People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
INDEPENDENT POLICE REVIEW 2017 ANNUAL REPORT
DROPS FORCE DATA
The "Independent" Police Review (IPR) released its 2017 Annual Report in mid-June. The oversight agency dropped charts on deadly and other kinds of force, changed how discipline is reported, and made it nearly impossible to track year-to-year progress. Rather than publish separate data tables, IPR launched a "dashboard" which allows some data to be downloaded, but lacks key information. The only statistic on Use of Force in the Report shows force complaints made up 13% of all allegations, yet there is no way to determine the outcome for those allegations. If any force allegations were dismissed, it could be a violation of the Settlement Agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). It also means when Portland Copwatch (PCW) put out its analysis of the Report on July 5, we could not update the total percentage of force allegations sustained since IPR began functioning in 2002: 0.8% as of 2016, meaning 99.2% have been found in policy. A few minor improvements include the return of a table listing most common allegations and an analysis of the over-representation of African American complainants.
The Citizen Review Committee (CRC), which is housed in IPR and hears appeals of misconduct cases, gets short shrift in the Annual Report (part of a pattern--see article). The Report never mentions the rare CRC appeal which went to City Council in February 2017 (PPR #71). Also, IPR originally mis-reported how many times CRC challenged all the findings in 2017 appeals-- they said three times rather than two-- but edited the report online the day after PCW's analysis pointed out the error.
IPR noted there were six officer involved shootings in 2017, but does not describe how many were fatal (two) nor the ethnicity of the suspects (three were African American-- including both fatalities). The question of persons with mental illness-- a key focus of the DOJ Agreement-- is not addressed anywhere in the Report.
A person checking the report for accuracy should be able to refer to raw data. However, since the new dashboard is constantly being updated, the information found online may already have been changed by the time the report was published. Therefore, IPR should go back to printing data tables with the Reports.
--IPR began expressing the "Sustain" rate in terms of individual allegations, showing misconduct was confirmed 13% of the time; however, they exclude cases which were not fully investigated. Including those would lead to a more accurate rate of only 3.6%.
--The table on discipline has always been about imposed discipline, but the new table only shows recommendations made by the Police Review Board (PRB), then says the PRB's findings were disregarded 23% of the time.
--The Report says 61% of cases were dismissed, a slightly higher percentage than 2016, later noting Internal Affairs declined to investigate 19 other cases. Thus, 67% of cases never received full attention.
This important document should easily allow a person to track all aspects of officer conduct, from rudeness to deadly force and discipline. Instead, PCW and others interested in police oversight have to do their own digging and record-keeping to watch the supposed watchdogs.
Find IPR's report at portlandoregon.gov/ipr/article/688263
Their data dashboard is at portlandoregon.gov/ipr/77205
Portland Copwatch's analysis: portlandcopwatch.org/iprannual2017analysis.html.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.