet after the Town Hall concluded.

6. The COCL has informed the COAB that it cancelled the regularly scheduled August 11, 2016 COAB meeting because it allegedly had determined there was a lack of a quorum, i.e., not all 8 of the remaining COAB members could attend the meeting. However, neither the COAB By-laws nor the Oregon public meetings law require a quorum for a public body, such as the COAB, to meet.

The COCL has engaged in misconduct as described above and its contract with the City of Portland should be terminated.

C. Conclusion

We trust that our critical recommendations and the reasons in support of them will be taken seriously.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Catherine Gardner, Myrlaviani Rivier, Tom Steenson, Jimi Johnson, Rochelle Silver, Philip Wolfe

cc: Hon. Michael Simon, U.S. District Court Judge, District of Oregon
Dr. T. Allen Bethel, Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform
Debbie Aiona, League of Women Voters of Portland
Dan Handleman, Portland Copwatch
Jason Renaud, Mental Health Association of Portland
Jan Friedman, Disability Rights Oregon
Kristen Chambers, National Lawyers Guild
Jo Ann Hardesty, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Dennis Rosenbaum, Compliance Officer and Community Liaison

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82% of Portland cops don’t believe settlement agreement will help

The Oregonian, July 30, 2016

A survey of 370 Portland police officers revealed that a majority don’t think a settlement agreement with the U.S Department of Justice meant to usher in training and other reforms will improve policing in the city over time.

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed disagreed with the statement: “The Settlement Agreement with DOJ is a good thing that will improve the PPB in the long run.”

Of those, 51 percent strongly disagreed and 31.7 percent disagreed. Only 2.5 percent of officers surveyed said they strongly agreed with the statement. 

Read the full article on OregonLive.com


Community members say city’s proposed Portland police oversight changes would be ‘huge step backward’

From The Oregonian, August 2, 2016

Community members blasted city officials for not providing adequate notice of Monday night’s town hall meeting or disclosing details sooner of a significant plan to overhaul Portland’s police oversight system that appears headed for a City Council hearing next month.

The proposal would end public hearings on appeals of Portland Police Bureau findings stemming from citizen complaints of alleged officer misconduct. Instead, those complaints would be heard behind closed doors before a Police Review Board.

Residents who file police complaints with the city could challenge a police supervisor’s findings and make their concerns heard at the front end before the Police Review Board. The board, made up of officers and citizen representatives, recommends to the police chief whether to sustain a complaint and, if so, suggests the level of discipline.

Read the full article on OregonLive.com


Portland City Council Town Hall

August 1, 2016
Proposed Changes to Police Accountability Processes in City Code

Streamlined Portland Police Accountability Process (PDF). This document was circulated at the August 1, Portland City Council Town Hall on “Proposed Changes to Police Accountability Processes in City Code.”

UPDATE August 20: This proposal was dropped from consideration by the mayor’s office on about August 2.


Letter from National Lawyers Guild in opposition to proposed merger of Citizen’s Review Board and Police Review Board (PDF)


Comments on proposed changes to city code and police oversight

Letter from Portland Copwatch

To Auditor Hull Caballero, Mayor Hales, and members of City Council:

Most core members of Portland Copwatch are at a pre-scheduled event and unable to be at tonight’s hastily assembled Town Hall.

The highest priority of the DOJ Settlement Agreement is to build community trust. The manner and substance of the proposed changes to the oversight system do not lead to that trust. All past major changes– from its inception as PIIAC in 1982, to the move to IPR in 2001, and the Stakeholders Group in 2010– involved lengthy community input.

Our July 22 analysis of the Auditor’s proposed changes found:

1– The proposal doesn’t solve the problem of misconduct complaints taking too long to be resolved.

2– Getting rid of public appeal hearings on misconduct cases thwarts the will of the people.

3– The CRC’s appeals are where the community gets a true sense of police training, policy and accountability.

