Mental Health Association of Portland

Oregon's independent and impartial mental health advocate

City Challenge to Annual Court Hearings Jeopardizes DOJ Agreement

Posted by admin2 on 30th May 2014

Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform
c/o Allen Temple 4236 NE 8th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97211


The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform (AMAC) strongly condemns the City of Portland’s refusal to agree to annual status hearings on the Settlement Agreement with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). The Court has indicated that, absent such hearings the Court will reject the Agreement. The City’s refusal to participate in the proposed annual hearings — in which the Court’s authority is limited to receiving information and merely asking questions of the parties — is unjustified, and is a clear rejection of the Court’s continued authority over this case.

The City has spent countless resources negotiating the Agreement with the DOJ to resolve the DOJ’s lawsuit alleging the Police Bureau (PPB) engaged in a pattern or practice of using excessive force on individuals with actual or perceived mental illness, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Shortly after the suit was filed, the City joined the DOJ in asking the Court to enter an order approving the Settlement Agreement and to conditionally dismiss the litigation pending the City’s implementation of the Agreement.

The AMAC, granted enhanced /amicus curie/ status in the lawsuit, has worked in good faith to support the entry of the Settlement Agreement, despite concerns with the Agreement itself. The AMAC participated in mediation with all parties, resulting in a Collaborative Agreement with the City and the DOJ in which it agreed not to object to entry of the Agreement. Likewise, the Portland Police Association (PPA), which was granted intervener status, entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City and the DOJ, in which it too agreed to withdraw its objections.

In a March 24, 2014 hearing, the Court indicated that while the Agreement was substantively fair, adequate, and reasonable, it did not find it to be _procedurally_ adequate. Specifically, the Court expressed concern that, once the Agreement was entered, more than three years would lapse before it heard from the City and the DOJ regarding its implementation. The Court therefore proposed annual hearings, at which the parties would report to the Court on the implementation of the Agreement. The City and PPA will not agree to participate in these annual hearings.

The AMAC has grave concerns regarding the City’s and PPA’s refusal to participate in annual hearings, despite their knowing this may result in the rejection of the Agreement. “The Community wants to see the Court’s limited oversight over the implementation of this Agreement. The symbolism of the parties appearing in Court just once a year before a neutral and consistent observer, to give a status update, demonstrates the parties’ commitment to transparency, and to the checks and balances of our system of government,” said Dr. LeRoy Haynes, co-chair of the AMAC. “The limited review on the status of compliance sought by the Court should be welcomed by the City, given the City’s assertion that it is already in compliance and on track with the implementation of the Agreement,” said Dr. T. Allen Bethel, co-chair of the AMAC.”The City has been operating under the expectation that the Agreement will be entered; it makes no sense to negate all the work that went into negotiating and implementing the Agreement by rendering it unenforceable,” Dr. Bethel said.

The City’s refusal to agree to the hearings, now requires that the parties submit further briefing on the issue to the Court. The AMAC sincerely hopes the City will reconsider its untenable position, before spending more of the public’s resources litigating a case involving the excessive use of force against the most vulnerable members of our community. “The failure of the Mayor, the city commissioners, and the PPA to accept Judge Michael Simon limited annual review represents a missed historical opportunity to unite our diverse communities and take a leap in resolving the rift in our city between the police and the community, particularly communities of color and person with mental disabilities,” added Rev. Haynes.

The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is working toward these five goals:
1. A federal investigation by the Justice Department to include criminal and civil rights violations, as well as a federal audit of patterns and practices of the Portland Police Bureau.
2. Strengthening the Independent Police Review Division and the CitizenReview Committee with the goal of adding power to compel testimony.
3. A full review of the Bureau’s excessive force and deadly force policies and training with diverse citizen participation for the purpose of making recommendations to change policies and training.
4. The Oregon State Legislature narrowing the language of the State statute for deadly force used by police officers.
5. Establishing a special prosecutor for police excessive force and deadly force cases.

