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Reaction to City Auditor’s memo on police review is mixed

Posted by Jenny on 30th October 2013

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 29, 2013

Reaction was mixed Tuesday, a day after Portland’s city auditor sent a blistering memo to the mayor and city council members identifying “alarming lapses” in police accountability by top police command staff.

READCity Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade’s memo (PDF, 72KB)

READMHAP’s written testimony before City Council

Police Chief Mike Reese, whose two top appointees were identified in the memo as taking inappropriate action to either halt an internal affairs inquiry or duck an interview by an independent investigator, had little to say.

He refused to answer specific written questions about the issues raised.

“The City Council is currently weighing the proposed changes brought forth by the Auditor,” Reese said in an e-mailed response. “We will continue to have thoughtful discussions with the members of City Council in the coming weeks to answer any questions they have.”

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who serves as police commissioner and is out of town this week on a work-related trip to China, has read Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade‘s memo, his spokesman Dana Haynes said.

“He is aware of her memo. He has access to her memo,” Haynes said. “He has no comment on her memo.”

But City Council member Nick Fish said he understands the auditor’s frustration and wants to work to revive council action on the auditor’s package of reforms.

“We need to implement these changes to improve accountability and get this back on track,” Fish said.

In the Monday memo, Griffin-Valade said she felt that the mayor and council didn’t recognize the “urgency” and need to move forward with changes to strengthen Portland police oversight, as sought by the U.S. Department of Justice. While Reese testified before the council last week that the current oversight system “is working very well,” the auditor said that’s not the case at all, highlighting several lapses in accountability by two high-ranking police supervisors in the last six months.

“There’s been very recent activity within the high command of the Police Bureau that has caused our office concern,” said Constantin Severe, director of the Independent Police Review Division.

Under the auditor’s proposed reforms, the Independent Police Review Division’s civilian investigators would be able to question officers directly and compel their testimony. The division would be granted oversight of the bureau’s high-ranking civilian supervisors. The Police Bureau would have to inform the Independent Police Review Division whenever an internal affairs inquiry was halted, and the chief would have to explain in writing to the mayor every time he did not follow a Police Review Board’s recommended discipline for an officer.

The chief opposed each of these proposals, which were drafted specifically to address problems that occurred under his watch.

Fish said he believes there’s consensus on the council for most of the proposals, except two or three and would hope that any outstanding questions are cleared up over the next three weeks.

City Attorney James Van Dyke is expected to provide a legal opinion to commissioners by Friday whether allowing civilian investigators  to question officers directly and compel their testimony requires mandatory bargaining. Fish said he wants to make sure a proposed speedier 180-day timeline for completion of internal affairs inquiries is realistic.

“These reforms are important. I regret the auditor felt in any way that the council was being cavalier about these proposals,” Fish said. He added that he was somewhat confused about the proposals, due to lack of communication between the mayor and commissioners before last week’s hearing.

“What is clear is the auditor, the IPR director, the mayor and the police chief need to get in a room and work out their remaining differences,” Fish said. “Let’s fix the problem. Let’s go forward. I think we need to show some urgency.”

If no agreement can be reached, the council must act regardless, he said.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz said she was disappointed that the auditor has chosen to take her proposed police oversight reforms off the council agenda.

Fritz said she supported many of the proposed reforms, but doesn’t think they go far enough and suggested a stakeholder committee be created to examine them further.

Fritz said she, too, was “perturbed” by the chief’s characterization of a system that’s working well and his opposition to changes that would allow the Independent Police Review Division to conduct meaningful independent inquiries. The division is under the auditor’s office, not the Police Bureau.

“That’s why we have an IPR system and hopefully they can hold supervisors accountable,” Fritz said. “I believe there’s value in further discussion.”

But Severe described the proposed reforms as straightforward, meant to address the demands of the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal justice officials called for a package of reforms to police policies, training and oversight after an investigation last year found Portland police engaged in excessive force against people with mental illness.

“The things we’re asking for in the (city) code changes are pretty basic,” Severe said. “It’s like oversight 101.”

Severe said he opposed convening a a stakeholder’s committee on the proposed reforms, which have been discussed for several months and agreed to as part of a pending settlement with the Justice Department.

“For everybody to try to act like we’re in Casablanca and this is a surprise, is not fair, ” Severe said. “The way we’ve done oversight in Portland is based on personality, but you can’t have oversight based on gentleman’s agreements.”

Instead, convening a stakeholder’s group to address the broader question of what type of police oversight the community wants would make more sense, he said.

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Chief Mike Reese objects to proposed police review changes

Posted by Jenny on 28th October 2013

From OPB’s Think Out Loud, Oct. 28, 2013

LISTEN – Interview with Portland Police Chief Mike Reese

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese delivered strong remarks to the city council this week about proposed changes to the system of investigating complaints about police and officer-involved shootings. The director of the Independent Police Review (IPR) Division told Think Out Loud before the council meeting that these changes were needed in order to comply with the city’s 2012 settlement agreement with the federal Department of Justice (DOJ). The agreement came after incidents involving police use of force against people with mental illness and a lengthy DOJ investigation.

In his remarks to the council, Reese said the changes — especially the ones that would affect how the IPR conducted investigations — are not necessary and that the current system is “working well.”

