Portland Police Chief Mike Reese Scales Back Sergeant Investigations Into Use of Force to One Precinct

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Wednesday, March 07, 2012

New Portland Police Chief Mike Reese arrives at the scene of a shooting in Northeast Portland.View Full Size    Thomas Boyd / The Oregonian

New Portland Police Chief Mike Reese arrives at the scene of a shooting in Northeast Portland.

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese’s new directive expanding the role of sergeants in the bureau’s investigation of officer use of force has been scaled back to a pilot project in East Precinct.

The policy went into effect for East Precinct sergeants last Friday. They must write after-action reports for every officer’s use of force when it results in an injury, or a complaint of injury.

The chief had hoped to adopt the practice bureau-wide this January, as a result of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Since June, the federal agency has been investigating the bureau’s use of force, particularly against people suffering from mental illness.

But the chief put the directive on hold after the Portland Police Association – the union that represents rank-and-file officers, sergeants, criminalists and detectives – filed a grievance with the city on Jan. 6, objecting to it.

Officer Daryl Turner, union president, had urged the city to vacate the new policy, arguing that the city had to negotiate the impact on sergeants’ wages, hours, workload and safety. The union further urged the city to provide “no less than a 3 percent wage increase and 10 percent FTO (field training officer) pay” for all sergeants due to increased workload.

The pilot program at one of three of the bureau’s precincts is intended to allow the chief to determine the impact of the new duties on supervisors’ workload, East Precinct Capt. Mark Kruger said.

Between last Friday and Tuesday night, Kruger reported that East Precinct sergeants had been called to start three use of force investigations. Each averaged about three hours, Kruger said.

Currently, a patrol sergeant makes $85,051 after four years in the rank. A sergeant working in the investigative branch or criminalist division now receives 3 percent higher pay.

Turner declined comment on the pilot project.

Reese had signed the new directive Jan. 1 and initially told the bureau it would take effect Jan. 15. Sergeants received training the first two weeks of the new year to learn how to secure or photograph evidence, obtain statements from officers and witnesses and document it all in a use of force after-action report that’s to be forwarded to an assistant chief.

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