Federal justice officials, city of Portland can’t agree on judge’s request for annual hearings on police reforms

From The Oregonian, May 28, 2014

Two months after a federal judge told Portland city attorneys and federal justice officials that’s he not likely to approve their negotiated settlement on police reforms without requiring annual status hearings in his court, the parties to the case haven’t accepted the idea.

“Unfortunately at this time, we’re not able to report we have reached an agreement,” said Michelle Jones, attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division.

Jones and attorneys for the city, the Portland Police Association and the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform spoke by phone to the judge during a brief conference Friday afternoon.

Deputy city attorney Ellen Osoinach echoed Jones’ report to U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon.

The judge gave the attorneys until June 24 to submit legal briefs outlining their positions on his request and until July 2 to submit any responses to the initial briefs filed.

Simon said he doesn’t anticipate hearing any further oral arguments and intends to issue a written ruling sometime after July 2 whether he’ll accept the negotiated settlement on Portland police reforms.

The court’s involvement stems from a Justice Department investigation in 2012 that found Portland police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people with mental illness or perceived to have mental illness. The investigation also found that police use of stun guns was unjustified and excessive at times. A negotiated agreement calls for changes to Portland policies, training and oversight. Federal and city officials are seeking the judge’s acceptance of the agreement without a trial.

In April, the parties to the case returned to the judge and offered an alternative to his idea: annual hearings before Portland’s City Council. The judge quickly shot that idea down, saying that would be insufficient.

Simon on Friday reiterated why he wants to hear in his courtroom each year on the progress of the reforms from either the city, federal officials, the police union, the Albina Ministerial Alliance or the person who is hired as the city’s community liaison officer.

The agreement is expected to extend for at least three years.

“I want to make sure either we’re proceeding apace and making good progress towards implementation – or if there was a problem, I’d want to hear about it sooner than later,” Simon said.

City attorneys in the past have questioned the judge’s authority to hold annual hearings.

In March, Simon said he didn’t want to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, as requested by the two main parties. That would mean that the suit would be over and no one could bring it back to court. At the time, he said he’d prefer to place a hold, or a “stay” on the case and require at least yearly status hearings in open federal court, he said.

Federal officials told the judge in March that the parties are opposed to a hold on the lawsuit. If a stay was then lifted, they argued, it would “reinvigorate the case,” and the U.S. government doesn’t want to keep the suit in litigation.

Instead, they suggested the court might conditionally dismiss the lawsuit, with the requirement that annual status hearings be held before the court that are limited in scope but would allow for continued oversight. In essence, the lawsuit would be placed on the court’s inactive docket until the Justice Department returns to the court with a motion to dismiss the case once there’s substantial compliance with the reforms.

Simon Friday said he’d only agree to “conditionally dismiss” the lawsuit if all parties to the case, and the city’s community liaison, would agree that they’d appear yearly in his court to discuss the reforms’ progress.

The Rev. T. Allen Bethel, co-chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s coalition, said he was disappointed and disturbed by the refusal of the city and other parties to the case to agree to annual court status hearings. The community coalition had asked to intervene in the case and the judge allowed the group limited status.

He issued this statement Friday:

“The limited review on the status of compliance sought by the Court should be welcomed by the City, given the City’s assertion that it is already in compliance and on track with the implementation of the Agreement. The City has been operating under the expectation that the Agreement will be entered; it makes no sense to negate all the work that went into negotiating and implementing the Agreement by rendering it unenforceable.”

And, the Rev. LeRoy Haynes, co-chair of the AMA coalition, said:

“The failure of the Mayor, the city commissioners, and the PPA to accept Judge Michael Simon’s limited annual review represents a missed historical opportunity to unite our diverse communities and take a leap in resolving the rift in our city between the police and the community, particularly communities of color and persons with mental disabilities.”

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Judge Simon, unimpressed with idea of dismissing lawsuit, or of unmonitored agreement, gives parties two more weeks to get it right

Posted by Jenny on 25th March 2014

The Skanner, March 25, 2014

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon

A final decision on the proposed settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the City of Portland has been pushed back to April 14.

