After fourteen months of delay Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has re-opened the application process for the police reform oversight committee required in the settlement of US DOJ v. City of Portland.
It’s important people with the same experience as those harmed by police use-of-force be included on the committee, and their voices be protected and supported by all participants. The credibility of the decisions of the committee – and Portland’s police reform efforts – is at stake. But it’s hard to tell if that protection and support will be available from the limited information provided by the City. So on April 26 we asked a set of questions about the new Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing – the PCCEP. So far (May 5), no response.
The questions are basically same questions we asked in 2015 with the formation of the COAB. City hall employees, contractors and police were unwilling to answer the questions, or give assurance that voices of people with mental illness would be protected and supported. The result was those voices were pushed aside, diminished and derided, and finally ignored by both the COAB and the COCL. The result was new voices pushed forward, strident and disruptive voices, which a member of the COCL – Amy Watson – scolded and condemned in an op ed in the The Oregonian in 2016.
Watson finally resigned from the COCL last week.
We can’t recommend anyone participate on the PCCEP without an firm and defined assurance of support and protection – especially after the failure to support and protect voices in the past.
Here are our questions, sent on April 26. We’ll update this page if we receive a response.
Q: If there are police officers included as members of meetings or speaking at meetings, will those officers be in uniform and carrying guns? As you know these are both triggers to people who have experienced trauma.
Q: Is a visit to the police training center and a ride-around required?
Q: Are any experiential trips required for participants to learn about the experience of being a person with mental illness?
Q: Will participants be required to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement?
Q: Will participants be asked to “speak as a committee and not as an individual” about the committee’s work?
Q: Will there be a prohibition on speaking to the media or speaking at public events about the work of the committee?
Q: Will there be technical support for participants who are not computer savvy?
Q: Will the City provide an accommodation for people with mental illness, as defined in our text on public policy discussions?
Q: Will you have at least a draft of the governance of the meetings available to applicants? Will that governance express how conflicts are to be resolved?
Q: Can you tell if meetings will be at night or in the day?
Q: Will participants be able to take a temporary leave from the committee?
Q: Will there be stipends for low income participants to cover cost of travel, food, childcare, etc.?