Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

Community urged to speak out on DOJ Settlement Agreement

Posted by Jenny on 22nd January 2014

Disability Rights Oregon, Jan. 17, 2014

scales-of-justice-gavel_4In 2012, the US DOJ found a “pattern or practice of excessive force by the Portland Police Bureau against people with, or perceived to be with, mental illness.” Now the community needs to speak out at a “Fairness Hearing” on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 9 a.m., 1000 SW 3rd to strengthen the DOJ Agreement. Testify as to whether the agreement is “fair, adequate and reasonable”.

On December 19, 2013, the City of Portland, the Portland Police Association (PPA), the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA, to which DRO is a member) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform agreed to move forward with the process of settling the lawsuit filed by the DOJ.

A Settlement Agreement regarding changes to the policies of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), adopted by City Council in November 2012 includes many positive changes that will address some of the issues found in the DOJ’s pattern and practice investigation.

Now the community needs to speak out at a “Fairness Hearing” on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 9 a.m., 1000 SW 3rd to strengthen the DOJ Agreement.  Testify as to whether the agreement is “fair, adequate and reasonable”

Information about the agreement:

Before the hearing, there are a series of community forums put on by the AMA to explain the DOJ Settlement Agreement and the purpose of the Fairness Hearing to the community. At these forums, people will also be encouraged to write their testimony and/or record video to send to Judge Simon.

The current dates and locations for these forums are:

  • Saturday, January 25, 12 Noon-2:00 pm, Maranatha Church • 4222 NE 12th Ave
  • Tuesday, January 28, 6:30 -8:30 pm, First Unitarian Church • 1011 SW 12th Ave
  • Saturday, February 8, 2:00 -4:00 pm, St Johns Community Center, 8427 N Central St
  • Thursday, February 13, 6:00- 8:00 pm, Rosewood Community Center, 16126 SE Stark St

In addition, Portland Copwatch will hold an informational meeting about the DOJ Agreement on Saturday, February 8 from 2:30-4:30 pm at the AFSC office, 2249 E Burnside.

More information on the AMA Website, http://www.albinaministerialcoalition.org/ ‎and on the Portland Copwatch website, http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/

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City, police union reach tentative agreement on reforms

Posted by Jenny on 8th November 2013

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Nov. 6, 2013

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner, stood with U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Police Chief Mike Reese, on the left, and city commissioners, on the right, to announce the city had reached a tentative agreement on police reforms with the police union.(Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner, stood with U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Police Chief Mike Reese, on the left, and city commissioners, on the right, to announce the city had reached a tentative agreement on police reforms with the police union.(Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

See FAQ below

Portland city officials stood with the police union president and the state’s top prosecutor Wednesday to announce that the city and police union had reached a tentative agreement on reforms to address last year’s scathing federal investigation.

The police union waived its right to challenge proposed changes to the Police Bureau’s use of force and Taser policies — although it’s unclear what final changes the city agreed to make.

But the union retained the right to challenge any reforms that would require officers to give on-scene interviews to detectives after an officer-involved shooting or allow investigators with the city’s Independent Review Division to directly question officers.

READTentative settlement agreement (PDF, 170KB)*

*This is the working version used throughout mediation. We have no knowledge yet of any new or updated document that may have been produced as a result of today’s agreement. –Eds.

READMHAP’s letter to all mental health advocates, 3/24/13

READMHAP’s response to earlier draft of settlement, 10/29/12

READAll items tagged ‘DOJ’

The agreement still must be approved by members of the rank-and-file Portland Police Association and the City Council. Some of the reforms also have been part of recent contract negotiations between the city and police union, which is also nearing a final contract deal.

“This is a day that some people might have wondered would ever occur,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner. “We could have failed … but we are here.”

“I’m very proud we are going to move forward together on a settlement on these very critical issues,” Hales said.

Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said a federal judge will now schedule a fairness hearing to seek input on the package of reforms so they can be adopted in federal court.

The tentative agreement between the city and police union, Marshall said, removes the “one barrier to our final goal” of getting a federal judge to sign off on the police reform package.

