ANALYSIS: US DOJ AND COMPLIANCE OFFICER
Table of contents
FIND ALL BOXES CHECKED,
PORTLAND COPWATCH BELIEVES
SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE NOT REACHED February 2020
Community Engagement Issues
Employee Information System: Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River
a project of Peace and Justice Works
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
To: Compliance Officer/Community Liaison
US Department of Justice
cc: Hon. Judge Michael Simon
City of Portland including the Citizen Review Committee and PCCEP
AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and other community organizations
ANALYSIS: US DOJ AND COMPLIANCE OFFICER FIND ALL BOXES CHECKED,
February 12, 2020
PORTLAND COPWATCH BELIEVES SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE NOT REACHED
On January 15, the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison (COCL) issued
its second quarterly report in a row (
Report-DRAFT-01152020-7ypf.pdf ) finding that the City of Portland
is in "Substantial Compliance" with all the paragraphs of the US
Department of Justice (DOJ) Settlement Agreement on use of force. Days
later, on January 24, the DOJ released its own report ( https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6671539-DOJNOTICEJan242020.html
) finding, for the first time, that they too believe the City to be
in full compliance. The DOJ's report-- or its upcoming presentation to
Judge Michael Simon on February 25, it's not clear which-- sets in
motion a one-year period during which the City has to maintain
compliance to end the scrutiny of the federal government and Judge
Simon. Portland Copwatch (PCW), which has been tracking the Agreement's
progress since it was approved by Portland City Council in late 2012,
finds that both reviewing entities are still being far too generous. The
reports look mostly at the question of whether the City met the basic
mechanics outlined in the Agreement rather than the substantive meaning
which is supposed to transform the agency and its relationship to the
people of Portland. Key evidence of the lack of Substantial Compliance
include two major issues. First, that the promise of the Agreement is
for the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to stop using excessive force
against people in mental health crisis. The PPB shot and killed at least
three people in crisis in 2019, with numbers seemingly increasing after
the Agreement went into effect.*-1 One reason
the numbers of shootings seems to keep rising could be the attitude of
the DOJ and COCL (and City Attorney, Chief and Mayor) where they shrug
and tell the community that these things just happen sometimes. That
attitude is essentially a green light to use deadly force. Secondly, the
issue which precipitated the DOJ's involvement, community concerns about
racial profiling, is handled simply by the PPB delivering statistics
about traffic and pedestrian stop data to the Portland Committee on
Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP). While that group's name and the
entirety of Section IX of the Agreement are about Community Engagement,
the City seems unwilling or unable to actually engage in difficult
discussions, preferring instead to tell the community their perspective
and run away from controversy.
In addition, as mentioned in its June 4, 2019 letter to Judge Simon, PCW noted that "community
members in Portland who have witnessed or read about various deadly force incidents, taken note of the
PPB's over-policing of houseless persons, and/or attended demonstrations attacked by police do not have
the same feeling of progress as these two reviewing bodies."
In addition to failing to answer the questions about whether the PPB "checking the boxes" on the report
has led to any improvement in community trust, the two reports barely contain any statistics to prove their
assertions. The only chart in the DOJ's 23-page report shows the decrease in the number of days it takes
for misconduct cases to be investigated. The COCL's 38-page report does not contain a single chart,
graph or table of data, despite the consultants' racking up an average of $303,000 a year since being hired
in 2014.*-2 That figure inexplicably went up after the COCL was stripped of
any responsibility to manage the civilian bodies attached to the Agreement.
One of the overall questions raised by the reports: despite the inadequate attention to outcomes, the DOJ
and COCL have occasionally prompted immediate corrections by the Bureau; once they are gone, who
will be able to do this? Certainly it is apparent that institutionally, the police cannot be left to police
themselves, otherwise it would not have taken over 5 years to reach this so-called substantial compliance.