Mayor Charlie Hales, who oversees the Police Bureau, has put the issue off until the city council’s December 4th meeting.

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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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MHAP, others will offer testimony on police review

Posted by Jenny on 24th October 2013

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 23, 2013

PPB shieldA number of proposed Portland City Code changes that would expand the powers of the Independent Police Review Division and require more information be made public on the police chief’s disciplinary decisions are to go before City Council this afternoon.

The League of Women Voters, Portland Copwatch and the Mental Health Association of Portland already have weighed in, releasing their written testimony.

Portland Copwatch will urge the council not to adopt the proposed changes. The police watchdog group argues that the changes only add power to the professional staff working for the city’s Independent Police Review Division, the intake center for complaints against Portland police, yet do not significantly strengthen the citizen panel that hears complainant’s appeals of police investigative findings.

“While many of the proposed ideas are good first steps, they do not go far enough to ensure thorough, independent and transparent oversight of the police,” wrote Dan Handelman, who runs the police watchdog group Portland Copwatch.

Jason Renaud, of the Mental Health Association of Portland, called the existing citizen complaint process “daunting,” especially for people suffering from mental illness.

“The paperwork, investigations, lengthy waits and public exposure are substantial barriers to participation,” Renaud in written testimony he’ll present to council.

Renaud suggests that the Independent Police Review Division hire peer mediators who share common life experiences with persons with mental illness. They would help guide a person through the complaint process, or offer an alternative -  a personal conversation with a specified officer, who will show up out of uniform and at a meeting site other than a police station.

“The opportunity to speak privately and face-to-face, is far more likely to result in meaningful and satisfying conflict resolution than a lengthy investigation and hearing,” Renaud wrote.

The co-presidents of the League of Women Voters said the league generally supports the proposed changes but asks that the council obtain more input from the community and the Citizen Review Committee. The league’s leaders said they’re concerned about what would happen to a complaint if an investigation is not completed by the proposed 180-day deadline.

“The League recommends that this process be slowed down so that the public’s voice can be heard,” the league co-presidents Margaret Noel and Kathleen Hersh wrote to council.

Under the proposed changes, investigators from Portland’s Independent Police Review Division could directly question and compel testimony from any officer or police bureau employee.

If a sworn officer or civilian member of the Police Bureau refused an interview, they could face discipline, up to discharge, by the chief or police commissioner. Employes would be told the date and time of the interview and would have the right to have a union representative present.

Portland Officer Daryl Turner, president of the rank-and-file union the Portland Police Association, said last week that he had not discussed the proposed changes with the IPR division director. He said such a change would be a subject of mandatory bargaining. He said he hoped to meet with the director to find out what the interviews would be used for.

“My job is to protect officers’ rights,” Turner said. “Right now, we will look at the proposal, meet with the city and in the end, hope there’s a collaborative effort to reach agreement.”

In another proposed code change, public reports on alleged police misconduct cases heard by the Portland Police Review Board, which recommends discipline to the chief, would be expanded to include the board’s recommended findings, the police chief’s proposed discipline and the final discipline.

If the chief imposes discipline different from the review board’s recommendation, the chief would have to provide a written explanation to the police commissioner.

The chief’s final discipline is not included in the public reports now.

The matter was raised when Police Chief Mike Reese last year disregarded the review board’s recommendation to fire then-Capt. Todd Wyatt and instead demoted Wyatt to lieutenant. The review board found Wyatt had inappropriately touched female employees under his command, wasn’t truthful about what had occurred and escalated an off-duty road rage encounter by flashing his gun and badge.

Mary-Beth Baptista, then director of the Independent Police Review Division, criticized the chief’s decision in the Wyatt case, saying it wasn’t what police accountability looked like.

Other proposed changes would alter the makeup of the Citizen Review Committee, now a nine-member volunteer group that hears appeals from people who have filed complaints against an officer and seek to challenge the bureau’s findings. The committee would grow to 11 members, and all would have to sign a confidentiality agreement.

The Independent Police Review Division also is recommending changes in Police Bureau command structure. The head of police internal affairs would report directly to the police chief, “given the sensitive nature of misconduct investigations.” That’s essentially occurring now but hasn’t been formalized. The chief also could delegate authority to start or complete a misconduct inquiry to the head of internal affairs.

The other proposed changes call for:

  • the creation of a police discipline matrix to guide managers and ensure fair and consistent discipline
  • all administrative investigations of alleged misconduct to be completed within 180 days.
  • Citizen Review Committee members to be appointed to serve on Police Review Boards in use of force cases.

The code changes will be presented to City Council at 2:10 p.m. this afternoon.

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Officer Dane Reister, whose ammo mixup seriously injured man, is fired

Posted by Jenny on 16th October 2013

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 16, 2013

Dane Reister

Dane Reister

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese has fired Officer Dane Reister, citing his unsatisfactory performance when he mistakenly fired lethal rounds from a beanbag shotgun, critically wounding a man in Southwest Portland on June 30, 2011.

READMHAP’s response to shooting

“This has been a long and thorough investigation, which had complexities due to the pending criminal charges,” Reese said in a statement Wednesday. “The events of June 30th devastated the lives of those involved, but we hope that this action will bring some sense of closure.”