“This is a fantastic day for the city of Portland,” Marshall said.

The issue arose after the U.S. Department of Justice found last year that Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness. The findings followed a nearly 15-month federal investigation.

Last November, the City Council approved an initial settlement agreement that called for widespread changes to police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. It also called for restructuring police crisis intervention training and quicker internal inquiries into alleged police misconduct.

The police union objected to the settlement, arguing that changes to the use of force policy, disciplinary procedures and working conditions needed to be the subject of mandatory bargaining.

Officer Daryl Turner, Portland Police Association president, said Wednesday that the union’s desire was to preserve and protect the bargaining rights of its members. As part of the tentative agreement, it withdrew its pending grievance against the settlement.

“The mediation process has worked,” Turner said.

After the brief news conference, Deputy City Attorney Dave Woboril said there won’t be substantial changes to the chief’s rewritten use of force and Taser policies.

Yet Turner signaled that the chief’s final draft will include more than just tweaks.

“The only changes in the force policy are the constitutional changes made since the last force policy was implemented,” Turner said. He declined to say what they include, saying they haven’t been presented to his union members yet. The union has scheduled meetings on Nov. 9, 14, 15 and 16 with its members to ratify a new contract.

City officials have said in the past that one of the main points in dispute came down to the standard for analyzing police use of force. The Police Bureau and city have disagreed with the union’s stance, which would preclude hindsight analysis of an officer’s use of force and restrict a review into whether the actions were reasonable from the officer’s perspective at the time of the incident.

It’s unclear how that has been resolved.

“Wow, we are pleased to be standing here today,” Police Chief Mike Reese said. “There is still work to be done.”

He said the agreement will provide a “road map to guide us forward.”

But Pastor T. Allen Bethel, chairman of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, said afterward: “We’re not totally satisfied.”

“We want to see IPR (the Independent Police Review Division) become truly independent and be represented by independent counsel, not tied to the city attorney’s office,” Bethel said.  He challenged the police chief’s recent statement to the City Council that the police oversight system in place now is working well.

“It is not working well, and it does need to be strengthened and truly independent,” Bethel said.

City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade, who sent out a stinging memo to the council and mayor last week questioning their commitment to police accountability, stood with other city officials at the press conference, but wasn’t asked to speak.

Griffin-Valade said later that she still hopes to push forward the reforms her office has proposed to strengthen the review division, which she oversees.

Hales, who was criticized last week for not moving more quickly on the auditor’s proposals, said he has talked with Griffin-Valade about the memo.

“Those reforms are going to move forward,” he said. “As mayor I don’t condone show hearings. I conduct real hearings. We don’t make up our minds before the hearings. We’re going to craft our policy in the light of day and actually debate.”

The mayor said the union has agreed to the adoption of a matrix to guide the Police Bureau on what discipline to mete out for officer misconduct and changes to the use of force and Taser policies. But he said there’s been no agreement on an effort to seek voluntary statements from officers involved in a shooting in less than the 48-hour window now granted them and an Independent Police Review Division proposal to allow its investigators the right to compel officer testimony. Both would likely require mandatory bargaining, and were not included in the union’s next contract.

Wednesday’s announcement came a week before a federal judge had asked all sides to submit legal briefs for what had been shaping up to be a prospective trial next year on whether Portland police had used excessive force against people with mental illness.

The new agreement should forestall a protracted court proceeding and allow the reforms to proceed.


Settlement FAQ

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Nov. 6, 2013

Here are some answers to questions you may have on the pending U.S. Department of Justice settlement with the city of Portland on reforms to the Portland Police Bureau:

Why are the reforms necessary?

The U.S. Department of Justice last fall completed a nearly 15-month investigation that found Portland officers used excessive force on people with mental illness. It also found police engaged in unjustified use of Tasers against people with mental illness. Federal officials called for a package of reforms to police policies, training and oversight.

What happened next?

The city and federal officials proposed widespread changes that the City Council adopted on Nov. 14, 2012. They called for new policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. They also demanded restructured police crisis intervention training and quicker internal affairs inquiries into alleged police misconduct.