The new reports reveal both entities stopped the Bureau from training officers to use knives as a defensive
tactic-- because no policy existed guiding their use. The DOJ found a use of force misconduct
investigation which was dismissed even though there was not "clear and convincing evidence" (paragraph
129) that no force was used. The incident occurred in 2016 and the complainant ended up appealing the
findings to the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) in January 2020. That case was reviewed both internally
and by the "Independent" Police Review*-3, but dismissed when they could not figure out which of the 17 officers
involved handcuffed the complainant. The volunteer members of PCCEP do not have the time or
bandwidth to monitor the Bureau's ongoing compliance with these requirements. Someone must be given
authority to continue such work, preferably someone with actual ties to the Portland community who will
press the Bureau not just on these overt violations, but to be more attuned to the deeper problems of not
seriously addressing force, bias, and other issues.
The reports both give Substantial Compliance to the PCCEP and its work, which means it is likely that
Judge Simon will approve the amended Settlement Agreement at the February 25 hearing. Despite the
Agreement's shortcomings, Portland Copwatch does not object to the Agreement itself being finalized for
the purposes of evaluating compliance, but disagrees that PCCEP has met or can meet the expectations
outlined for them. For example, the only real power they were given was to pull forward policy reviews
out of sequence if they feel they need immediate attention. Not only has this never happened, but PCCEP
has rarely if ever commented on the policies (Directives) presented for public review. Furthermore, the
founding documents only allow them to flag a Directive for consideration if it is not related to the
It is also notable that only four of the original 13 members of PCCEP remain on the Committee, one of
whom has not been at a general meeting in several months. In addition to the many resignations by full
members, a number of alternates also removed themselves from the process before they were seated.
Because the two reports only focus on two areas (accountability and community engagement) there is no
discussion of various other ways in which the City's supposed Substantial Compliance does not serve to
build trust with the community. One example is that despite seven years of people urging a change, the
Behavioral Health Unit's Advisory Committee still does not hold meetings that are open to the public.
Portland Copwatch's analysis of the two reports below includes paragraph numbers from the Agreement
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(79) Regarding the Training Division's annual "needs assessment," PCW asked the question of whether
the Bureau was accepting community input from all over, or just the Training Advisory Council (TAC).
The COCL's report indicates that the TAC's input is considered the community input, exemplifying that
the Bureau is not engaged in broad outreach when looking for feedback.
PCW supports the COCL's caution to the Bureau that training about split-second decision making only
applies to a small number of encounters and there should be more focus on interpersonal skills. However
it's not appropriate that the COCL discusses "respectful treatment of 'difficult' people," since that implies
the person is the problem and takes the focus off the community member's behavior.
The COCL praises the Bureau for making public its evaluation reports about trainings, citing the example
of the 2019 In-Service Supervisory Training report from October 2019. However, visiting the Training
Division's website ( https://portlandoregon.gov/police/64480 ), that report is not posted, only one for 2018
dated March of 2019. Since the Training Division has a public arena through the Training Advisory
Council, they should announce the publication of these reports in TAC agendas and at the meetings.
There is no point in making reports public if nobody knows they exist, especially since one topic area
from 2019's trainings-- Crowd Management-- has again become a flashpoint in Portland in recent years.
(80) The COCL claims that finding out how officers are applying their training out on the streets can be
revealed through the audit of force incidents, but also acknowledges more information is needed. But they
inadequately use as an example the Bureau's contact survey done through the National Police Foundation,
which found officers were respectful, fair and compassionate. This survey was only for people who were
reported crime victims, not people who were pulled over in traffic, cited or arrested. While it is important
that people who call the police be surveyed, but these results are not by any means comprehensive.
