Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

DOJ, PPB to sign agreement over 2006 death

Posted by admin2 on 23rd March 2014

From, March 23, 2014

Eds. note – the headline in this article is inaccurate, but is posted as written. On March 24 Judge Michael Simon will hear further testimony about whether the trial of Department of Justice v City of Portland should proceed. At some point after that hearing Simon will determine whether a trial should proceed. The City of Portland City Council agreed to sign the Agreement in November 2012. There were several other minor inaccuracies in this article which are changed for clarity’s sake.

After the Department of Justice found the Portland Police Bureau had a pattern of using excessive force in dealing with the mentally ill, an agreement over policy changes is expected to be signed on Friday.

But mental health advocates are concerned the agreement doesn’t do enough to prevent incidents from continuing.

In 2006, officers thought James Chasse was urinating in public. When officers approached, he ran away.

The schizophrenic man was then tackled and Tasered, and then died in a police car on the way to the hospital after a nurse at the jail denied police when they tried to drop him off.

The jailhouse video was given to the producer of a documentary on Chasse, ‘Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse’ which will be released on Tuesday. The producer said this case showcases the problems the city of Portland is not addressing.

His mother, Linda Gerber, told KOIN 6 News, “He just didn’t have a fair shake in life like most people do.”

Since Chasse’s death, PPB has taken steps to change, including the creation of a behavioral health unit.

All officers are now given training on how to handle people with mental illness.

“What we’re asking people to do is think about, is this worth chasing someone down for a potentially using force,” PPB Sgt. Pete Simpson told KOIN 6 News.

But mental health advocates and police said there needs to be a safe place for people in with mental illness to go in a crisis.

“The city recognizes through this agreement it may be something they need to do,” Simpson said. “We used to have one at a hospital. It was a crisis triage center, our drop off center for officers. That was very helpful.”

But the agreement states the city should set up a drop-off or walk-in center by mid-2013. There are no signs of that happening.

“I look at the city response or lack of response,” said Chasse’s friend Steve Doughton, “I just say it’s not Jim who’s crazy.”

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More opposition testimony in DOJ v. City of Portland

Posted by admin2 on 26th February 2014

Testimony against the settlement agreement in DOJ v City of Portland, presented the US Judge Michael Simon was strong on February 18.

Both parties – the US Department of Justice and the City of Portland – have agreed to the 100+ items in the agreement.  Judge Simon sought community on the agreement and invited friends of the court to present additional testimony and participate in secret meetings. Two organizations qualified for the status of “amici” or friends of the court, the Portland Police Association – the union for Portland Police Bureau officers, and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform.  The AMA Coalition received “enhanced” status with slightly limited powers.

The Mental Health Association of Portland is a Coalition member, but not privy to the AMA Coalition Steering Committee discussions and not invited to the secret meetings with the parties to the case. A full list of those participants is listed here. No person in those secret discussions has personal or professional experience representing the interests of persons with mental illness.

To get into the secret meetings – which appear to have had no affect on the agreement – Simon made both the parties and the amici promise to keep the content of the meetings secret, and to agree to support the agreement.

Not being a member of the AMA Steering Committee has multiple benefits. Our testimony in opposition to the agreement has been online for a couple of weeks. We’ve also posted testimony in opposition to the agreement from NAMI Multnomah County, and from Kristi Jamison. And though the Portland Police Association gave no testimony during Simon’s “fairness hearing,” their president Daryl Turner did some public griping afterward and we posted something about that.

The DOJ asked Chris Bouneff of NAMI Oregon to testify on behalf of the agreement. The state and county, he said, “are not at the table and there’s nothing to compel them to be at the table to increase the type of services necessary. That element will be missing in this agreement.”

Jo Ann and David Hardesty of Consult Hardesty have collected much of the testimony and shared it on their web site.