At the hearing, reported in The Oregonian, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon said he wanted an annual review of progress on the agreement, designed to resolve a finding that Portland Police Bureau had violated the rights of people with mental illness.

Simon told the parties he did not want to end the federal lawsuit against the city immediately. Instead he told the court he favored putting it on hold and requiring annual progress reports. According to The Oregonian, Simon told the court:

“I am not satisfied with the prospect that three-and-a-half years can go by with the court hearing absolutely nothing on how substantial compliance is progressing.”

Lawyers for the city and the Justice Department had asked Simon to dismiss the suit and accept the settlement. And they raised concerns that if the judge did not dismiss the case, the settlement would be open to challenge, from the police union.

Simon allowed the parties two weeks to find a solution that would allow for the annual progress reports to the court.

Rev. LeRoy Haynes from the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, said advocates are pleased that the judge intends to remain involved.

“Judge Simon will have an opportunity to raise concerns and questions at these annual reviews,” he said. “Having Judge Simon continue giving oversight will add strength to the agreement, and allow for correcting any problems.”

Haynes said the coalition will continue to play a role through the five years, reporting its view on progress or problems to the judge.

“We think the hearings are essential to the fulfillment of the agreement and to further plans to change the culture of the police bureau as well as its policies and procedures,” Haynes said.

He said he hopes citizens will tell city commissioners that the annual review is important.

Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch said he would have liked to see changes to the agreement that reflected concerns raised by the community at a Feb. 18 and 19 court hearing. And he welcomed the annual review.

“Otherwise the community is shut out of this process.”

A community advisory board will be created, he said but the Department of Justice is the monitor.

“We were originally hoping for the Compliance Officer Community Liaison’s quarterly reports to go to the judge,” Handelman said. “But something is better than nothing and it looks as if we’re heading to something.

“There’s tremendous potential for things to get better, but I’m still skeptical,” Handelman said.

Next steps for the agreement:

  • City attorneys will report back to Portland City Council.
  • The parties will return to court April 14, probably with an agreement that will include the annual report to Judge Simon.
  • The city will hire a Compliance Officer Community Liaison. Applications are currently under consideration.

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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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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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Clackamas County offers mental health services after mall shooting

Posted by admin2 on 13th December 2012

From Fox 12 Oregon

Clackamas County has people willing to listen if you are facing traumatic thoughts following Tuesday’s deadly shooting at the Clackamas Town Center.

County health workers encourage anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or traumatic stress to call the Clackamas County Crisis Line at 503-655-8585.

Experts say traumatic stress is a normal response to an abnormal situation affected by the body’s effort to make meaning out of a senseless act.

Mild symptoms of traumatic stress can be helped by maintaining healthy routines like spending time with family and friends, exercise, good nutrition and hydration. If symptoms of stress interfere with daily routines, it can be useful to seek help from a mental health clinician or family doctor.

Getting assistance or information early can often prevent symptoms from getting worse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any troubling symptoms or stress or a potential mental health crisis, again, call the hotline at 503-655-8585.

If you are not experiencing a crisis but would like to talk to a peer counselor, call the David Romprey Warm Line at 1-800-698-2392.

Clackamas County’s Centerstone Clinic also provides urgent mental health walk-in services. It is located in the Rose Center near the Clackamas Town Center at 11211 SE 82nd Ave., Suite O, Happy Valley.

The clinic is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information go to the clinic’s website.

Mall shooting will impact community’s mental health

The Clackamas Town Center shootings Tuesday will have a lasting impact on the mental health of the region’s residents, mental health professionals say.

Tuesday’s rampage by 22-year-old Jacob Tyler Roberts left two dead and directly touched the 10,000 people estimated to be in the 1.37-million-square-foot Happy Valley shopping center.

In the short term, people directly exposed to the violence will experience trauma. That will spread to the community as more information is released, said Mark Lewinsohn, vice president for clinical services at LifeWorks Northwest, a Portland nonprofit providing mental health and other services throughout the region.