Why did the Portland Police Association object?

When the settlement agreement went before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon for review and approval, the police union argued that many of the reforms should be part of mandatory bargaining because they affected disciplinary procedures and officer working conditions.

When the union objected, what did the federal judge recommend?

The federal judge appointed a mediator to help the city and police union work out their differences.

Have any of the proposed reforms been implemented?

Yes. The Police Bureau started to do training on revised use of force and Taser policies, but those trainings were halted early this year when the union filed a grievance with the city, contesting them. They’ve remained on hold since then.

But these changes were put in place:

The bureau created a new Behavioral Health Unit, expanded to five the number of officers paired with mental health specialists and created an Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team of about 50 officers who receive extra training to go out on calls involving people suffering mental health crises.

The bureau also, at the Justice Department’s recommendation, now sends sergeants to the scene when officers use force so the sergeants can be involved in the initial investigation.

The bureau also has assigned an inspector to analyze all police use of force.

What happened Wednesday?

Mayor Charlie Hales and the Portland Police Association announced they had reached a tentative agreement to work out their differences, but they offered few details.

It’s unclear what concessions the city may have made as part of this year’s contract talks with the police union to achieve the deal. The union has scheduled meetings with its members on Nov. 9, 14, 15 and 16 to ratify the new contract.

The union waived its right to challenge the bulk of the federal settlement agreement, yet the union retained its right to challenge two main areas: provisions that would require officers involved in a shooting to be interviewed at the scene by detectives; and, any broadening of the city Independent Police Review Division’s powers to allow its investigators to directly question officers in its investigations.

What’s next?

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon will schedule a fairness hearing to seek public input on the settlement agreement and the reforms. U.S. Justice officials and the city are hoping the judge ultimately will sign the agreement as an order of the court.

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City Council defers changes to IPR

Posted by Jenny on 24th October 2013

By Helen Silvis, The Skanner, Oct. 23, 2013

Police Chief Mike Reese

Police Chief Mike Reese

Portland City Council deferred a decision on a string of proposals from the auditor’s office to make changes to the Independent Police Review Division. The council will address the proposals Dec. 4 after more study.

Constantin Severe, IPR director, introduced the new proposals, which include: giving the IPR the power to compel officers to answer their questions;  expanding the citizens review committee from nine to 11 members;  allowing the IPR to open cases independently; and releasing more information to the public when officers use force.

“Our strategy is to implement the changes in the Department of Justice agreement that are most urgent,” Severe told city commissioners.

In 2012, a DOJ investigation concluded that the Portland Police Bureau operated with a “pattern or practice” that violated the civil rights of people with mental illness. The blistering report also raised concerns about police relationships with communities of color.

A long line of community organizations and citizens testified at Wednesday’s hearing, most urging council members to go further in strengthening the IPR and the citizens review committee.

READMHAP’s written testimony

“In no way do these recommendations address the depth and breadth of concern felt by citizens in our city,” said Michael Alexander testifying for the Urban League of Portland.

Police Chief Mike Reese introduced Capt. Dave Famous, who discussed graphs showing that both police use of force and police complaints have dropped considerably over the last 10 years.

Lt. Jeff Bell from the police bureau’s internal affairs committee said he opposed the recommendations to allow the IPR to initiate investigations and to compel officer testimony. The system currently allows the IPR to have their questions answered, he said. Changes to the current system would become an issue in negotiating the police contract. Bell and Chief Reese said several changes would be mandatory bargaining items.

“The bureau is not aware of any problems with the current system where the IPR participates in the investigation,” Reese said. “The current system is working very well. The IPR is able to participate in investigations and able to have their questions answered.”

Commissioner Nick Fish said he wanted to clarify if the change would become an issue in contract negotiation since lawyers advising the IPR and the Portland Police Bureau disagree.

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner also raised the question of the rights of police under labor law and the police contract. He urged council members to reject the proposed changes, saying they would undermine the police line of accountability turning it over to civilians.