Becky Straus, legal director for ACLU of Oregon
Jo Ann A. Hardesty, Principle Partner Consult Hardesty and David Hardesty, Minority Partner Consult Hardesty
Jan Friedman of Disability Rights Oregon
Terri Walker and Sylvia Zingeser of NAMI Multnomah County

Mark Kramer of the National Lawyers Guild

Portland Copwatch – 11 sections formatted to a printable PDF. 
  1. Introduction
    Appealing Findings on Deadly Force Cases
  2. Taser Use and the DOJ Agreement
  3. Accountability– Independent Police Review
  4. Accountability– Citizen Review Committee
  5. Accountability– Police Review Board
  6. Use of Force and the DOJ Agreement
  7. Mental Health Provisions
  8. Training and the DOJ Agreement
  9. Tracking Police Contacts / Demographic Information
  10. Implementation and Transparency
  11. Oversight of the Agreement / ConclusionAdditional Materials /Exhibits

Tom Steenson, civil rights attorney in Campbell v. City of Portland, Chasse v. City of Portland, and Gwerder v. Besner.

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Read key findings of federal report criticizing how Oregon provides community mental health care

Posted by admin2 on 27th January 2014

From the Oregonian, January 23, 2014

A January report stems from a 2012 agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and the state, after federal investigators examined whether Oregon’s community mental health care services complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The investigation followed the federal inquiry of the state hospital.

READ – US DOJ Interim Report to the State of Oregon – PDF
READ – statement by DOJ on failures of OHA – PDF
READ – OHS chief Tina Eklund’s lame response, as prepared for The Oregonian – PDF

The “Interim Report to the State of Oregon” found:

Costs: Care at the Oregon State Hospital runs an estimated $945 a day or about $344,925 a year per person. The state largely bears the costs because Medicaid doesn’t make reimbursements for care at the hospital. Intensive community treatment would cost less, partly because Medicaid applies. The annual cost of supporting someone through Assertive Community Treatment services (teams of psychiatrists, nurses and social workers who provide individualized care) is $15,000 per person. Medicaid would reimburse $9,366, so the costs to Oregon would be $5,634 per person. The annual savings to the state would be $236,286 to $339,361 per person.

More at – Read key findings of federal report criticizing how Oregon provides community mental health care

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OHA chief responds to the USDOJ Interim Report

Posted by admin2 on 27th January 2014

Statement from Tina Edlund, acting director of the Oregon Health Authority, in response to the USDOJ Interim Report to the State of Oregon, January 2014

READ – statement by Edlund as prepared for The Oregonianstatement by DOJ on failures of OHA

READ – statement by DOJ on failures of OHA

The interim report includes USDOJ’s preliminary analysis of the year one baseline data. This data does not reflect the significant investments the Oregon Legislature made in our community mental health system. We expect to see the numbers improve as new programs and services come online in 2014.

The state shares a commitment with USDOJ to ensure people with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) are able to live in the least restrictive setting possible. Our goal is to  provide people with the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

We also share a commitment to getting the best data possible to determine the baseline for the current service level – where we’re at right now – and then, according to the four-year plan outlined in the agreement, we are going to use this data to identify gaps in the system and determine the best way to address those needs. We look forward to working with USDOJ on everything outlined in the report, and we expect to see improvement in the data soon.

While the agreement with USDOJ is for a four-year plan, we didn’t wait to begin making changes. Last summer, Governor Kitzhaber and the Legislature made an unprecedented investment in mental health services, with almost $40 million going to the community mental health system. Then the Legislature invested an additional $20 million during the September special session. Many of these investments will fund services for people with SPMI, such as:

  • Crisis services;
  • Supported housing and peer-delivered services;
  • Supported employment services; and
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).

These investments will focus on creating more services, but they will also fund provider training and technical assistance to help programs establish evidence-based practices that have been proven to help people recover from mental illness. This will augment our existing contracts with two centers of excellence to conduct fidelity reviews and to offer technical assistance to providers of ACT and supported employment.

Since July, the state has moved forward quickly with the new investments, and we’re already well underway. More than $28 million has been awarded so far. We’re on an accelerated timeline, so we expect to see the impact of those investments reflected in the data collected within the next several months.