The Police Bureau notified Reister of his termination on Tuesday.

“We’re very disappointed in the chief’s decision,” said Reister’s lawyer, Janet Hoffman. “However, we’re confident the union will pursue all grievance procedures.”

Reister, 42, joined the Police Bureau in February 1996. He’s been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. He also faces criminal charges, becoming the first Portland officer ever to face a criminal indictment for force used on duty.

He has pleaded not guilty to third- and fourth-degree assault charges. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office added a negligent wounding charge, which is now being challenged before Oregon’s Court of Appeals.

This past spring, the city of Portland agreed to pay a record $2.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by William Kyle Monroe, the man wounded by Reister. The suit had called for Reister’s firing, but the termination wasn’t part of the settlement agreement.

“This is an appropriate ending to a very sad story,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, who as police commissioner signed Reister’s termination letter. Hales’ office said the firing was the chief’s decision.

The Portland Police Association also is disappointed by the firing and questions whether the chief considered all the appropriate factors, said Officer Daryl Turner, union president.

“We’re looking at the discipline letter with our legal counsel, and we will make a decision on how we move forward next week,” Turner said.

Reister’s gunshots fractured Monroe’s pelvis and punctured his bladder, abdomen and colon. The fourth shot, fired from less than 15 feet away, left a softball-sized hole in his left leg and severed his sciatic nerve. He narrowly escaped bleeding to death because OHSU Hospital was near the shooting scene, his lawyer has said.

Monroe was 20 at the time and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

According to the settled federal lawsuit, Monroe, who was living with his father in Hillsboro, had intended to drive to Bremerton, Wash., to visit his mother the day before the shooting, but became disoriented and was suffering from paranoid mania.

He ended up in Lair Hill Park the next morning, where children from a day camp were playing. Monroe pulled discarded flowers out of a park garbage bin and tossed them near the children. Camp supervisors told Monroe to leave the park. Police received two 911 calls from camp officials. The camp director said in the second call that Monroe may have a pocket knife up his sleeve.

Reister responded to the call. He spotted Monroe on Southwest Naito Parkway, commanded him to stop and get down on his knees with his hands behind his head. Reister asked Monroe if he had any weapons, and Monroe emptied his pockets, discarding his miniature Swiss Army knife, the suit says. Monroe put his hands behind his head, but asked why he should get on his knees. Reister described Monroe as “highly agitated,” and grabbed his beanbag shotgun from his car, and two more officers arrived.

Monroe assured police he hadn’t done anything wrong as he backed away and then began running and yelled for help. Without warning, the suit says, Reister chased after Monroe and fired five times, emptying his gun. The fifth round jammed because of Reister’s “excessively rapid firing,” the suit says.

In court filings, Reister admitted misloading his less-lethal shotgun, which he had checked out that morning from Central Precinct’s armory. He said he carried the shotgun across the street to the dark basement of the parking garage on Southwest Second Avenue, found his duty bag there – which contained both lethal and non-lethal ammunition in it — and then walked to his car and mistakenly loaded the beanbag shotgun with lethal rounds.

The day after the shooting, Reese and then-Mayor Sam Adams called the shooting a “tragic mistake.”

Four months after the shooting, as Reister’s lawyer argued in court that her client’s mistake was partly due to the Police Bureau’s negligent and inadequate policies, the police chief issued a new policy. It required that beanbag ammunition be stored only in a carrier attached to the side or stock of the orange-painted, 12-gauge beanbag shotguns.

Five years earlier, Reister mistakenly fired a loaded riot-suppression launcher during training, injuring an officer posing as a protester with a smoke round.

Reister is the second officer that Reese has fired for their use of force. Last year, the chief fired Officer Ron Frashour, concluding that his fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010, wasn’t justified because Campbell didn’t pose an immediate threat. An arbitrator, though, ordered Frashour back to work. Last fall, Mayor Adams reinstated Frashour, paid him nearly two years of back pay and placed him on paid leave while the city appeals the arbitrator’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

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Editorial: Performance evaluations for Portland cops ‘long overdue’

Posted by Jenny on 20th August 2013

By the Editorial Board of The Oregonian, August 18, 2013

"The bureau has gone without reviews for at least two decades, a practice that can in some officers foster unpredictable, it-seemed-like-the-right-thing-to-do behavior."

“The bureau has gone without reviews for at least two decades, a practice that can in some officers foster unpredictable, it-seemed-like-the-right-thing-to-do behavior.”

That performance evaluations could return to the Portland Police Bureau is not less than great news: for police officers, their supervisors, and all citizens who depend on competence and consistency from those charged with protecting civil order. Negotiations between the city and the Portland Police Association, the union representing police, showed a deal was near in a public session Thursday.

The union predictably wants any performance assessment of officers to play no role in officer discipline or promotions, a demand that is unrealistic if not mystifying.

But even if the union wins such an assurance, and it appears it will, evaluations can elevate and warrant performance by making known precisely what’s expected of officers — and where they succeed and fail. Those things alone would advance the work of the bureau by setting clear standards against which an officer’s on-the-job efforts can be measured, particularly in contested moments of crisis.