Jan Friedman, staff attorney with Disability Rights Oregon, said more transparency and accountability is needed to address the concerns raised in the Department of Justice report.

“If they don’t have access to police officers they are not able to do an independent investigation,” she said.

Kayse Jama, executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing, said the changes don’t go far enough.

“We must do more and we must do it now, to achieve justice for the community,” he said.

“The oversight workgroup made 44 recommendations. Only four have been included.”

Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch also said the changes don’t go far enough.

“The changes only add power to the IPR professional staff while delaying changes that would strengthen its Citizen Review Committee,” he said. “IPR similarly pushed through a package of changes in early 2010 with virtually no public input, which led to the formation of an Oversight Stakeholders group. That group put out a report with 41 recommendations, only four of which were incorporated into the ordinance previously and only one more of which is being proposed this time.”

JoAnn Hardesty, of Consult Hardesty and a member of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, said she spoke for herself and not the alliance. She reviewed the history for council members, and reminded them that the settlement with the Department of Justice was far from final, and had been created without public comment.

“The public did not have any opportunity to weigh in,” she said. “We have departments and bureaus operating as if a settlement agreement is in place.”

Portland still faces a federal court case. After the Department of Justice civil rights investigation found the Portland Police Bureau has a “pattern or practice” of excessive force against people with mental illness, the police union challenged items in the settlement agreement with the city.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon ordered the police union, the city and the Justice Department to find a solution through mediation. The Albina Ministerial Alliance was also allowed to participate as community representatives.  So far, the parties have failed to reach an agreement in mediation.

Judge Simon also has said he plans to hold a fairness review next summer so the public can weigh in on the final agreement.

Hardesty said that hearing will be important in deciding the fate of the settlement.

“The community fairness hearing will finally give the community an opportunity to weigh in on the settlement,” she said. And she argued the fall in complaints against officers only proved her point.

“There is a good reason why the number of complaints is down,” she said. “It’s because the community has no confidence that IPR or IA (internal affairs)  has the power to investigate the police.”

Council members, Chief Reese, Severe and others voiced concerns about the 180-day limit on investigations. Reese said many factors could prevent the bureau from sticking to that timeline. He said it should be looked at as a target not a deadline.

Community advocates, on the other hand, worried that the 180-day timeline would allow officers to escape discipline if the timeline was exceeded.

City employee Jeri Williams was one of several people who shared their own frustration with a police accountability process, the DOJ called “Byzantine” and self-defeating.

Williams son, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, had an adverse experience with the police. With tears in her eyes Williams said her experience had left her with “no faith in the process.”

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Stymied by lack of candidates, city hires back police psychologist

Posted by Jenny on 12th October 2013

 
David M. Corey

David M. Corey

After efforts to broaden the pool of applicants for the Portland police psychologist job, the city is poised to sign a three-year contract with the same psychologist who has served the Police Bureau for 13 years and a second psychologist who will do a much smaller number of evaluations.

An ordinance set to go before Portland’s City Council on Wednesday would authorize a three-year, $225,000 contract with David M. Corey to do psychological evaluations of police applicants and evaluations of police candidates once they’re offered a job.

A three-year, $45,000 contract would go to Sherry L. Harden to evaluate the fitness of current officers when there is a concern by the Police Bureau about their ability to perform their jobs and to help evaluate officers up for promotion.

In mid-May, the city issued a request for resumes for police psychologists. The request required candidates to be a psychologist licensed in Oregon with an expertise in clinical testing and personnel evaluation, in particular for public safety jobs.

By June 3, the city received five resumes.

Until now, the City Council has granted or extended Corey’s contract nine times and paid him close to half a million dollars without seeking competitive bids for a decade. When the city did open the contract to bids last year, it was riddled with controversy. The city received only two bids, including one from Corey.

At the time, a community member questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for the same psychologist to perform initial screenings of applicants and fitness-for-duty exams of current officers.

Members of the minority community, as represented by the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Police and Justice Reform, also objected to what they described as Corey’s “monopoly” on the Police Bureau.

