Portland Police’s Probe Of Humphreys Beanbag Shooting: ‘A Little Bit of Time’

From Willamette Week, January 15th, 2010

This week we reported that Portland Police internal-affairs detectives have yet to interview Officer Christopher Humphreys about shooting a 12-year-old girl with a beanbag gun two months ago.

The bureau is investigating Humphreys for possible violations of policy from the Nov. 12 beanbag shooting — a probe that brought hundreds of cops downtown to rally against Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman for taking Humphreys’ badge.

Saltzman later capitulated in the face of a no-confidence vote by the police union and returned Humphreys to desk duty.

Humphreys was also involved in the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr. If the bureau that took three-plus years to investigate Chasse’s death still hasn’t interviewed Humpheys for the beanbag probe two months later — and indeed, Humphreys hasn’t even been asked — how long might the beanbag probe take?

Months? Years?

“We have no idea,” says Detective Mary Wheat, spokeswoman for the police bureau. “It does take a little bit of time to make sure that we are thorough.”

It’s not only the public that has an interest in swift justice for Humphreys. During the Chasse probe, the police union repeatedly criticized Chief Rosie Sizer for leaving the officers involved hanging for years in uncertainty.

In the interest of all involved, we asked Sgt. Scott Westerman, head of the police union, to explain the “use of force review” currently under way in the Humphreys investigation.

The bottom line is this: Even if Humphreys were interviewed tomorrow, we’d still be a long way from a resolution. But if you’re thinking this explanation about the process will clear things up for you, please refer to the Tokyo subway map above.

Here’s Westerman’s explanation of the process, blow by blow:

1. Internal Affairs detectives investigate. (In this case, it’s retired Detective Lynn Courtney, who has a solid reputation among officers.)

2. The investigator writes a summary and forwards the entire investigation to the boss at Internal Affairs. (In this case, Capt. Ed Brumfield.)

3. Brumfield looks over the material and, if he approves, forwards it to Leslie Stevens, head of the police Office of Accountability and Professional Standards.

4. Stevens forwards the investigation to the city auditor’s Independent Police Review Division (which Stevens used to head).

5. IPR determines whether the case was thoroughly investigated.

6. IPR passes the case back to Stevens.

7. Stevens passes the case to Assistant Chief Brian Martinek.

8. Martinek passes the case to the officer’s precinct commander (in this case, Transit Division Commander Vince Jarmer.)

9. Jarmer makes a finding based on IA’s summary, proposing what he thinks is the appropriate discipline, or no discipline at all.

10. Jarmer forwards his finding and recommendation back to Martinek.

11. If Jarmer recommends there should be no discipline, or just a letter of reprimand or command counseling, and Martinek concurs, the case could be over. Or Martinek could send the case to a bureau review board.

12. On the other hand if Jarmer recommends heavier discipline of a day off or more and Martinek concurs, the case must go to either the bureau’s Performance Review Board or Use of Force Review Board for review.

13. The six-member or eight-member board meets and reviews the case.

14. The review board hands its recommendations on discipline to Sizer. The members may be unanimous, or each member of the board may have a different recommendation.

15. Sizer reviews those recommendations from the board.

16. If Sizer agrees the officer should be disciplined, she informs Humphreys of her proposed discipline.

17. Humphreys has the option of a due-process hearing where he can provide mitigating factors.

18. Sizer takes her own recommendation to Saltzman.

19. Saltzman makes the final call on discipline.