This is not a new subject. The bureau has gone without reviews for at least two decades, a practice that can in some officers foster unpredictable, it-seemed-like-the-right-thing-to-do behavior. Some efforts at improving accountability dragged along. As far back as 1993, city auditors had urged the bureau to install a computerized Employee Intervention System that would track every officer’s use of force and help flag problem officers — but it wasn’t until 2005 that such a system was designed and not until 2011 that it went online.

Individual performance reviews, meanwhile, have come last.

To his credit, Chief Mike Reese more than a year ago said he wanted to institute quarterly assessments of each officer in which only the fourth review would end up in the officer’s personnel file — this, apparently, to avoid the hammer effect of too much top-down oversight that, ironically, can undermine an officer’s capacity to exercise his or her own good judgment. Reese had argued the first three review sessions would allow the officer “to provide input regarding their performance and give an opportunity for correction, if needed.” That made sense then and still does.

But in last week’s negotiating session, The Oregonian’s Maxine Bernstein reported, it was clear both the police and union view performance evaluations as helping officers know what’s expected of them “and not have to wait to learn of their deficiencies at a disciplinary hearing.” That makes even greater sense now.

A concern expressed last week by two sergeants on the union’s executive board was that performance evaluations would increase supervisor workload and force sergeants to interact more with their direct reports. Really? That revealing interactions are lacking now is a problem for which performance evaluations could surely offer a free, corollary solution.

The police and union brass should shake hands and adopt long-overdue police performance evaluations. Doing so will deepen work already underway to make the Portland Police Bureau fully a culture of accountability.

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Mayor’s meeting on homelessness includes critics, housing advocates, police chief, staffers – but not the Portland Business Alliance

Posted by Jenny on 14th August 2013

By Denis C. Theriault, The Portland Mercury, August 14, 2013

Mayor Charlie Hales, as of this afternoon, has now had three informal meetings with business interests, law enforcement, and social services providers to get up to speed on homelessness—a difficult subject he announced he’d be taking on during his State of the City speech this spring.

Hales’ office sent me the roster of participants for this afternoon’s meeting, which was listed on a public calendar his office sent reporters earlier this week. If you’ve read my previous posts about these meetings, which the Mercury first reported on, you’ll notice something new: The most recent roster now includes former Housing Commissioner Nick Fish and his staff (former housing policy adviser Sonia Schmanski), members of current Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman‘s staff (chief of staff Brendan Finn among them; still not Saltzman himself), and Sally Erickson, the Portland Housing Bureau’s homelessness team leader.

The list also includes Police Chief Mike Reese and, notably does not include, for the first time, the Portland Business Alliance.

Israel Bayer, Street Roots

Sally Erickson, Housing Bureau

Dennis Lundberg, Janus Youth Services

Commissioner Fish + staff

Commissioner Saltzman’s staff

Marc Jolin, JOIN

Doreen Binder, Transition Projects

Chief Mike Reese

Mayoral staffers


But while the meeting was scheduled last week, I’ve been told the additions of Fish and his staff and possibly others were last-minute. As in, the invitations came today, the morning after the Mercury first reported Fish’s complaints and the same day we ran our story about officials including Fish and Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury questioning the city’s leadership on housing issues.

Bayer told me the meeting was “productive” when I saw him briefly outside city hall and that Hales and his staff seeme”d open to a significant discussion about resources, not just law enforcement sweeps of camps and sidewalks. Yesterday, we reported that Street Roots wants to ask businesses and local governments to match the city in committing millions toward rent assistance.

WW today reported that Hales, as a result of the meeting, is less focused on something Saltzman said he wanted to work on: finding new shelter capacity. Kafoury, in our story this week, said that was an inefficient way of helping families, one of Saltzman’s passions.

Hales’ spokesman had this to say earlier this week when asked why Saltzman and the housing bureau weren’t part of the initial meetings:

“The mayor had focused his first meetings by accepting the help of those outside City Hall, because (he’s often said) it’s too easy to get info from ‘inside the bubble’f and tougher, but vital, to see the issue from outsiders’ perspectives. Also, the City Council can always compel Bureau staff to talk to ’em about any topic. And they do.”

Things change quickly in city hall sometimes. This morning, in light of Fish’s remarks, Hales told me commissioners “are always free to weigh in” with their thoughts and he “I don’t take that personally.” But he also said, “When I hear a cry from the heart, I listen.”

He clearly did. And none too soon. Because the media pile-on just got official tonight. City hall gets annoyed with me and Aaron Mesh. They really pay attention when Steve Duin weighs in. And Duin wrote a column today that echoes all the themes in my story in this week’s paper, with the added bonus of calling Hales a latter-day Rudy Giuliani.

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Archive of DOJ materials from the Portland Police Bureau’s website

Posted by Jenny on 25th July 2013

On July 24, 2013, the Portland Police Bureau added a “DOJ” link to its website, to house information related to the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of the Portland police and its subsequent lawsuit against the City of Portland.  In order to preserve the material posted there, even if a document or the whole site is at any point removed, this page contains copies of everything there except the calendar listings.

Need to catch up?  See our DOJ Crash Course reading list at the bottom of this post.

The following text and materials are the same ones available on PPB’s site as of 7/26/13, unless another date is specified.