Christopher Krenk, president and CEO of Albertina Kerr

Christopher Krenk, president and CEO of Albertina Kerr

In the longer run, Lewinsohn said the jarring images could affect the public’s sense of safety, particularly in large, enclosed malls.

“It could have an effect on the willingness to go to large shopping malls,” he said.

But on a positive note, Lewinsohn said Tuesday’s events could have a unifying effect on the community and the agencies that work with people in crisis.

“It makes us look at our crisis response systems,” he said. “It kind of gives us all a chance to regroup and make sure that our systems are working and that we communicate.”

Christopher Krenk, president and CEO of Albertina Kerr, watched news of the shootings on CNN while representing CareOregon at a health care conference in Florida. The nonprofit Albertina Kerr supports people with mental health challenges as well as developmental disabilities.

Krenk said the Oregon delegation spoke of little else over dinner.

Krenk speculated — correctly — that the killer would prove to be a young man, following the pattern of other seemingly random shootings.

The transition into adulthood can be rocky, he said, citing Albertina Kerr’s work to help those with intellectual disabilities ease into adulthood.

“It supports the notion that we should support our mental health services,” he said. “To the extent that the community funds and supports people who are struggling, we generate better outcomes.”

Clackamas Town Center shooting: Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon responds

By Nancy Haught, The Oregonian, Dec. 12, 2012

Rev. LeRoy Haynes, President of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

Rev. LeRoy Haynes, President of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

Rev. LeRoy Haynes, President of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

The president of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Rev. LeRoy Haynes, issued a statement today after Tuesday’s shooting at Clackamas Town Center. Three people, including the alleged gunman, died and one teenager has been hospitalized.

The statewide association of churches “laments” the shooting “in the midst of the season of hope and joy,” said Haynes, who is senior pastor of Allen Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Northeast Portland.

Haynes addressed the question on many people minds: Why did this happen?

“Causes of these tragedies can be complex, including lack of resources to recognize and treat mental illness, easy availability of military-grade weapons, and the culture of violence permeating our society,” he said.

“At this time in our society, we must be willing to tackle these hard issues together in order to foster healing and help prevent future tragedies.”

The remainder of the statement reads:

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon calls upon all houses of worship to pray for the victims’ families and loved ones, and for the perpetrator’s family who are suffering now.

We give thanks for the police, emergency professionals, and mall staff for their courage and quick response, making clear that we will not be paralyzed by fear in the face of sudden violence.

We also acknowledge the importance of pastoral care and mental health services for all those impacted by this tragedy, and we give thanks for everyone who is part of the healing process.

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Disciplining Portland police proves challenging task

Posted by admin2 on 15th July 2012

In the past three decades, Portland police chiefs have fired officers who were convicted of driving drunk off duty, leaving dead animals outside a black-owned business, and selling “Smoke ‘Em, Don’t Choke ‘Em” T-shirts to officers after a man died in police custody from a neck hold.

The chiefs had to bring them all back.

More recently, an arbitrator overturned the firing of Officer Ron Frashour for fatally shooting an unarmed man [Aaron Campbell] in the back; the 80-hour suspensions for Officer Chris Humphreys and Sgt. Kyle Nice following the death of James P. Chasse Jr.; and the 900-hour suspension of Officer Scott McCollister for his actions leading up to his fatal shooting of Kendra James.

READ – What happened to Aaron Campbell
READ – What happened to James Chasse
READ – Stories including mention of Kendra James

So just what does it take to discipline a Portland police officer?

Frankly, if push comes to shove and it goes to arbitration, you can’t do it.

Police leaders complain that they can’t effectively manage their work force when decisions are second-guessed and overturned.

Police union representatives say the percentage of discipline cases they challenge is small. And they’re right; in the past 10 years, 12 discipline cases in the nearly 1,000-member police force ended up in arbitration. An arbitrator overturned the discipline in half; the others await a hearing or a ruling.