(84) The COCL declares there has been a "dramatic" improvement in training over the five years they
have been observing the PPB. This may be true, but in that same time there has also been an increase in
the rate at which Portland Police are shooting suspects. From 2005-2009, only 15 people were subjected
to deadly force by on-duty officers. From 2010-2014, while the DOJ investigation was initiated and the
Agreement was being finalized, that number was 23 people, a 53% increase. From 2015-2019, there were
27 deadly force incidents, a 17% increase over the previous five years, and a total increase of 80% since
the late 2000s. So how is this training acting to lower the use of force against people, especially those in
mental health crisis? PCW also has noted that while Chief Resch asked the PCCEP for help in lowering
the amount of gun violence in Portland, every one of the six people shot or shot at by the PPB in 2019
had an edged weapon, not a gun.
That said, this is also the paragraph which requires the PPB's training to match its policies, and where the
DOJ and COCL noted there was no policy on the use of knives, leading the Bureau to halt its knife
training. The Bureau now tells officers their knives are tools for practical matters such as cutting people
out of seatbelts and can only be used as weapons as a defensive tactic if deadly force would be
authorized. It's not clear how the timing of these classes coincided with the death of Andre Gladen, a
legally blind African American man in mental health crisis, who was shot by a Portland officer in January
2019 after Gladen supposedly grabbed the officer's knife from an outer pouch on his bullet proof vest.
(86) In remarking on issues about analyzing Use of Force incidents, the COCL says that communication
issues between the PPB's Training Division and the Training Advisory Council have "been addressed."
To some extent this is true, as the COCL reports the Bureau has accepted TAC's recommendation that the
PPB must respond to their recommendations within 60 days. What is not addressed, however, is that one
of the suggestions which took over six months to prompt a reply was TAC asking for demographic data
to be included in quarterly Force reports, to give an idea of the contrast between who is having force used
on them vs. who lives in Portland. For the record, 25-31% of people subjected to force are African
American in a city that is 6% black. The Bureau's long wait resulted in a refusal to adopt the TAC's
reasonable recommendation, even if the data were to include a caveat stating the Bureau prioritizes looking
at the ratio of force used to persons taken into custody. It is likely they are reluctant to even put in that
disclaimer because it raises the question of why so many more African Americans are taken into custody
by police than their representation in the population.
The COCL writes about how the Force Inspector identified issues in certain incidents for correction in
Bureau policy/training. One was whether the City's agreement with Taser*-4
is consistent with the Bureau's policy. There is no further information about what the exact question is
about, but PCW has had deep concerns both about the conductive energy weapons and the profit-driven
manufacturer since they were introduced in the 2000s. There is also an issue about suspects getting "self
inflicted head injuries," to be resolved by letting supervisors carry padded helmets. There doesn't seem to
be any part of the "healthy dialogue" prompted by these ideas about whether some officers have been
following the directive of President Trump, who told police chiefs in July 2017 not to cover people's
heads when they load them into police cars.
PCW would take issue with the characterization that the Bureau's working relationship with the TAC as
"good," since members have complained that many of their recommendations are being responded to
positively but then being shelved rather than implemented. Even with the promise of quicker replies to the
recommendations, pushing back the Council's priorities foments discouragement. The PPB blamed
"miscommunication" to why the Bureau took so long to respond to previous recommendations.
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(121) The DOJ relies on the COCL's numbers to show that Internal Affairs has met the hard deadline of
180 days to investigate misconduct 94.4% of the time, while the "Independent" Police Review*-3 has
only met that goal 85.4% of the time. Even though the Agreement is clear that no case should take over
180 days, the DOJ and COCL both find this is good enough. To be fair, PCW agrees that speed should
not trump accuracy, however, the question of whether the outcomes of the cases is accurate-- or building
community trust-- is not addressed. In fact, neither body appears to have spoken with a single
complainant/appellant about their experience with the system, only noting that the cases were mostly all
decided based on a preponderance of the evidence (169). It is notable that the 94.4%/85.4% are
significantly up from June 2019 when the numbers were 73% and 55%.