Department of Justice Materials and Updates

DOJ sealThe Portland Police Bureau (PPB) recognizes the shifting nature of police work and of what it means to be a first responder. Operating in an environment of diminished resources for community mental health, housing, and other safety net resources, Police officers are responding to twice the number of suicide calls than 10 years ago and an ever increasing number of calls for service related to individuals in a mental health crisis. PPB recognizes that officers need to be fully prepared to meet the demands of policing in Portland today.

The Portland Police Bureau looks forward to continued engagement with all parties involved in the proposed DOJ settlement agreement. Information currently found on this link includes: meeting times and locations of various advisory councils and committees; an action item matrix associated with the DOJ proposed settlement; information regarding the Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit; and DOJ-related documents, including information on training, policies and internal affairs investigations.

The Portland Police Bureau will use this website as a clearinghouse of information related to the Department of Justice. Additional information, including items related to the proposed Community Outreach Advisory Board (COAB) will be added once the settlement agreement is adopted.


Although approved by the City Council in November, 2012, the settlement agreement still awaits approval by a Federal Court. The delay in the approval process revolves around concerns that the Portland Police Association (PPA) and the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) have about the settlement agreement itself. However, PPB has interpreted the vote in November as direction from City Council and our community to embrace the reforms outlined in the Council-approved agreement.

As a first step, Chief Michael Reese appointed Captain Pat Walsh as PPB’s Compliance Coordinator to manage the implementation of the DOJ Agreement. In early 2013, the “Compliance Team” organized the settlement agreement, which can be viewed online here [on MHAP,  here] into 80 individual action items, which have been assigned out to managers within the Police Bureau.  The Training Division, Behavioral Health Unit, Professional Standards Division, Strategic Services Division, and Chief’s Office are managing the implementation of different sets of action items. These action items are detailed in a living spreadsheet that is constantly updated as implementation progresses.

While the Bureau recognizes these action items will not be 100% complete until approved by oversight bodies, including City Council, community oversight boards, and the DOJ itself, PPB has implemented over 50% (41 of 80) of the action items stemming from this agreement. By implementing an action item, PPB has determined it has fulfilled the terms of that agreement provision to the best of the bureau’s ability and is awaiting approval from the Compliance Officer Community Liaison, to be hired by Portland City Council. Implementation sometimes includes producing or revising bureau documents like a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) or a new Bureau Directive. On the ground impacts of these new policies will be measured through use of force trends, reports on interactions with the mentally ill, measures of public trust, and the impact of a new Community Engagement and Outreach Plan, among other things.

Particularly impactful highlights from this first stage of implementation include:

  • New Use of Force and Taser Policies
  • In Service training for all PPB sworn personnel that incorporates new force policies and other changes outlined by the agreement
  • The creation of the Behavioral Health Unit and its advisory board, co chaired by Shannon Pullen of NAMI Multnomah
  • New time limits and expectations related to internal affairs investigations
  • New use-of-force data tracking and analysis
  • New checks and balances within the bureau with the establishment of the Inspector position in the Professional Services Division

PPB is committed to continuous improvement through the implementation of the additional 41 action items stemming from the settlement agreement with the DOJ as well as continual response to community and City Council concerns and ideas. Major implementation items on the horizon include changes to how PPB evaluates the impact of training on its sworn personnel, new efficiencies in administrative review processes, and the creation of oversight bodies to review our progress.

Implementation Checklist

PPB DOJ Agreement Checklist of Action Items, June 2013 (PDF, 104KB)

Force Data Summaries

Monthly and Quarterly Reports on Bureau Use of Force

Force Data Summary Report, April 2013 (PDF, 1.2MB)

Professional Standards Division Documents

Timelines for IA Investigations

Timeline: All Case Scenarios (7 Options) – DOJ Action Item #121 (PDF, 312KB)

Inspector- Professional Standards Unit S O P#5 (PDF, 12KB)

Training Documents

PPB Training

2013 In-Service Special Order (PDF, 370KB)


Community Mental Health Resources Guide, Updated July 2013 (PDF, 330KB)

Behavioral Health Unit

The BHU team.

The BHU team.

The BHU is located within Central Precinct and encompasses and oversees the four tiers of police response to individuals with mental illness or in crisis:

  • The core competency crisis intervention training for all officers;
  • Enhanced crisis intervention training for a group of officers who volunteer to respond to most crisis calls;
  • The proactive Mobile Crisis Unit (MCU); and
  • The Service Coordination Team.

The BHU has a designated Captain, Lieutenant and Sergeant who oversee the entire program, including Crisis Intervention Training, Mobile Crisis Unit, Service Coordination Team (SCT)

BHU Organizational Chart (PDF, 1.15MB)

Crisis Intervention Training

All Portland Police Bureau officers have received crisis intervention training throughout their careers, and new recruits will continue to do so.

In addition, the Bureau has 50 officers from a variety of patrol assignments who will act as Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officers. These Officers will be the first responders dispatched by 9-1-1 to calls that are determined to be related to an individual with mental illness. In May, the officers will receive additional training in: the indicators of mental illness; crisis communication skills; interaction with consumers and family members; and education on community resources. The training will include scenarios applying patrol tactics to persons in behavior crisis.