While Corey is highly regarded nationally and there’s been no specific problems cited with his work, the coalition members argued he has failed to weed out some officers with a propensity for violence, pointing to last year’s finding by the U.S. Department of Justice that Portland police have engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people with mental illness.

Last year, former Mayor Sam Adams backed away from awarding a five-year contract to Corey, acknowledging the city could have done more to draw a broader pool of bidders. He promised to consult with federal officials on best practices.

Representatives from the Police Bureau, the city’s minority evaluator program and the Albina Ministerial Alliance were involved in this year’s review of the five applicants, according to city records.

Corey is based in Lake Oswego. Harden is based in Beaverton. She also serves as the psychologist for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Hostage Negotiations Team. She has provided services or consultation for the Salem Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, according to her website.

As part of Corey’s new contract, he’ll be required to report twice a year on the pass and fail rates of police applicants he evaluates, based on gender and ethnicity. Every six months, he is to provide a written report to the city on the “progress of the multicultural competency model” and in the training of police psychologists “from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.”

The City Council meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in City Hall.

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Federal judge says he’s ‘inclined’ to set trial on Justice Department findings

Posted by Jenny on 19th July 2013

Since a take-no-prisoners inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice, which found Portland police were engaged in a “pattern or practice” of excessive force against people with mental illness, the City of Portland’s draft settlement agreement has still not been approved in federal court. Justice officials, the Portland police union and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Peace and Justice were court-ordered into arbitration almost half a year ago, and all they’ve managed is an impasse. What’s the holdup? The Portland Police Association, which maintains that our safety and our lives are subject to collective bargaining.

 

The PPA has never met a case of police use-of-force it didn’t like, its president even defending the shocking brutality of James Chasse’s death. The Justice Department’s findings were beyond dispute, its conclusions beyond debate. Judge Michael Simon says he is inclined to hold a trial next summer to determine whether the indisputable has merit in his court.  It is hard to avoid the impression that our value as persons is being horse-traded.

 

For the judge to validate the PPA, he would have to buy into an alternate reality, where police did NOT use deadly force 12 times in a two-year period, and 10 of those were NOT people with mental health issues.  Here in this world, that’s exactly what the DOJ says it was: a pattern or practice where we are the targets.

 

We’ve made our position clear: Zero tolerance.  A cease-fire. Nothing less. Now, again, our lives hang in the judicial balance.  We are not terribly optimistic.

 

–Eds.

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, July 18, 2013
 
A federal judge Thursday said he’s inclined to hold a trial next summer to determine if Portland police engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people with mental illness, if the city, police union and federal investigators can’t reach agreement on a package of reforms.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon did not set a trial date but gave federal justice officials, the city and the police union time to file legal briefs this fall on several issues leading up to trial, such as whether the Portland Police Association should be allowed to defend against the U.S. Department of Justice’s excessive force claims at trial.

Simon urged each party to the case not to lose sight of the seriousness of the federal complaint filed earlier this year against the city that alleges constitutional violations by Portland police.

“I want an early trial date because I do want to move this to conclusion,” Simon said. “There will be a trial on the merits.”

Upon learning of the judge’s position after the hearing Thursday, Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner, said he wasn’t expecting such a delay in resolving the federal justice complaint.

“Summer? Really?” Hales said. “Oy vey.”

Mediation_0001

Simon’s direction came after the city, police union and federal prosecutors declared in June that they had reached an impasse, unable to come to an agreement during mediation on reforms that should be made by the police bureau to address a scathing federal inquiry.

The nearly 15-month inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice found last year that Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.

A settlement agreement between federal investigators and the city, approved by the City Council on Nov. 14, called for widespread changes to Portland police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision, discipline and oversight. It also called for a restructuring of police crisis intervention training and quicker internal inquiries into alleged police misconduct.

Simon said Thursday that he does not believe he has judicial authority to order the city to adopt reforms that may conflict with the police union’s contract, unless he has ruled on the merits of the U.S. Department of Justice’s complaint and finds that the city police did engage in a pattern of excessive force.