But the cases that reach arbitration usually are high profile and involve the most egregious conduct, tactics leading to the use of deadly force or, in Frashour’s case, the use of such force. They tend to be those that reflect most poorly on the agency and anger the public, which seeks accountability for bad actors.

The result of repeated rulings overturning discipline has left those responsible for trying to command the largest municipal police force in Oregon feeling powerless.

“It’s frustrating. It’s very hard to lead an organization like that,” said Brian Martinek, a former Vancouver police chief who served as an assistant chief in Portland during the Chasse case and Frashour’s shooting of Aaron Campbell.

Once discipline comes down, union leaders frequently are in command staff’s faces, he said, taunting that, “We’re just going to kick your butt anyways, like we always have.”

The Oregonian reviewed 14 Portland police arbitration decisions since 1981 and found that discipline usually was overturned because either the bureau did a shoddy investigation or the arbitrator picked apart a chief’s decision with a grab-bag of objections: Similar misconduct by officers in the past hadn’t drawn such discipline, police policies were unclear or none governed the alleged misconduct, bureau instructors testified that an officer had acted as trained, or the officer had a prior clean record.

Darrel W. Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, said Portland’s experience is not unique.

“Quite frankly, arbitrators find it very difficult to take the police officer’s livelihood away,” said Stephens, who served as chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and teaches at Johns Hopkins University’s Public Safety Leadership Program. “The unions may win these things, but they’re not helping the organization. The community loses confidence in the police, and within the department, it undermines the whole process of discipline.”

Portland’s police union lawyers say the rank-and-file accept most discipline, and the union takes only strong cases to an arbitrator when it’s clear an officer was wronged. Further, they say many serious discipline cases don’t stand up because they were politically motivated.

“I grant you, it’s not the perception of the public” said Will Aitchison, who served as Portland Police Association lawyer for 32 years, “but the fact is, it is very rare to find the city’s police union challenging a police termination.”

Mark Iris, who served for 21 years as executive director of the Chicago Police Board and has written about arbitration rulings in Chicago and Houston, said he’d expect serious discipline — which has gone through several layers of review, including grand jury, criminal and internal inquiries — to be upheld once it got to arbitration in at least 75 to 80 percent of cases. But that’s not happening nationally.

Over time, he said, such reversals can have a “corrosive effect” on an agency’s disciplinary process, “erode the deterrent value of discipline” and cause the public to lack confidence in the ability of an agency to control its people.

One need only look at the remarks of the Rev. LeRoy Haynes, chairman of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, who helped lead a protest outside City Hall after an arbitrator ordered Frashour back on the force.

“This decision says that those who are elected, that they cannot hold police officers in this city accountable,” he bellowed from City Hall’s steps. “It says any police officer can do what they want to do. … It means we cannot trust our police department.”

The arbitrator’s ruling that dismissed former Chief Mark Kroeker‘s 900-hour suspension of McCollister reads as a template for how arbitration has worn down Portland police discipline. The litany of reasons for overturning the suspension have popped up in multiple Portland arbitration decisions since. Kroeker had ruled McCollister should not have put himself in such a precarious position by reaching into a moving car to try to stop Kendra James from driving off, only to fatally shoot her in 2003.

Kroeker testified that he recognized the unusually long suspension was “ground-breaking” in the bureau, and said he issued it to “send a message to the officer and to the organization” that McCollister’s tactics were faulty, and led to the use of deadly force.

“Policing is the kind of profession where the employer must be able to exercise its subjective judgment in making disciplinary decisions; so long as that subjective judgment is exercised in good faith, the arbitrator should not second guess the disciplinary decisions and sanctions imposed,” Kroeker argued.

But the union quickly cited two cases in which officers had reached into moving vehicles without facing such harsh discipline.

One involved a highly respected officer, Mike Stradley, who climbed entirely into a moving van to take a suspect into custody and ended up firing his Taser while the van was traveling 80 mph through a city neighborhood. A written reprimand was proposed. The other case involved then-Officer Jim Lawrence, who shot and killed a suspect while reaching into the open window of a moving van and being dragged. He received no discipline.