At the same time, Oregon is reducing its reliance on the state hospital system. Over the past 10 years, the total annual average daily population in the state hospitals has decreased by 19.8 percent, from a high of 784 in 2004 to 629 in 2013.

It is also worth noting that while state hospital population numbers have dropped, the overall population in Oregon has been increasing.

However, our goal is to continue reducing admissions to the state hospital. People should receive the best and most integrated care that will help them get well and stay well. Whenever possible, this care should be in their local communities. That said, just like with any other condition, there will always be times when some individuals need hospital-level care on their road to recovery.

As we move into the second year of our four-year agreement, we look forward to collaborating with USDOJ on the best way to move forward. While we will see faster, more direct results through the community mental health investments, the coordinated care model will have a long-term effect as CCOs work to integrate behavioral and physical health services and establish patient-centered primary care health homes to provide critical community services to people living with SPMI so they are able to live in the most integrated setting possible.

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DOJ Settlement Aims to Improve Mental Health Treatment

Posted by admin2 on 15th March 2013

From The Lund Report, March 15, 2013

The DOJ settlement with the city of Portland requires coordinated care organizations to set up mental health drop-off centers by July, but it’s unclear how they were singled out in the agreement


Last December’s settlement between the Department of Justice and the city of Portland tasked the city and Multnomah County with a host of reforms intended to improve interactions between police and people with mental illness – and to improve access to mental healthcare.

READ – DOJ v City of Portland settlement

Some of the provisions in the yet-to-be-finalized settlement have been identified and, according to DOJ Police Reforms Manager Clay Neal, are already under way. Neal said the bureau has established a behavioral crisis unit and, after expanding crisis intervention training to all officers is looking to offering an enhanced version of that training to other officers.

“It’ll just be more intense. They’ll just be the go-to officers,” Neal said. “They’re people who want to be working in that realm.”

But another section of the settlement is less well-known and has some stakeholders puzzling over next steps and funding – particularly since they aren’t involved in the settlement.

Section V of the settlement outlines goals for creating community-based mental health services, and tasks the coordinated care organizations with a big piece of that: “The United States expects that the local CCOs will establish, by mid-2013, one or more drop-off center(s) for first responders and public walk-in centers for individuals with addictions and/or behavioral health service needs. All such drop off/walk-in centers should focus care plans on appropriate discharge and community based treatment options, including assertive community treatment teams, rather than unnecessary hospitalization.”

The settlement also says that CCOs should create addictions and mental health-focused subcommittees, which will include representatives from the police bureau’s addictions and behavioral health unit, the unit’s advisory board, Portland Fire and Rescue and the Bureau of Emergency Communications.

Neal called that section “aspirational” and not binding to the city, and said city staff is participating in mental health workgroups with staff from the coordinated care organizations. Because these drop-in centers are not required, they will have no impact on the city’s budget deficit.

It’s also still an open question as to why the coordinated care organizations are actually part of the settlement since they were in their infancy when that agreement was reached in December. Neither Multnomah County nor the Oregon Health Authority participated in those settlement talks, he said.

Most of the recommendations in the settlement were negotiated, Neal said, with representatives from the city and the Department of Justice.

“Looking at the issue of police involvement with mental illness, a drop-off facility was one of the primary recommendations,” Neal said. “It wasn’t new ideas that were coming through the agreement. The process involved a lot of looking at what research has been done.”

Several workgroups have already been convened by Health Share of Oregon to strengthen the mental health system, said Beth Sorensen, communications manager. Deborah Friedman also begins her role as director of behavioral services in April.

“Health Share’s efforts are aimed at reducing the number of transports to avoid the need for a new drop-off center,” Sorensen said. “However, if the outcome of our work groups and our grant-funded initiatives indicates a need for that type of center, then not only Health Share, but Family Care and the county mental health authority would also be part of creating that type of facility.”

The settlement has yet to be finalized – as the mediation process between the DOJ, the Albina Ministerial Alliance and the Portland Police Association is still ongoing.

Last fall U. S. Department of Justice report said what mental health advocates had been saying for years: the Portland Police Bureau disproportionately and excessively applies force against people with mental illnesses.