“It seems we have to make a judicial determination whether there is or there’s not liability,” Simon said Thursday.

He cited a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in April 2002 – which the Portland police union had raised. That ruling found the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s rights to negotiate the terms and conditions of its officers employment gave the union an interest in a consent decree between the city of Los Angeles and the federal government.

Anil S. Karia, attorney for the Portland Police Association, said the union is supportive of moving ahead to trial and would request the right to intervene as a defendant, allowing the union to defend against the federal justice complaint.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian L. Brown, along with U.S. Department of Justice civil rights attorney Jonas Geissler who participated in Thursday’s hearing via speaker phone from Washington, D.C., said the federal government would object to the union being allowed to defend against the federal excessive force allegations against the city.

“This is not a case against individual members of the police union,” Brown said. “We’ve always seen this as a case against the city.”

Karia acknowledged in court that if the judge found that city police had engaged in excessive force, then the judge would have the power to order the city to adopt reforms, even if they conflicted with the union’s contract.

Oral arguments on whether the union will be able to defend against the excessive force complaints, and any other issues that may arise, is set for Dec. 3.

Deputy City Attorney Ellen Osoinach asked the judge not to set a trial date yet, noting that the city is currently in negotiations with the police union on a new contract that could resolve some of the areas of disagreement. She estimated that the negotiations could last, at the most, another six months.

When the judge asked the city attorney if the city would defend against the federal justice claims of excessive force at a trial, Osoinach replied, “It’s too soon to tell.”

The Portland Police Association contract expired June 30, but its provisions remain in place until a new contract is ratified, the union attorney said.

The police union has argued that changes to police policies, training and oversight underminded the collective bargaining rights of its members. In particular, the union has argued that changes to the bureau’s use of force policy, disciplinary procedures and working conditions needed to be the subject of mandatory bargaining.

Judge Simon earlier this year allowed the police union only to formally intervene in the crafting of reforms.

The federal prosecutor also cautioned against setting a trial date just yet. She said federal justice officials did not anticipate that the settlement agreement would be pending while the union and city of Portland are in contract talks.

“We continue to hold out hope that we’ll get this resolved, without trial,” Brown said after the hearing. “We understand we can’t wait forever.”

Jason Renaud, of the Mental Health Association of Portland, said Thursday he was dismayed by the time it is taking to get a settlement adopted and reforms in place. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” Renaud said.

In other developments, the city, federal officials and the Albina Ministerial Alliance were able to reach an agreement through mediation on concerns the community group had regarding the pending police reform process.

Under the agreement, the alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform will have a role in selecting the proposed “Compliance Officer Community Liaison” and members of the “Community Oversight Advisory Board,” two of the key police oversight roles under the pending settlement. It also requires the city to provide public notice in advance of all meeting times and locations of the Police Bureau’s new Training Advisory Council, the future Community Oversight Advisory Board and the existing Citizen Review Committee and Community/Police Relations Committee.

The agreement goes before Portland City Council on Wednesday.

“The collaborative agreement preserves the AMA Coalition’s role as a zealous advocate for true police reform and ensures the community that the AMA Coalition will be a continuing presence for oversight and accountability in Portland,” the coalition said in a prepared release.

–Maxine Bernstein

Update at 3:43 p.m.: Mayor Charlie Hales issued this statement:

“I am pleased the court provided such clear guidance to all parties regarding next steps in the City’s and U.S. Department of Justice’s draft Settlement Agreement. Both the Justice Department and the public are expecting us to change practices in our Police Bureau. We are doing so, and will continue to do so, because they are the right things to do. I believe that, by setting a potential trial date a year in the future, the court is expressing trust in our continued focus and action. The result will be the same whether commitments are codified in a Settlement Agreement or in City Policy: we will demonstrate continuous commitment to civil rights in the Portland Police Bureau.”

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Mediation stalls in DOJ settlement negotiations

Posted by Jenny on 8th June 2013

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, June 7, 2013

gavelFederal prosecutors and city attorneys have reached an impasse with the Portland police union on reforms that should be made by the police bureau to address a scathing federal inquiry that found officers use excessive force against people with mental illness.