The McCollister discipline was further derailed because no internal affairs investigation was ever done. Instead, the bureau relied solely on the detectives’ criminal inquiry, which the union pointed out was contrary to past practice. For a final blow, all the bureau training instructors testified that McCollister had acted as trained, and no policy existed then that restricted an officer from reaching in to a moving vehicle.

Sound familiar?

Once McCollister’s suspension was reversed, the arbitrator ordered the city to make McCollister whole not only for his back pay, but also include 1.88 hours of overtime for each week he was suspended. The union said the city must compensate him for what he “would have earned.”

“The arbitrator can always find an excuse that on its face looks potentially plausible,” Iris said.

Stephens said arbitrators can’t expect agencies to have a policy for every conceivable act of misconduct. “Some of it just has to be about common sense,” he said.

Aitchison counters that chiefs can’t discipline officers based on a standard of conduct that’s not trained. “Cops just want to know what the rules are,” he said.

Typically, only the union can decide to challenge an officer’s discipline before an arbitrator; officers can’t do so on their own. The union’s executive board votes and a majority rules. A list of arbitrators is sent to the city and union, and each side alternately strikes names off the list; the last name remaining gets the assignment.

Critics say arbitrators are well aware that if they routinely side with management, the union won’t pick them again, or vice-versa.

“The last one left standing gets the commission, gets the job,” Iris said. “I think arbitrators rein themselves in so they’re chosen the next time.”

Observers also note that Aitchison, a nationally recognized police labor attorney, historically has run circles around city attorneys.

“In many places that’s true,” Iris said. “The attorney for the union is savvy, experienced and capable, and the city lawyers are vastly overmatched.”

To make sure discipline issued by police managers is not arbitrary but consistent and fair, police consultants have recommended agencies adopt what’s called a disciplinary matrix. It would set disciplinary guidelines for a variety of violations or misconduct, intended to give officers and police managers a sense of what to expect. A few U.S. police agencies have adopted matrixes, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, Phoenix and Washington State Patrol.

Portland police are setting up a work group to consider such a matrix.

Beyond that, criminal justice experts have urged police departments to do as much as possible to limit disciplinary problems by setting high standards for hiring with effective screening of applicants, ensuring training is aligned with bureau policy and clear expectations, and there’s strong street-level supervision. Also, they stressed the importance of disciplining officers soon after the alleged mistake.

Upon learning that the Chasse arbitration ruling this week had come 5 1/2 years after his death, Stephens said: “That’s crazy! By the time you get to that point, any impact you intended the discipline to have is long gone.”

There’s no magic answer, Iris said.

“In some cases,” he said. “You basically have to gnash your teeth.”

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Coalition for Justice and Police Reform protest order reinstating Portland police officer who shot Aaron Campbell

Posted by admin2 on 3rd April 2012

From The Oregonian, April 3, 2012

READ – Frashour’s Fate May Take Months to Figure Out, Portland Mercury
READ / WATCH – Hundreds gather to protest officer’s reinstatement,
READ / LISTEN – Protesters Gather In Response To Frashour Ruling,
READ – Ruling Says Officer Shouldn’t Have Been Fired,
READ – Protesters evoke Trayvon in wake of ruling for officer,
READ – Protesters: Portland officer shouldn’t come back,
READ – Frashour Reinstated: Crowd Calls for Throwing Out Arbitration, Skanner
READ – EDITORIAL: Get Rid of the Portland Police Arbitration Rule – It Makes No Sense, Skanner
READ – EDITORIAL: Cop’s reinstatement a mistake, Oregonian
READ – Adams says city plans to challenge Frashour reintstatement, Portland Tribune
READ – Crowd protests arbitrator’s decision to re-hire cop,
READ – Mayor Adams on Ron Frashour: The Video, Portland Mercury
READ – Police Force May Take Frashour Back, Mercury
READ – Arbitrator: Reinstate Ron Frashour, Portland Business Journal
READ / LISTEN – Reinstating Frashour, Think Out Loud
READ / WATCH – Rally protests reinstatement of Portland officer in fatal Campbell shooting,
READ – Community Rallies Against Frashour Arbitrator Ruling, Mercury

Members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance and others gathered outside City Hall today to protest an arbitrator’s ruling that ordered Ronald Frashour be reinstated as a Portland police officer.