The DOJ report outlines a few specific cases that ran over the deadline, including one where an Assistant
Chief sent the case back for more investigation, a number of cases that were held up by the Bureau of
Human Resources (BHR)'s involvement (which, allegedly, will not be an issue moving forward), and one
case that went for 236 days without a valid excuse. There was also one case that sat in the Chief's office
for 47 days even though there was "no misconduct" involved. The DOJ claims that one anomaly is not
indicative of a larger problem, but these are multiple problems, and PCW would note that strings of
anomalies across the various requirements show the Bureau is not able to live up to its obligations.
One of the BHR cases involved supervisors who failed to report a "derogatory sexually explicit remark"
in December 2016. That case did not reach the Police Review Board (PRB) until January 2019. As a
result, the discipline was not as severe as it could have been because the delay was considered a mitigating
factor. Incidentally, the discipline was a one week suspension, as revealed in the PRB's December 2019
(122) The COCL's report reveals that, presumably over the course of 2019, there were 42 concurrent
criminal and administrative investigations of officers. Even if that includes all 13 deadly force incidents
from those two years, that means at least 29 other cases involved officers suspected of criminal activity.
The public deserves to know more about these investigations. There were delays in two cases, which the
COCL again chalks up to "communication issues."
(124) Apparently, the Bureau updated its Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Deadly Force and
concurrent criminal/administrative investigations in August 2019. However, since those SOPs are not
readily available to the public, the COCL should include them in the report and/or they should have been
shared out at the time they were updated.
(127) Both DOJ and COCL continue to find the City in compliance for asking officers involved in deadly
force incidents to give a walk through of the scene to investigators, even though since 204, every officer
has declined to do so based on their lawyers' advice.
(128 and 129) The problem with the force case that was improperly dismissed despite the lack of "clear
and convincing evidence," issues with BHR, and other issues around investigations led the IPR to create a
new guideline for handling such cases on January 10, just days before the COCL report was published.
Even though IPR is represented at Citizen Review Committee meetings and CRC is supposed to advise
IPR on its operations, no mention of the new protocol was made in the January 8 Director's report to
CRC. Similarly, IPR apparently came up with new guidelines for when a person's complaint is about the
Bureau's practices and policies rather than individual officer behavior, which was sent to the Mayor in
September-- but this policy was not discussed or divulged at any CRC meeting.
Interestingly, DOJ notes that one thing delaying IPR investigations is their lack of access to the Law
Enforcement Data System (LEDS). There appears to be a difference of opinion about whether a state law
or state policies would have to be changed to allow the agency to access that database, since IPR is not a
law enforcement group. It seems with all the lawyers involved-- City Attorney, Auditor's attorney, DOJ--
that someone should be able to figure this out easily.
(130) While the DOJ Agreement requires the PPB to prohibit retaliation specifically against people who
file misconduct complaints, it is unfortunate that the discussion of this requirement did not include a
mention of the Citizen Review Committee case that led to a Sustained finding for a retaliation allegation.
The Appellant in that case had made a face at an officer driving an armored vehicle, and took photos.
Rather than engage the Appellant in dialogue to see what she was doing, the officer had a nearby
Lieutenant issue her a jaywalking ticket. CRC found this was retaliation, based on the officer's own
testimony, and, for the first time in the history of CRC, City Council agreed to find the officer out of
policy. The lack of attention to that case is reflective of both DOJ and COCL's broader failure to
adequately report on CRC's activities.
(132) The Agreement empowers the Police Review Board, which meets behind closed doors (unlike
CRC) to send cases back for further investigation, requiring the Bureau to respond. The DOJ notes only
that this authority is listed in the Directive guiding the PRB (336.00), while the COCL correctly points
out that this requirement is not yet incorporated in City Code. In fact, COCL points out that the City
missed an opportunity to fix that problem when they amended the Code last August to clarify which cases
at the PRB should involve CRC members. PCW made this observation as well, but was ignored by
Council. This may seem picayune, but the reality is that the law is much harder to change than the policy.