“It’s certainly disappointing that we were unable to resolve the concerns of the union through mediation,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian L. Brown on Friday, after filing a status report in federal court.

READJoint Status Report, June 7, 2013 (PDF, 62KB)

It’s been three months since a federal judge directed the city, federal justice officials and the Portland police union to work out their differences before a mediator. Former Oregon chief justice Paul DeMuniz has served as mediator.

Now, the city of Portland, federal prosecutors and the union are seeking guidance from U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. In a court filing Friday afternoon, they asked the judge to set a hearing in mid-July to determine the next step.

The discussions stem from a nearly 15-month inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice that found last year that Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.

A settlement agreement between federal investigators and the city, approved by the City Council on Nov. 14, called for widespread changes to Portland police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. It also called for a restructuring of police crisis intervention training and quicker internal inquiries into alleged police misconduct.

When the agreement was presented to Judge Simon for review and approval, the police union and the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform sought to intervene in the pending agreement. The union argued that changes to the Portland police policies, training and oversight undermined the collective bargaining rights of its members. In particular, the union argued that changes to the bureau’s use of force policy, disciplinary procedures, and working conditions needed to be the subject of mandatory bargaining.

Simon allowed the Portland Police Association to formally intervene in the crafting of reforms.

With the impasse, the federal judge could send the parties involved back to the table to continue discussions.

Or, he could set court hearing dates for the city, federal prosecutors and the union to address two outstanding questions: Whether the negotiated settlement agreement that the city reached with federal justice officials prejudices the legal rights of police union members? and 2/ If so, does that prevent the court from approving the agreement without holding a trial to determine the merits of the complaint that justice officials filed against the city?

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, declined to comment on the breakdown in talks.

Portland City Attorney James Van Dyke said he’s not terribly surprised.

“I think this is a complex case. There’s a lot of issues outstanding. There are concerns by the union. Anything that’s complicated and affects a lot of people is going to take awhile to work its way through,” he said.

Simon did not grant legal intervention to the alliance but allowed its attorneys to be involved in mediation talks.

Federal prosecutors reported that they’ve made progress addressing the alliance’s concerns about reforms and plan to continue talks with its lawyers. The coalition had argued in legal briefs that the settlement agreement failed to address concerns raised about police use of force against people of color; lacked strict restrictions on police use of Tasers and provided no formal process for court oversight once an agreement is signed.

“We are optimistic that we will resolve AMA’s concerns. We are close,” Brown said Friday.

Brown added that federal officials are pleased the city and Police Bureau has chosen to move ahead with some of the requested reforms, such as training on a new use of force policy and the creation of a specialized Crisis Intervention Team of officers.

“We’re pleased and encouraged that they’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

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Feds, City unable to reach agreement with police union on police reforms

Posted by admin2 on 8th June 2013

From the Oregonian, June 8, 2013

[Eds. Note - Surprise, surprise.]

Federal prosecutors and city attorneys have reached an impasse with the Portland police union on reforms that should be made by the police bureau to address a scathing federal inquiry that found officers use excessive force against people with mental illness.

“It’s certainly disappointing that we were unable to resolve the concerns of the union through mediation,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrian L. Brown on Friday, after filing a status report in federal court.

It’s been three months since a federal judge directed the city, federal justice officials and the Portland police union to work out their differences before a mediator. Former Oregon chief justice Paul DeMuniz has served as mediator.

READ – DOJ v City of Portland settlement mediation Joint Status Report, Adrian Brown – Assistant United States Attorney

Now, the city of Portland, federal prosecutors and the union are seeking guidance from U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. In a court filing Friday afternoon, they asked the judge to set a hearing in mid-July to determine the next step.

After three months of mediation, federal justice officials and city attorneys have failed to "resolve the issues'' raised by the Portland police union regarding reforms that should be made to the police bureau in the wake of a scathing federal inquiry. The inquiry found police have engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people with mental illness. Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, is pictured on left. Police Chief Mike Reese, on the right.