Some carried signs that read “No more immunity for shooting up community” and “Accountability Now.” Others shouted: “Frashour has got to go” and “No more killer cops.”

The arbitrator concluded that the city of Portland lacked cause to fire Frashour for his fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell, 25, an unarmed African American man, in 2010. The ruling also ordered Frashour be returned to work with lost wages.

The Rev. LeRoy Haynes , chair of the alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, called the arbitration decision “outrageous” and urged a federal review of the state arbitration system.

“This decision says that those who are elected that they cannot hold police officers in this city accountable,” Haynes bellowed, from the steps outside City Hall.

“It says any police officer can do what they want to do,” Haynes. “It means we cannot trust our police department.”

Protesters at Portland City Hall question arbitratror’s recommendation to reinstate Ronald Frashour

Crowd gathers at City Hall to protest order reinstating officer who shot Aaron Campbell

Haynes said a “critical review” of the Frashour arbitration decision is needed and urged federal justice department officials to investigate the state arbitration system because of its long history of ruling in the favor of Portland police.

The Rev. T. Allen Bethel, president of the alliance, said he asks the president of the Portland Police Association to “please look at your heart…..because what is happening is not enduring you or the bureau to the city.”

“It is time for Frashour to leave the bureau!” Bethel said.

“This can’t go on! But we’ll keep marching on,” said Minister Mark Knutson of Augustana Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland while leading a chant.

He chided the arbitrator for being swayed by William Lewinski, an outside expert called by the police union who testified about the action-reaction training principle – that an armed subject can draw a gun and fire, even while running away, before an officer can respond.

Knutson said the arbitrator should have considered the “action-reaction” advice that parents of young children of color in the community are given – “Don’t even move if you are pulled over for you may be shot dead,” he said.

Aaron Campbell’s stepdad John Davis also spoke, decrying the arbitrator’s ruling and the system that allows it.

“I don’t have any problems with police officers or unions but there’s something wrong with this decision,” Davis said.

Aaron Campbell’s mother reacts to civil rights review of Portland police

“This is a slap in the face to our communities,” said Martin Gonzalez, a community activist.

Also among those speaking to the crowd was Tom Steenson, the Campbell family’s attorney. He told the crowd that the Department of Justince “should come in (and) get rid of the (Police Bureau’s) training division.”

Steenson said he’s come to the conclusion that “there’s no way for this city to control this union and the police bureau.”

He said he stands among the crowd with a “heavy heart and grave concern,” after having counseled many families whose loved ones have been killed by police.

He said he’s tired of telling relatives that “the officers who inflict the death will get away with it.”

Midge Purcell, director of advocacy for the Urban League, said she’s a mother who is concerned about her children’s encounters with police and spoke out against the arbitrator’s ruling.

As did Eleyna Fugman, an Occupy Portland activist. She said she condemns the ruling, and will join with the Albina Ministerial Alliance, to protest Frashour’s return to uniform.

Jo Ann Hardesty, a former state representative, said the issue is not a racial one, but one about “humanity” and respect for life.

Dan Handelman, of Portland Copwatch, recited other disciplinary actions against Portland police that were overturned by an arbitrator, dating back to 1981, the infamous possum incident when officers were fired but reinstated after leaving a dead possum on the doorstep of an African American-owned restaurant.

“Here we go again,” Handelman said he thought, when he learned of the Frashour arbitrator’s ruling. He faulted the arbitrator for not considering the bureau’s use of force policy, that says officers should use the least force possible.