The settlement is the result of an investigation begun in June 2011 and concluded last fall about the Portland Police Bureau’s use of force. That investigation determined that incidents involving the use of force disproportionately involved people with mental health diagnoses, as highlighted by several use-of-force cases in recent years, including the death of James Chasse, Jr., a lifelong Portland resident who died in police custody in 2006, several hours after an incident where several of his ribs were broken, prompting three lawsuits. Following the 2010 death of Aaron Campbell, who was unarmed and distraught over his brother’s death, former Mayor Sam Adams asked the federal government to investigate the bureau’s use of force.

Alien Boy, a documentary film about Chasse’s life and death, just wrapped a two-week run at Cinema 21 in Portland and is now playing at the Living Room Theater in Portland.

Most recently, Merle Hatch, who was shot by Portland police after a confrontation at Adventist Hospital, was described as struggling with addiction for most of his adult life, and Santiago Cisneros, who died March 4after a shootout with two officers in Northeast Portland, had received treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In an open letter to the DOJ released by the Mental Health Association of Portland last fall, its authors noted that people experiencing mental illness often do not respond well to authoritative commands – and that incidents of police brutality are the result of a system that fails to dismiss officers with a history of violence, but also fails to provide treatment options to head off acute episodes of mental illness.

“Without worthwhile treatment resources, acute illness is a predictable, routinely experienced complication of many illnesses,” the statement said. “For us, inability to respond to police immediately or typically can provoke an escalation in tactics that too often results in injury or death. While the settlement agreement does address treatment deficiencies, it is mainly responsive to the convenience of police, not the expressed needs of our community.”

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AMA Coalition files court papers to intervene in city-DOJ negotiated settlement on police reforms

Posted by admin2 on 8th January 2013

From The Oregonian, January 7, 2013

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Tuesday afternoon filed a motion in federal court to intervene in the city agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice governing Portland police reforms.

Eds. Note: The motion for intervention was filed by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform – not the Albina Ministerial Alliance. The AMA Coalition is a project of the AMA, but also includes other organizations and individuals which are not members of the AMA, including Disabity Rights Oregon, the Oregon chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, the Mental Health Association of Portland, and Portland Copwatch which is a project of Peace and Justice Works.

The alliance seeks to intervene as a plaintiff in the pending case United States of America v. City of Portland.

READ – Memorandum in support of AMA motion to intervene, 21 pages (PDF)
READ – Declaration of Dr. LeRoy Haynes iso AMA motion to intervene, 6 pages (PDF)
READ – Intervenor-plaintiff AMA Coalition’s motion to intervene, 2 pages (PDF)
READ – Officer-involved shootings and other in-custody deaths by the Portland Police Department, 2000-2011, Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition, 31 pages (PDF)

The alliance argued that the settlement agreement failed to address concerns raised about police use of force against people of color; lacks strict restrictions on police use of Tasers and provides no formal process for court oversight once an agreement is signed.

“Thus it is critical that an intervener representing the public’s interests be part of this process,” attorneys J. Ashlee Albies and Shauna Curphey wrote in a motion on behalf of the alliance.

The alliance is a group of 125 Portland-area churches that has been engaged in social justice work since the 1970s. The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform was founded in 2003 after the officer-involved fatal shooting of Kendra James.

“The AMA Coalition, with its diversity and deep roots in the communities most affected by the Portland Police Bureau’s excessive use of force against people with mental illness and persons of color, and long history of police reform advocacy in Portland is best suited to represent the interests of the community as an intervenor,” the attorneys wrote in a memorandum in support of its motion.

The Albina Ministerial Alliance submitted to the court a chart of shootings over the past decade. Its research found that at least 30 percent of the 61 people shot at or killed by Portland police were people of color, in a city that is almost 79 percent white. Of those 61 people, 14, or 23 percent were African American, according to the Alliance’s court filing. Twenty-two of the 61 people, or 36 percent, were unarmed, according to the alliance’s analysis.

Tuesday was the deadline for any person or group to file a motion to intervene in the case.

The Portland Police Association is the other group to have sought such intervention.