Mobile Crisis Unit

The Mobile Crisis Unit pairs an officer and a licensed Mental Health Professional from Project Respond.  The Portland Police Bureau current has three MCU cars.  The officers and Project Respond professional work proactively with individuals who have multiple contacts with police to attempt to connect them with appropriate services in advance of a mental health crisis.
WATCH - “Officer Bret Burton and the MCU”  (This KGW News story, filmed on the day “Alien Boy” premiered, features Bret Burton, one of the officers involved in the brutal death of James Chasse — the real-life Alien Boy who inspired Brian Lindstrom’s film.  In either terrible irony or a moral reversal worthy of St. Augustine, Burton now serves on the PPB’s Mobile Crisis Unit, dedicating his time to seek out and help persons with mental illness – like Chasse.  – Eds.)

(KGW’s  film was shared publicly by PPB on Facebook.)

Service Coordination Team (SCT)

The Service Coordination Team (SCT) is a program that offers treatment to the City’s most frequent drug and property crime offenders to address their drug and alcohol addictions, mental health issues and criminality. This program has successfully graduated 102 former drug addicts from its treatment program, reducing recidivism among program graduates by 91%.

The Portland Police Bureau is committed to continuously improving its response to its delivery of service to Portland’s most vulnerable communities.

DOJ Referenced Cases

Note: The PPB’s term, “Referenced cases” are actually those the DOJ pointed out in its report because they were egregious examples of the excessive, unnecessary use of force investigators identified as a pattern or practice of violence, by PPB officers, against persons with mental illness.


All these acts were committed by police officers who were presumably not suspended from marionette strings.  The officers caused their own actions; they are responsible for those actions.


Despite what Chief Mike Reese says, it is not “processes and systems” at fault.


It was not processes and systems that “resorted to repeated closed-fist punches and repeated shocking of a subject who was to be placed on a mental health hold.” It wasn’t processes and systems that “repeatedly Tasered an unarmed, naked subject” whom officers thought had a mental illness (it was later discovered he was in a diabetic crisis). And it certainly wasn’t any process or system that “punched an unarmed subject at least seven times in the face” while on a call to check the person’s safety and welfare.


–Eds. (Cites: DOJ Letter of Findings pp. 2-3)


Statement from Chief Michael Reese

September 12, 2012

I want to thank the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, including Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez and his staff, for working with us for the last 14 months.  And thank you also to Mayor Adams for his guidance and support throughout this entire process.

Every day, Portland Police Officers are working to protect and serve our community.  Last year we had approximately 400,000 contacts with community members and too many of these were the result of homelessness, addiction and mental health issues.

As a law enforcement agency, over the last decade, we have had a dynamic shift from responding to criminal issues to responding to social disorder.  Unfortunately, our system has given officers less options to help people who are afflicted with mental health issues and sometimes concurrent drug and alcohol problems.  We have not been adequately prepared for the changing circumstances in our community, related to mental health.

The situations we are talking about today are complex and difficult for officers to resolve.  There are no easy answers or guaranteed outcomes.  Thoughtful people can respectfully disagree with the legal conclusions. I strongly agree that this bureau and our community can improve the way we serve and protect Portland’s most vulnerable populations. That’s why, as the DOJ has collaboratively provided us with recommendations during their investigation, this bureau has already implemented changes in the way we investigate use of force, embarked on reducing unnecessary interactions with people in mental health crisis, and created an Inspector position responsible for reviewing all force incidents looking for trends or patterns that may be problematic.  The recommendations contained in this letter from the Department of Justice provide us with ideas for additional enhancements that we believe are valuable ways to ensure that our use of force meets the community’s expectations.

As we move to implement these recommendations, we are fortunate to have close relationships with leaders in the mental health community, including Cascadia, which provides Project Respond workers who assist on many calls for service regarding people in crisis.  Dr Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia, is here today. I want to personally thank him and his staff for the tremendous support they give police officers each and every day, as well as the other social service agencies who assist our officers. If we are to be successful in meeting these challenges, then police officers will need to have better relationships with our social service partners than we do with jail staff.

We all agree that we as a police department and as a community can do better.  I am looking forward to a collaborative relationship with the Department of Justice and our social service partners as we make improvements that provide officers and our community more options and resources to effectively help people who are in a mental health crisis.

Finally, what we are talking about today is processes and systems-not about our Police Officers.  The men and women, who took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, are not to blame. They are out in the community doing their best-and in the majority of cases are highly successful, saving lives and making a positive difference in our community.  I support them and the work they do.

The Portland Police Bureau continues to evolve, learn and improve.  I believe the resulting agreement from our efforts with the Department of Justice will make us a better police bureau.

Thank you.

Chief Michael Reese

Portland Police Bureau



List of DOJ-Referenced Cases – Click to Jump to a Case

PPB Case #11-39595

PPB Case #10-105736

PPB Case #10-38750

PPB Case #10-67330

PPB Case #11-40358

PPB Case #11-39595 – Case Overview

On Sunday May 15, 2011, at about 9:48 a.m. an a Portland Police officer assigned to East Precinct responded to 73rd and Southeast Yamhill on a man standing in the rain for over an hour.

Arriving, the officer saw the man standing in the rain next to a stop sign. The officer tried talking to the man but he was mostly unresponsive but did say something in Spanish.  The officer told the man “Uno Memento” and he walked back to his car to request the help of a Spanish-speaking officer.