In addition, the City Attorney says moving complainants’ hearings into a room that excludes the public and the press will improve “Procedural Justice.” There is no procedural justice in a Star Chamber.

We analyzed the seven appeals CRC heard since Council changed the ordinance to speed up hearings, proving that pushing CRC appeals behind closed doors will not save time.

–Two cases went through Reviews and Appeals on the same nights.

–Two cases were delayed after the Bureau refused to accept CRC’s recommendations. In one, the Chief agreed to “Sustain” a complaint, the other led to further investigation.

–Two cases were sent back for more investigation. Though the Agreement requires such investigations be completed in 10 days, the first took six months, the second took three months, and the rejected findings case took five months.

–One case could not proceed because IPR failed to invite the officer’s commander to the hearing.

In addition, the Bureau refused to attend one CRC hearing–a case still in limbo because the Bureau used the wrong Directive to analyze the officer’s behavior. Another case was further delayed when IPR changed the summary report on the day of the hearing without informing the Appellant.

There were some scheduling conflicts when Appellants were unable to attend meetings– but those delays won’t be resolved by moving the hearings behind closed doors.

The new proposal circulated on July 28 indicates that conflicting parties– IPR, IA, the officer and complainant– can all send cases to the PRB. In the case of the officer who interfered with a videographer, the IPR Director urged the PRB to “Sustain” the finding and was out-voted 4-1. Only allowing CRC and City Council appeals will grant procedural justice for a person wronged by police. Perhaps controverted cases could be sent directly to a CRC/PRB hybrid for public hearings.

We urge Council to use the COAB Accountability Subcommittee’s proposed changes as a basis for discussion.

We do support some aspects of the Auditor’s proposal– but not at the expense of public hearings:
–changing the standard of review to “preponderance of the evidence,”
–letting CRC hear appeals of deadly force cases;
–putting more civilians on the Police Review Board; and
–allowing complainants to attend PRB meetings.

Thank you
dan handelman and other members of Portland Copwatch


Testimony in the Proposed Changes to Police Overight

From the Mental Health Association of Portland

Hi Commissioners.

Thanks for listening tonight to the public testimony about civilian oversight of the Portland Police.

We write in opposition to the auditor’s proposal. Though it’s in no one’s interest to delay justice, there are several causes to the delays built into the CRC and IPR. None of those delays are public engagement or oversight of those justice processes.

We would consider the proposal a lack of imagination but it is in response to DOJ v. City of Portland, which was negotiated over two years ago. That was plenty of time to find a solution which appeals to a broader selection of those interested in justice.

Further, I’m disappointed the proposal is to again engage the problem with the solution. They do not need to be connected, in fact when the problem actively advocates against the best interest of the solution, a good manager removes the problem from the decisional process. The auditor’s proposal the Police Review Board assume civilian review responsibilities – with selected and vetted members of the public asked to participate – does not increase engagement, oversight or community trust.

There are easy, community-based ways, used in comparable communities, which reduce the institutional pressure to resist oversight and discipline. Those ways have not been engaged or as far as I know, considered.

You’re feeling pressure because people are tired of waiting for you to take responsive action, and because they’re tired there has been some acting up and acting out. People have been critical. That’s to be expected. Don’t forget you signed up to take responsive action, and to provide civilian oversight.

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OHA and US DOJ Agreement

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) have a shared interest in utilizing the Health System Transformation to improve health outcomes for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. OHA and US DOJ have agreed to collect data on specific metrics to better understand the system and to engage in discussions regarding services and outcomes. The Matrix identifies the metrics to be collected and the Data Dictionary provides the definition and data collection methodology for each metric.

The voluntary agreement between the OHA and US DOJ was memorialized in a letter dated November 9, 2012. The metrics were updated in July 30, 2014. OHA and US DOJ are currently working together to revise the agreement to achieve positive outcomes.