The U.S. Department of Justice and City of Portland have until Jan. 22 to respond to the motions.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon will hold a hearing Feb. 19 to rule on them.

The court filings stem from the U.S. Department of Justice’s nearly 15-month investigation into use of force by Portland police. The inquiry found police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.

The settlement, approved by the City Council on Nov. 14, calls for widespread changes to Portland police policies on use of force, Tasers, training, supervision and oversight. A community liaison official would be hired to oversee the agreement, under the settlement. A federal judge would maintain jurisdiction over the agreement, and could be asked to intervene if the agreement is not followed.

The Portland Police Association also has filed a motion to intervene. In court papers filed last month, the police union argues that the negotiated changes to Portland police policies and procedures undermine the collective bargaining rights of union members.

The union cited a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case that allowed the Los Angeles Police Protective League to intervene in a consent decree before the federal court on Los Angeles police reforms in 2002.

Members of the public will be able to participate in a so-called “fairness hearing” before the federal judge at a future time to express their opinions on whether the negotiated settlement is “fair, adequate and reasonable.” No date has been set for that public hearing.

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Letter from Bob Joondeph of the Disability Rights Organization

Posted by admin2 on 21st December 2012


On Dec. 17, USDOJ filed suit against the City of Portland under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act alleging that city’s police have acted with excessive force against persons with (or perceived to have) mental illness. This follows the negotiation between the USDOJ and City of a Settlement Agreement. Terms of the Agreement include the filing of this action and its dismissal pending the performance of its other provisions.

The next day, the Portland Police Association moved to intervene as a matter of right under FRCP 24(a), or, in the alternative, to intervene permissively under FRCP 24(b).

This morning (the 21st) Judge Michael Simon held a Status Conference in his courtroom. He gave the USDOJ an extension of time to respond to the Motion to Intervene and set out how he plans to proceed with the case. Here’s what he said.

The Court’s role is to determine whether this settlement agreement is fair, just, and consistent with the public interest as determined by Congress. While class action settlements require a Fairness Hearing, a case of this sort does not. However, the Court has the discretion to hold a Fairness Hearing nonetheless. In this case, he believes a Fairness Hearing to be appropriate.

He said that everyone concerned will have an opportunity to be heard. He will allow anyone to submit written comments to the court, will hold hearings when the public can conveniently attend, even if that requires evenings or weekends, and is open to all suggestions about how the process can be as open as possible. He will also have a “clearinghouse” established so that anyone can review the written comments, motions, or other documents submitted.

He set the following deadlines:

Jan. 8: Any further motions to intervene will be considered “timely” if filed by this date.
Jan 22: Responsive memoranda to Motions to Intervene are due. Also, all comments on how to conduct the Fairness Hearing and public input process are due.
Feb. 5: Deadline for replies in Support of Motions to Intervene.
Feb 19: Hearing on all motions. (9 AM).

This will be covered in the news, but it’s important to spread the word that anyone can be involved who wants to be.

Happy Holidays!
Bob Joondeph
Executive Director
Disability Rights Oregon

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Portland police union leader says officers are reluctant to use force and are getting injured because of DOJ agreement

Posted by admin2 on 25th November 2012

From the Oregonian, November 21, 2012

Portland police officers are getting hurt during encounters with suspects because they doubt police brass, in light of a federal justice inquiry, will support them if they use the amount of force they deem appropriate, the police union president said.

Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association

Officer Daryl Turner, who leads the Portland Police Association, said he’s addressing officers at precinct roll calls with this message: “Take care of yourselves. Protect yourselves. Remember, Department of Justice officials are not professional police officers. You are.”

Turner’s remarks offer the first detailed look at how the rank-and-file are responding to the city’s negotiated settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The agreement calls for reforms to Portland police policies, training and oversight. It stems from federal investigators’ findings in September that Portland police engaged in a pattern of excessive against people suffering from, or perceived as suffering from, mental illness.

In recent weeks, several officers have had to be treated at local hospitals, including one who required stitches for a head wound after struggling with a suspect who pulled a dagger on police.

