The federal government Monday formally filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Portland alleging excessive force by Portland police and handed a federal judge a proposed settlement that calls for a multitude of police reforms.
READ – Complaint (PDF, 271KB)
READ – Memorandum in Support of Joint Motion (Settlement Agreement Attached) (PDF, 499KB)
The court filings stem from the U.S. Department of Justice’s nearly 15-month investigation into Portland police use of force. It found police engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against people suffering from or perceived to have a mental illness.
The settlement agreement, approved by Portland’s City Council Nov. 14, calls for widespread changes to Portland police force and Taser policies, training, supervision and oversight. It also calls for a restructuring of police crisis intervention services and quicker internal inquiries into alleged police misconduct.
“The Agreement reflects the parties’ considered efforts to ensure that the causes of the alleged violations are remedied and do not recur,” according to a legal memorandum filed Monday and signed by federal justice officials and Portland’s city attorney.
In supporting legal documents, the city attorney and officials from the U.S. Department of Justice asked a judge to accept the settlement agreement on police reforms and dismiss the civil lawsuit from the court’s active docket.
Doing so will allow the court to retain control over the agreement and take action if the city doesn’t comply with it. Once the agreement is signed, the clock will start ticking on the adoption of various reforms — such as the hiring of an independent compliance officer and community liaison to be the point person on the reforms, and the creation of a community oversight advisory board.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Portland City Attorney James H. Van Dyke signed the joint motion.
The signers called the agreement “fair, adequate and reasonable,” adding that it was “the most effective way to implement the systemic reforms needed to address the allegations in the Complaint.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. It will be up to the judge whether or not to hold a hearing on the plan before signing it.
Portland officials disagreed with the Justice Department’s findings on police use of force, according to legal documents filed Monday. They say the city entered the agreement, however, “to protect the constitutional rights of all members of the Portland community, to continuously improve the safety and security of the people in Portland, to keep PPB employees safe and to increase public confidence in PPB, all in a cost-effective, timely and collaborative manner.”
Marshall said she looks forward to continued work with the city, Police Chief Mike Reese and the community on implementing the mandated changes.
Perez, the assistant attorney general, said the negotiated reforms will improve Portland policing.
“I am confident that the reforms mandated by this Agreement will result in a Portland Police Bureau that provides police services in a constitutional manner and that better protects the community,” Perez said in a prepared statement.
Last month, Portland’s City Council unanimously voted to extend a tax to all land-line phone service providers, an idea that Mayor Sam Adams pushed to raise millions of dollars a year for the police reforms. The reforms are estimated to cost $3 million to $5 million a year.