People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
The 2017 Oregon Legislature required Grand Jury proceedings be recorded. Grand Jury
proceedings are secret and the person accused is almost never allowed to tell their side of the story.
Usually, the only people allowed to appear before Grand Jurors are the District Attorney, the police
and witnesses to the event. Many people, including the American Civil Liberties Union, believe
Grand Juries are a major cause of racial and economic disparities in the Justice system. Rather than
record Grand Juries, in most "non-person" felony cases (about 84% of the time) the Multnomah
County District Attorney will now present cases to a Judge during a Preliminary Examination. The
accused person will be present at such hearings with their attorney. Many believe this is a more just
procedure, even though no money was set aside for defense attorneys to participate. Felonies
involving crimes against people-- including officer involved shootings-- will still go to the Grand
In contradiction to a 2012 study of the effects of police wearing cameras in Rialto, CA
(PPR #64), a 2017 study in Washington, DC determined body-worn cameras had
no statistically significant effects on police officer behavior.The study says the presence of
bodycams had no detectable effects as measured by arrests for disorderly conduct, police use of
force, or civilian complaints filed against police. Over 2200 officers were randomly assigned to
either wear a body camera or not, then researchers compared the two groups. This is one of the
largest and most rigorous studies on this issue to date. The Lab @ DC researchers state "Law
enforcement agencies (particularly in contexts similar to Washington, DC) that are considering
adopting [bodycams] should not expect dramatic reductions in documented uses of force or
complaints, or other large- scale shifts in police behavior, solely from the deployment of this
technology." They indicate more research would be helpful. The New York Times
(October 20) says that by 2015, 95 percent of large police departments reported they were using
body cameras or are committed to using them in the future, at an expense of over $40 million.
After City Council made Portland Police promise to involve the community in creating bodycam
policies (PPR #70), the issue seems to have stalled here.
On December 14, Officer Christian Berge pleaded guilty to on-duty sexual misconduct and agreed
to give up his certification (Oregonian, December 15).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.