When the officer went back to car and the man followed him and the officer tried to get him to wait, but the man put his hand up mimicking the officer.  The officer continued to step back.  The officer said he saw the man’s forehead and jaw tense up and he thought the man was either going to swing at him or run away.

The officer said the man tightening his arms and fists and kicked at him.  The officer then took the man to the ground and the man resisted and he punched the man 7-10 time times to get the man to stop fighting him.  The man stopped resisting and the officer handcuffed the man.

Once the man was in custody the officer called for medical personnel to check the man for injuries and he learned that the man was the subject of a missing report.  Later, the officer learned the man had a mental illness.

There was a community member who was the original caller to 911 who witnessed the entire encounter and he said he believed the officer acted appropriately.

Associated Files for Case #11-39595:
Reports (PDF, 260KB)
Audio files (ZIP archive, 8.97MB)

PPB Case #11-39595 – Case Overview

On Thursday, May 13, 2010, at 11:45 p.m., officers responded to Northwest 2nd Avenue and Northwest Everett Street after a caller to 911 requested police check on a man individual spitting on passing vehicles and acting strangely.  Three more citizens contacted the officer about the subject of the 911 call just prior to the officer locating the man on Northwest Everett Street. The first arriving officer immediately asked his cover officers for a faster response.When the officer contacted the man, he immediately put his fists up to a fighting stance, approximately six inches from the officer’s face.  The officer pushed the man’s hands away and told him to back up.  The man refused to back away from the officer.  The officer attempted to use a burst of pepper spray, but due to the windy conditions the pepper spray did not affect the subject.  The man backed up, but kept his fighting stance.  Eventually, the man subject walked backward into traffic on Northwest 3rd Avenue.  He continued to focus on the officer with clenched fists and bounced on his feet like he was boxing.

The officer then pointed his Taser at the man and told him to sit on the sidewalk or he would be Tased.  As the cover officers arrived, the first officer warned them he was going to Taser the man.  The Taser can be very helpful to cover officers as they are able to quickly take a subject into custody without fighting.  In this instance, however, the man spun around to the ground on his back and pulled his arms and legs up into himself.  The officer used his Taser again as he told the man to put his arms out in order to be handcuffed.

The man refused and continued to keep his arms close to his chest while keeping his feet up to kick at the officers. The officers were concerned that the man was continuing to resist them as they were now in the middle of Northwest 3rd Avenue in the path of vehicle traffic.  The officer used a third Taser cycle. The man extended his arms and he was taken into custody at that time. The officers were able to prevent any injury to the subject or themselves because the Taser afforded the officers enough time to get the subject handcuffed before the electronic cycle ended.

Medical personnel initially responded to the scene to remove the Taser probes from the man.  During this entire encounter, the man was mumbling and chanting incoherently.  Officers requested the medical personnel also evaluate the man as they were unsure if he was affected by drugs or another condition that would require him to be transported by an ambulance.  At the conclusion of the medical evaluation, the officers recognized the man needed a mental health evaluation and transported him to Good Samaritan Hospital in lieu of the Multnomah County Detention Center for the Disorderly Conduct charge.

Associated Files for Case #10-38750:
Reports (PDF, 769KB)
Audio files (ZIP archive, 8.7MB)

PPB Case #11-39595 – Case Overview

On Sunday December 26, 2010, at 9:54 p.m. two officers went with members of Project Respond (Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare) to an apartment complex on Northwest Broadway so the mental health care workers could evaluate a male subject.   The Project Respond employees were familiar with the subject and told the officers he was known to light things on fire in the past.When the officers reached the hallway to the subject’s room, they could see burnt paper on the floor and items scattered around the area in front of the open door to his room. The officers saw the subject in his room and asked him to come outside his room which he did.  The subject also allowed the officers to check his pockets for sharp objects and followed their direction and seated himself in the hallway.During this interaction with the police and Project Respond employees, the subject continued to say things that did not make sense.  He talked about arson and being an “Indian.”  He made odd grunting noises, yelling and becoming defiant.  He called one of the Project Respond workers a “white bitch.”

The Project Respond employees determined that the subject should be taken to the hospital for further evaluation on a mental health hold.  As the officers took a hold of the subject’s arms and stood him up to be handcuffed, he began to tense up.  He tried to pull his arms out of the officer’s grasp and fought against the officers’ efforts to get his hands behind his back to be handcuffed.

The officers attempted to take the subject to the floor again in hopes they would have an easier time getting control of his arms.  The subject fought against the officers’ efforts and flipped his head down and rolled forward away from the officers.  The subject ended up with his feet kicking near the officer’s face.  The officers were able to roll the subject back onto his stomach to continue their attempt to control his arms.  The subject then pulled his arms underneath his body to prevent the officers from getting to his hands.

One officer drew his Taser and applied the Taser to the subject’s back to cause him to release his hands from under his body.  The subject stopped briefly, but started to twist his body and pull away from the officers again.  The officer warned the subject several times that he would be Tasered and did Taser him additional cycles.  After each cycle, the officer stopped the Taser, and re-attempted to get a hold of the subject’s hands.  The subject continued to resist the officers’ attempts to control his hands.  After realizing the Taser was not having enough of an effect to cause the subject to release his hands, the officer used a closed fist and hit the subject in the right and left rib cage area. These strikes were also not effective.  The officers struggled with the subject for two minutes until they were finally able to wrestle his arms out and get him handcuffed.