The union, in particular, has criticized the chief’s proposed changes to bureau use of force and Taser policies.

The draft policies say officers must recognize that people in mental health crisis require a “specialized response,” and officers must ensure confrontations are resolved with as little force as practical.

The policies stress the need to de-escalate encounters and resolve problems “with less force than the maximum allowed.” The bureau also expects officers to justify each use of force, noting that police can face discipline for unreasonable use of force.

“It’s giving the officers cause for pause, because they’re thinking in their mind about the DOJ,” Turner said, “and they don’t think they’re going to get the support of their leaders.”

“What these policies do is make a dangerous job more difficult,” Turner added.

Dave Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said no one wants to see officers injured. But Fidanque thinks Turner is jumping to conclusions.

“I think taking a couple of incidents and trying to draw a general conclusion from them is pretty dangerous,” Fidanque said. “You’re never going to eliminate all possibility of injuries either to officers or suspects.”

He said Turner’s “protect yourselves” remarks at roll-calls revealed a “shade of the thin blue line” and a belief that only police can judge their actions.

In contrast, Fidanque applauded the bureau for drafting new use of force standards, saying it shows the bureau is taking steps toward “trying to avoid injuries to everyone involved.”

Multiple officers were hospitalized for injuries in the last month.

On Oct. 30, for example, Officer John Billard suffered two broken ribs, a bruised lung and head wound requiring five staples after a man pulled a dagger and shoved officers. Police had confronted the man as part of an investigation into a possible drug offense or car prowl downtown.

On Nov. 12, a 41-year-old man was arrested, accused of knocking Officer Jakhary Jackson in the back of the head with a glass beer mug when the officer warned him not to jaywalk. The blow knocked Jackson to the ground. He required three staples for a head injury.

On Nov. 18, officers investigating a silent alarm at a North Portland dental office confronted a suspect by the building who appeared intoxicated. When the man refused to remove his hands from his pockets, three officers grabbed his arms, and a struggle ensued. The suspect swung a fist at one officer and kicked another in the chest when he was placed in a patrol car.

In the wake of the violent skirmishes, Portland Police Chief Mike Reese sent out a video message, telling officers that their safety is his top priority.

“I know you are keenly aware of the Department of Justice settlement discussions and have concerns about what that means to our policies, training and practices surrounding use of force,” Reese said in the video. “I want you to know that I support your daily work in the tough situations that officers respond to and the need to use reasonable force to take people into custody or to keep our community safe.”

The police union president dismissed the chief’s Nov. 8 video as falling short.

“They don’t need that,” Turner said recently. “They need their chief of police to give them some direction.”

Until the federal agreement is signed in U.S. District Court, Turner said, the chief needs to be clear with officers: Will their actions be judged based on their current training and policies, or based on the city’s agreement with federal justice officials, and drafts of revised police force and Taser policies?

On the same day Reese put out his video, Turner complained in a police union newsletter that the city reached its agreement with the Justice Department without input from officers. Because the changes affect discipline and officer safety, Turner argued, they must be negotiated with the union.

“The PPA will take all necessary steps to preserve its collective bargaining rights,” Turner wrote on Nov. 8.

Mayor Sam Adams, who serves as police commissioner, said he had anticipated the union’s demand to bargain, and the city is prepared to discuss any union request.

Fidanque said he thinks officers have a legitimate need for “clearer guidance on what they should or cannot do.”

“What I hope officers will take away from the DOJ agreement is, there’s an opportunity for officers and the leadership of the bureau and the public to all get on the same page,” Fidanque said, “so officers will know that when they act, they’ll have the community’s support.”

City Attorney James Van Dyck said he’s awaiting word from federal justice officials on exactly when they plan to file the negotiated settlement in court, which city officials hoped would happen by years-end. The bureau also has been seeking public input on its policy changes.

“We got a lot of comments in. We’re taking a lot at those,” VanDyck said. “My guess is there will be further revisions.”

Turner said he shared his concerns with the chief and city attorney on Tuesday. “We’re cautiously optimistic our concerns were heard.”

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