Documents

US DOJ Letter of Agreement – 2012 Letter memorializing agreement between AMH and US DOJ
​​Matrix​ – Performance Matrix OHA/US DOJ Agreement 07/30/2014
Data Dictionary​

Reports

July 2015
April 2015
January 2015
October 2014​

Oregon Performance Plan

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has issued a Plan to improve mental health services for adults with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). The Plan is being issued after lengthy discussions with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ). In the Plan, the Authority commits to several performance outcome measures and to further data gathering and study of certain issues. Oregon also commits to quality and performance improvement measures, and to data reporting. These measures cover a broad array of subjects, including:

Assertive Community Treatment Services; Crisis services; Supported housing; Peer-delivered services; Oregon State Hospital discharges and linkages to services; Acute psychiatric care discharges and linkages to services; Emergency department services; Supported employment services; Secure Residential Treatment Facility discharges; Criminal Justice diversion; Quality and performance improvement; and Data reporting.

2016 US DOJ Letter – memorializing the agreed upon Oregon Performance Plan between OHA and US DOJ
Oregon Performance Plan Executive Summary
Oregon Performance Plan
Oregon Performance Plan (PowerPoint)

Behavioral Health Collaborative

BH_Map Tool_ July 2016​ (PowerPoint) from July 2016
AOCMHP’s CMHP Role in Oregon Behavioral Health System (PowerPoint) from July 2016

OHA US DOJ Presentation for BHC​ (PowerPoint) from July 2016
OHA’s Overview of the Behavioral Health Map Tool​​ (PowerPoint) from July 2016

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Despite known risks, doctors get more and more people started on opioids, too often leading to addiction, despair, and death

KVAL, July 13, 2016

The recent death of the musician Prince highlights a national problem with opioid overdoses, which on average kill 78 Americans per day.

“We know that we have people dying from this,” Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health said. “We know that we have car accidents being caused by excess use of opiates.”

Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet and a host of other prescription drugs are at the center of this crisis. The category of drugs also includes heroin, a street drug that some addicts turn to when they can no longer access or afford prescription opioids.

Since 1999, the number of prescriptions sold for has quadrupled.

So has the number of people who have died from using them.

“We have too many people addicted to them, and we’re seeing the responses that happen when you have too many people using the opiates,” Luedtke said.

And the problem may be especially acute in Oregon.

More than 6.5 percent of all prescriptions written in Oregon today are for opioids.

That’s about 1/3 more than the national average.

State statistics from last year show that there were enough prescriptions and refills to supply 1 in 4 Oregonians with opioids.

“Once people get opiates, sometimes people like them and they want more,” Luedtke said. “So there’s been a demand from the patient’s standpoint looking for that pain relief.”

That higher demand too often has led to confrontations between some patients and local physicians and insurers as they try to wean patients off the meds.

“Lawsuits, threats of lawsuits, threats of physical violence, all these things we’ve seen,” said Jason Davis, a spokesperson for Lane County Public Health.

And while prescription opioid deaths in Oregon have dropped in recent years,some physicians say they see use and abuse on the rise.

The federal Department of Health and Human service numbers show Lane and Linn counties are still in the top 7 in the state for drug poisoning deaths per 100,000 people.

So what’s being done to treat people?

One of the tools being used at Lane County Public Health is a synthetic narcotic used to treat heroin addicts: methadone.

“Methadone has a shorter period of time in which it’s affecting the body, and it doesn’t elicit quite the same euphoria and other ‘highs,'” Davis said.

But the county’s methadone clinic is operating at capacity. Not everyone who needs help can get it.

The tidal wave of opiates has grabbed the attention of Congress – and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

“I want to make sure that we have enforcement – not so many narcotics automatically just given out indiscriminately, and prevention and treatment,” he said.

Wyden and 6 other senators held a conference committee session July 6 to look for coordinated solutions and recommendations – a national prescription for a health problem that has no easy fix.

On Wednesday, Wyden addressed the issue on the floor of the Senate.

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