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.
Community members say city’s proposed Portland police oversight changes would be ‘huge step backward’
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.
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.
dan handelman and other members of Portland Copwatch
Testimony in the Proposed Changes to Police Overight
From the Mental Health Association of Portland
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.