Handelman said he calls Lewinski’s action-reaction principle the “Superman theory,” questioning how Campbell, while running, could have – if he had been armed – pulled out a gun , fired and hit an officer faster than an officer who had his AR-15 rifle already focused on Campbell could fire.

“That makes no sense,” Handelman said.

More than a hundred people marched around City Hall after the speeches, continuing their chants. The Rev. Haynes led the march, holding a sign that read , “Stop, Look, Listen, Don’t Shoot.”

In Friday’s decision, arbitrator Jane R. Wilkinson found there was “an objectively reasonable basis” for Frashour to believe that Campbell, 25, posed an immediate risk of serious injury or death to others. But she noted “it was a close call.”

While the Portland police union president applauded the decision, Mayor Sam Adams, who serves as police commissioner, said the city would appeal the ruling.

At Monday’s protest, Portland city council candidate Teresa Raiford questioned why no city officials were outside, joining the crowd.

“Where are our leaders?” Raiford asked.

An appeal to the state Employee Relations Board would be limited. Under state statute, the three-member board would not determine whether the arbitrator made the right decision. Instead, the board would decide whether there are any grounds for an appeal — for example, did the arbitrator consider all pertinent evidence, exceed her power, base the ruling on a material mistake, or did the ruling violate public policy or law.

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Aaron Campbell’s Mother Hopes $1.2 Million Settlement Prompts Portland Police Reforms

Posted by admin2 on 8th February 2012

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, talks about her family's decision to settle a suit against the Police Bureau for $1.2 million.

Stuart Tomlinson/The Oregonian
Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, talks about her family's decision to settle a suit against the Police Bureau for $1.2 million.

Members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance this morning stood with Aaron Campbell’s mother in support of the recent $1.2 million settlement of the family’s federal wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Portland.

Marva Davis, Campbell’s mother who had lost another son the day a Portland police officer fatally shot 25-year-old Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010, said she agreed to settle the case because she didn’t want to experience the pain again.

“I don’t want to relive this again. It hurts,” Davis said, speaking outside City Hall. “I lost two sons that day, just not Aaron. I don’t want to relive that.”

But she said she hopes the case prompts reforms in the Portland Police Bureau.

The family’s attorney, Tom Steenson, has publicly urged Police Chief Mike Reese to address a “disconnect” between the chief’s findings that the shooting violated policy, and the expected testimony of at least 11 bureau training instructors who said the chief was wrong and the officers involved acted as trained.

“I just hope we can work together and get to a point where we can feel good about calling the police,” Davis said.

Campbell, distraught and suicidal over his brother’s death earlier that day, emerged from his girlfriend’s Northeast Portland apartment, walking backwards with his hands behind his head. Officer Ryan Lewton fired six beanbag less-lethal shotgun rounds at him, when Campbell didn’t follow his orders to put his hands in the air.

Officer Ronald Frashour fired a single shot from his AR-15 rifle, as Campbell ran behind a car. Frashour has said he thought Campbell was reaching for a gun. The 25-year-old was unarmed.

The Rev. LeRoy Haynes of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, and Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell call for police reforms, better training in the use of deadly force.

The chief and mayor fired Frashour; the Portland Police Association is challenging the termination before a state arbitrator.

LeRoy Haynes, chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, today praised Campbell’s family.

“This family has shown their strength and this mother has shown what she’s made up of – grace to struggle against the injustices that were committed against their son Aaron Campbell, in this horrendous act of shooting an unarmed young African American in the back with his hands locked around his neck,” Haynes said.

Haynes said the coalition echoes the family’s call for the chief and Mayor Sam Adams to address “the contradiction between policy and training within the bureau.”

Haynes also called on the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the Campbell case closely. Steenson has sent a package to the federal investigators containing trial discovery documents.

Although the coalition would have preferred a trial to allow the community to see the “brokenness” in the Police Bureau, Haynes said he hopes the Campbell case will be a “pivotal lawsuit” that will spur bureau reforms.

“Let us use this historical moment in a positive way to create a better Police Bureau,” Haynes said.

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