After three months of mediation, federal justice officials and city attorneys have failed to “resolve the issues” raised by the Portland police union regarding reforms that should be made to the police bureau in the wake of a scathing federal inquiry. The inquiry found police have engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people with mental illness. Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, is pictured on left. Police Chief Mike Reese, on the right.

The discussions stem from a nearly 15-month inquiry by the U.S. Department of Justice that found last year that Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.

A settlement agreement between federal investigators and the city, approved by the City Council on Nov. 14, called for widespread changes to Portland police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. It also called for a restructuring of police crisis intervention training and quicker internal inquiries into alleged police misconduct.

When the agreement was presented to Judge Simon for review and approval, the police union and the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform sought to intervene in the pending agreement. The union argued that changes to the Portland police policies, training and oversight undermined the collective bargaining rights of its members. In particular, the union argued that changes to the bureau’s use of force policy, disciplinary procedures, and working conditions needed to be the subject of mandatory bargaining.

Simon allowed the Portland Police Association to formally intervene in the crafting of reforms.

With the impasse, the federal judge could send the parties involved back to the table to continue discussions.

Or, he could set court hearing dates for the city, federal prosecutors and the union to address two outstanding questions: Whether the negotiated settlement agreement that the city reached with federal justice officials prejudices the legal rights of police union members? and 2/ If so, does that prevent the court from approving the agreement without holding a trial to determine the merits of the complaint that justice officials filed against the city?

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, declined to comment on the breakdown in talks.

Portland City Attorney James Van Dyke said he’s not terribly surprised.

“I think this is a complex case. There’s a lot of issues outstanding. There are concerns by the union. Anything that’s complicated and affects a lot of people is going to take awhile to work its way through,” he said.

Simon did not grant legal intervention to the alliance but allowed its attorneys to be involved in mediation talks.

Federal prosecutors reported that they’ve made progress addressing the alliance’s concerns about reforms and plan to continue talks with its lawyers. The coalition had argued in legal briefs that the settlement agreement failed to address concerns raised about police use of force against people of color; lacked strict restrictions on police use of Tasers and provided no formal process for court oversight once an agreement is signed.

“We are optimistic that we will resolve AMA’s concerns. We are close,” Brown said Friday.

Brown added that federal officials are pleased the city and Police Bureau has chosen to move ahead with some of the requested reforms, such as training on a new use of force policy and the creation of a specialized Crisis Intervention Team of officers.

“We’re pleased and encouraged that they’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

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Remember Kendra James at vigil – this Sunday, May 5

Posted by Jenny on 29th April 2013

Kendra James 10 Years Later Memorial Vigil
To Remember Woman Slain by Police in 2003
Sunday, May 5, 2013, 5:00 PM
931 N Skidmore

Kendra James May 5On Sunday, May 5, the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform will lead a memorial vigil for Kendra James, the young woman killed by Officer Scott McCollister exactly 10 years ago on the Skidmore overpass in Portland. The memorial will be held outside the Greater Faith Baptist Church at 931 N Skidmore, just yards away from the spot where McCollister discharged his pistol at James, who was behind the wheel of a car. The vigil will begin at 5 PM. Members of James’ family will be in attendance.

Despite McCollister’s claims that he “feared for his life,” the AMA Coalition presented a detailed analysis that McCollister was not in any danger, knew who the unarmed Kendra James was and could have found her even if she had driven away, and raised serious questions about whether he had collaborated with the other officers on the scene by meeting at a restaurant to get their stories straight before they talked to investigators. McCollister was given 180 days’ suspension,
but that discipline was overturned by an arbitrator after the Portland Police Association grieved the action.

Kendra James

Kendra James

James’ death was a touchstone for many in Portland who saw the shooting of an unarmed African American woman as a symptom of a Police Bureau needing major reforms. In many ways her death led the accountability efforts down the path to the changes now being sought as a remedy by the Department of Justice in their lawsuit against the City.

The event is endorsed by Portland Copwatch and other community organizations. For more information or if your group wishes to endorse, call Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Jr at 503-287-0261.

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