Below is a letter we received from Chief Foxworth in June, 2005. He was replying to an email we sent in May, as a follow-up to a meeting we held in August, 2004.
Members of Portland Copwatch met with Chief Foxworth again in August, 2005, to go over many of these issues.
The most significant information was that Deputy City Attorney David Woboril explained that the reason the City of Portland believes officers can videotape people at demonstrations is that the statute (ORS 181.575) prohibits collecting information on people's religious, political or social affiliations, but if that is not the reason the police collect such information, they believe they are not violating the law.
Foxworth again deferred to the FBI for information about the Brandon Mayfield case, but agreed in principle to an annual review subject to a request from Mayor Potter and approval from the FBI.
On the subject of Tasers and positional asphyxia, the Chief agreed that training on how to handle suspects in custody was important, but the City Attorney stopped him short of even admitting there is such a thing as positional asphyxia!! Woboril explained that they believe in the "sudden death syndrome" which mysteriously only affects people in police custody.
We will post more about the August meeting in the weeks to come.
City of Portland, Oregon Bureau of Police
June 23, 2005
Dan Handelman and Mike Dee
Dear Dan and Mike:
Thank you for your email with questions regarding the Portland Police Bureau. I have provided answers to them below (in bold):
1a. Yes, we will continue to request that officers from other jurisdictions who partner with
us to have nametags [sic]. So far they have been complying with that request. We will consider
adding this to our crowd management directive when we amend it at a future date.
b) We observed two officers at May Day who were not wearing identification on their outermost garments as required by Directive 321.50. When asked, they identified themselves by name as McGrath DPSST #21146 and Nebling DPSST #37144. Their T-Shirts identified them as "Criminalists" and other people at the event determined they were from the "Identification Division."
They appeared to be videotaping the participants in the event, which amounts to collecting information on people for their social, religious or political affiliations, in apparent violation of ORS 181.575. After the long and protracted discussion over the oversight of the Bureau who were working with the FBI for the PJTTF, we would have hoped that all officers were aware of the "181" restrictions. We also wonder if their affiliation with "identification" means they were trying to match up faces to previous files they already had or to build new files on the people attending this workers' rights march.
1b. Both Criminalists were in their Identification Division uniform that has a grey Polo shirt with no nametag on it (which was an oversight on our part). ID/Criminalists will now use the class "C" uniform at protests, and we will routinely have our supervisors inspect police personnel for nametags.
Portland Police Officers comply with ORS 181.575 and do not investigate the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any person or group, or maintain information about such views, associations or activities, absent a criminal predicate. The Portland Police Bureau does not videotape public events to collect information about or document such views and activities. However, the Portland Police Bureau is responsible for policing many public events at which people display their views or associations and engage in political, religious or social activity. At such events, the Police Bureau is responsible for the detection and prosecution of any crimes that may occur. It also has a responsibility to the community to document its performance for internal review and to defend itself against unsupported claims of liability. The City may collect information to fulfill these responsibilities as long as it does not violate ORS 181.575.
After consultation with counsel, the Portland Police Bureau has recorded some portions of some public events in anticipation of litigation or criminal acts and for management review. This recording has not been surreptitious, it has captured only the publicly-displayed behavior of officers and participants, and it has occurred only at events that were overtly policed by uniformed officers.
If information about a criminal act is recorded at a public event, that record may be
maintained by the Police Bureau as evidence for investigation and possible prosecution consistent
with ORS 181.575. If no information about a criminal act is recorded, it is Police Bureau practice to
deliver the record to the Office of the City Attorney. The Police Bureau may not access records held
by the City Attorney without the approval of the City Attorney, and then only for purposes of
prosecution, training, education or performance evaluation and under the supervision of the City
c) Did the absence of the 19 officers in Washington DC prompt the need to call in other agencies on January 20?
No. The absence of 19 officers did not impact the staffing of the event. The Portland Police
Bureau works regularly with other agencies during large events. Standard procedure is to contact
the following organizations and ask for assistance: Oregon State Police, Beaverton Police
Department, Milwaukie Police Department, Vancouver Police Department, Tigard Police
Department and Tualatin Police Department.
d) Have you been able to create a directive calling for officers to present a business card upon any contact with a civilian?
Business cards are addressed in Directive 312.50. They are not required to be carried or
presented, but we will consider this suggestion when revisiting this directive.
2) Observing police actions:
Officers are trained to isolate an individual when they are taking him or her into custody.
This is done for officer safety reasons; for example, officers are concentrating on searching and
handcuffing an individual and cannot observe individuals around them and any threat they may
present. People are also kept back to prevent them from interfering in the arrest; people are not
arrested for observing police action. This is a difficult situation to try to balance the right for people
to view incidents, but also ensure officer safety.