Both Project Respond employees witnessed the struggle between the officers and subject.  They documented what they saw on their Hospital Hold form for the subject stating:

(subject) strongly resisted being frisked and being handcuffed- punching, kicking, fighting.  Police had to tase him.  (He is) unable to understand he being evicted-thinks he is in the witness protection program.

After the officers transported the subject to the hospital, the subject had to be placed in a four point restraint system by hospital security.  The subject had minor bruising and abrasions and the officer had injury and pain to his hand as a result of the struggles.

Associated Files for Case #10-105736:
Reports (PDF, 1.7MB)

PPB Case #11-39595 – Case Overview

On Sunday, August 15, 2010, at 1:53 a.m., three officers responded to an apartment complex on Southwest 13th Avenue after an apartment complex employee heard an occupant calling for help from one of the apartments.  Officers approached the apartment door and heard faint sounds coming from inside.  The officers knocked on the door several times and announced their presence.  The subject finally answered, but the officers could not understand him.  The officers could hear the subject groaning and were worried that he was in need of medical assistance.  They opened the door with a complex master key as they announced again they were the Portland Police.Once inside the apartment, the officers found an adult man lying on the floor naked.  As they started to ask the man what was wrong, he jumped up, clenched his fists and screamed at the officers.  One of the officers again stated they were the Portland Police and they were there to help him.  As one officer was making this statement, the subject charged at the officers.  As one of the officers was backing away from the charging man, he was able to Taser the man.  The man fell to the floor, but did not follow the officers’ directions.  At the end of the Taser cycle, the subject became combative, aggressively kicking at the officers and refusing to follow their directions.  The apartment was a very small space and the officers were not able to get the subject handcuffed as he fought against their efforts to control his hands and kicking legs.  The officers did apply the Taser again and were eventually able to handcuff the man.After the man was handcuffed the officers were able to evaluate him and realized he was dazed and confused.  They saw that he was breathing hard and had a glazed look in his eyes.  An officer asked the man if he had any medical conditions.  The man was able to tell him he was a diabetic.  The officers then requested an immediate medical response to their location.

After medical personnel provided treatment for low blood sugar, the man was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.  The subject did not have any injury from the Taser.  Being able to quickly get the man handcuffed allowed the officers to discover the cause of his aggression, which turned out to be a medical condition.  A prolonged physical fight with the subject could have caused injury to him and delayed the medical treatment he needed.

Associated Files for Case #10-67330
Reports (PDF, 1.24MB)
Audio files (ZIP archive, 41.5MB)

PPB Case #11-39595 – Case Overview

On Thursday May 17, 2011, at 4:59 p.m., officers responded to a residence in the 1900 block of Southeast 134th Drive to conduct a welfare check of a 69-year-old woman.  This call was in response to Multnomah County Adult Protective Services (APS) receiving a call from the woman’s doctor who told APS that the woman called asking what to do after her son hit her in the head. APS told officers that the son has a history of assaulting his mother.

Officers arrived at the residence and talked to the victim, who had blood on her head, neck and shirt. She told officers that her 42-year-old son hit her in the head, put a knife to her throat and threw her down onto the ground. The victim told officers that her son told her, “I can kill you now,” as he held a knife to her throat.

Officers learned that the suspect was not at the residence any longer but later in the evening, at 10:43 p.m., they received information that the suspect returned to the residence and that the victim was on her way home from the hospital. Officers learned from the victim that the suspect was in his bedroom and he kept a sword in his bedroom.

Officers opened the door to the house with the victim’s consent and called several times for the suspect to come outside. Hearing no response from the suspect, officers began to clear the house and determined that the last place the suspect could be was in his bedroom.

Officers opened the bedroom door and saw the suspect lying on the bed. Officers told him several times to stand up and put his hands on his head but the suspect refused and said he was sleeping. Officers noted that the suspect’s hands were down at his sides in the bed.

Officers gave the suspect verbal warnings about the possible use of a less lethal beanbag and the suspect stood up rapidly and said something to the effect of, “Fine, just (expletive) shoot me.” The suspect began arguing with officers and slowly walking toward them but failing to put his hands on his head.

One officer, concerned that the suspect was closing the distance between himself and officers in a confined space with the threat of a sword being in the room, fired a single shot from a beanbag shotgun, striking the suspect in the leg, with little effect. Another officer instructed the suspect to turn around and place his hands on top of his head. The suspect turned around, but initially did not put his hands on his head. After being warned about less lethal again, the suspect put his hands on his head but refused to interlock his fingers. Concerned the suspect was pull free and physically fight with officers, the officer Tased the suspect one time in the back. The Taser was effective and the suspect was taken into custody.

Paramedics responded to remove the Taser probes and examine his leg for any injury from the beanbag round.

The suspect was arrested and charged with Domestic Violence-related (mandatory arrest) charges of Assault in the Fourth Degree, Harassment and Menacing.

Associated Files for Case #11-40358
Reports (PDF, 2.9MB)

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