3) Brandon Mayfield/PJTTF:
To obtain this information, you should request it from the federal government under the
Freedom of Information Act.
b) Would you support an annual public review of the PJTTF agreement which would include details on how many times (if any) the officers were called in for "Secret" or "Top Secret" investigations, and whether the City agreed to participate?
This question is no longer valid, as the Portland Police Bureau is not a member of the
4) Use of Force Review Board (UFRB):
The review of the Jahar Perez shooting case occurred under the old review system. However, three citizens, plus a representative from both the Portland Police Association and the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association were all allowed to attend the review and ask questions.
The findings were given to me and I am currently reviewing them. I will release it to the
public in the near future.
5a. Taser training and CIT training are two separate training issues. I don't believe that you can compare them with one another or with any other training.
We provide 40 hours of initial CIT training. In our last Advanced Academy, we also provided two days of CIT training (20 hours) to recruits. This year, we gave two hours of CIT training to every officer. In order to certify every officer, we would have to provide them with the 40-hour course; this is not a feasible option at this time.
We contacted Seattle Police Department and they give CIT officers 40 hours of initial training. They do not certify every officer, but they try to give each CIT officer 16 hours of refresher CIT training each year. They acknowledge, however, that they don't always get that training to every officer.
Seattle provides 6 hours of taser training and Portland provides 10 hours.
b) The new proposed Taser Directive has moved the restriction on use against those engaging in passive resistance to a hard-to-find place, and does not define passive resistance. Would you consider highlighting that exception?
5 b. I believe that the directive does provide all the information in an easy to understand
format and it now does define passive resistance. The Training Division produced a training roll call
video on the use of the Taser that was shown to all roll calls. Roll calls also discussed changes in
the directive to ensure officers understand all of the information in the directive.
c) Since the Association of Chiefs of Police advised against issuing Tasers to all officers, medical studies including one endorsed by Taser indicate that Tasers may contribute to deaths, and Taser is paying officers (including Portland's Tom Forsyth) to do trainings, will you reconsider the proliferation of Tasers?
5 c. The Training Division has spent three years researching the use of the Taser. There are many studies out there. I don't believe that the Association of Chiefs of Police advised against issuing Tasers to all officers and I cannot comment on the medical study you are referring to unless I know which one it is.
I directed the Portland Police Bureau to issue tasers to all uniformed officers because I believe this is a good less lethal tool. I believe it ultimately enhances safety for the community and for officers.
Officer Forsyth is no longer employed by Taser International and does not receive any money from them.
d) Does the training on Taser also include refresher training on positional asphyxia, as many
Taser- related deaths seem to be from people's inability to breathe due to police restraints after
5 d. Training does not include refresher training on positional asphyxia in relation to the taser. The subject of positional asphyxia has been provided in a separate training in years past, as it is not unique to persons who have been tased.
I know of no credible evidence which shows that persons tased are anymore [sic] likely to suffer positional asphyxia than persons who were not tased. There is some evidence that the comment "many Taser-related deaths seem to be from people's inability to breath [sic] due to police restraints after tasing" is accurate. These type of issues, however, will be reviewed by the Taser Medical Safety Committee.
e) Are the new X26 Tasers the yellow or black models?
6) Improving the IPR/CRC process and visibility:
The Independent Police Review Division is a separate Bureau from the Portland Police Bureau. It is critical tat we remain separate entities and that the IPR continues to operate independently. For me on behalf of the Portland Police Bureau to market IPR or interfere in their efforts in regard to public outreach could result in people perceiving that IPR is not independent.
The Police Bureau writes the disposition letters and then sends them to the IPR, who forwards them to the citizen involved. Suggestions regarding their procedures in regard to appeals forms should be discussed directly with IPR.
7) False police reports:
When there is an "insufficient evidence finding" it means just that. It is a wrong
assumption to say that an insufficient evidence finding means an officer wrote a false police report.
I know of no instance when this has occurred. The Police Bureau requires that officers report
truthfully. Truthfulness is critically important to the Police Bureau and lying has resulted in
8) Citizens Academy:
The Training Division has no plans to create a Citizen Academy that includes a curriculum as you suggest (interacting with homeless people or people of color) because the Citizen's Academy was intended to educate citizens on what police do and why we do it.
These types of issues that you discuss are incorporated into various different trainings that officers receive throughout their career. For example: The next Advanced Academy will include a "Citizen Panel" where recruits will get the opportunity to interact with citizens from various different backgrounds. The citizens for this training have not yet been selected, but may include persons from minority communities, homeless persons, persons afflicted by mental illness, etc. Police Corps graduates have had the opportunity to experience some of this training as well.
The next Advanced Academy will also include two days of Community Policing training. Because Community Policing is a shared responsibility between the police and the community, this new training will involve citizens training with recruit officers for these two days.
Thanks for your concerns and feedback; I hope that I have answered these questions sufficiently. If you have further questions, we can discuss them when we meet--I believe it is to be sometime in the coming weeks.
Page posted August 15, 2005