Furthermore, several years ago with regard to the PRB, Chief Rosie Sizer infamously told IPR she did
not have to invite them to a Review Board hearing per the Directive because, she said, "I am the Directive."
Codifying the change will prevent such abuse of authority.
(133) A surprising statistic is that there have been no findings of civil liability for officer misconduct in
court since September 2014. Regardless of whether a judge/jury finds liability or whether the City
chooses to settle a case out of court, the same criteria should apply that IPR or Internal Affairs should
examine these cases to be sure officers are held accountable for misconduct, rather than a negotiated
exchange of money serving as a way to end discussion around the underlying behavior.
(134) The COCL claims that their "observation" is that the CRC has a diverse membership. This sounds
as if the COCL attended multiple CRC meetings, which they did not. More likely, like the DOJ, the
COCL merely looked at the CRC's membership list on line.
(135 and 136) These paragraphs allow CRC to (continue to) determine findings are not reasonable if they
are not supported by the evidence, and to send cases back for more required investigation by the Bureau.
Both DOJ and COCL assert full compliance, but neither entity has attended multiple meetings, and
neither one enumerates the cases in which CRC made recommended changed findings. COCL notes that
CRC did not send any cases back for more investigation in 2019 (which is unusual, but they also had a
small case load), but does not comment on the cases where they did so in the past. CRC did send a case
back in September 2018 for more investigation, and it came back to the Committee in February 2019.
Moreover, in claiming CRC finds some of the Bureau's proposed outcomes "unreasonable," the COCL
does not include a single example. In 2019, there was the City Council hearing previously mentioned, as
well as case #2019-x-0003, heard in December, in which CRC recommended a "Sustained" finding that
an officer failed to do his duty when a woman tried to report her car stolen. Additionally, even though
Chief Outlaw agreed when CRC found an officer was untruthful when he told a civilian he could be
arrested for video-recording the police (2018-x-0005), she later changed the allegation to be about
performance rather than truthfulness. This meant the officer's discipline was minor, as opposed to
termination which is automatic when cops lie.
(137) It's not clear why the DOJ did not reference the case called out by the COCL in which a supervisor
failed to properly apply the discipline guide to a misconduct finding. COCL reports this was because the
supervisor disagreed with a Sustained finding and used that as a mitigating factor in applying discipline.
There is no mention about whether that supervisor was held to account, only that this one inconsistency
did not indicate an ongoing violation of the Agreement.
(140) This may be more of a lack of detail by COCL than a step backward, but the Q4 report states that
complainants are provided a description of how to appeal findings on their complaints, while PCW
pushed for many years and finally got IPR to include appeal forms with the disposition letters. We hope
those forms are still being provided, especially after IPR cut the appeal window from 30 days to 15.
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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ISSUES
(141 & 144) The DOJ reports that PCCEP met in locations three times when there wasn't enough internet
bandwidth to livestream the meetings, so they posted video a few days later.
(142) The DOJ states that "citizens" participate in the process of selecting PCCEP members. However,
the revised policies designed to speed up appointments now makes it possible that only one community
member might be involved. The guidelines say that one or both co-chairs of PCCEP shall, while a
member of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform (AMAC), and/or a
member of the Mental Health Alliance may be involved. In other words, while as many as four
civilians can help screen applicants, these guidelines could allow just one PCCEP member to do so.
COCL claims that PCCEP "has the authority to hold PPB accountable for tactics and strategies linked to
public trust." Portland Copwatch has read the PCCEP's founding documents and attended all their
meetings, and is very interested to hear the COCL's analysis of exactly how this alleged authority is
described and how it will work.
Also, COCL says that they "observed" PCCEP in Q4 2019, though as far as we know COCL personnel
were only at the October meeting. It is possible they watched the meetings streaming online, but the fact
that almost everyone involved in the COCL team does not live in Portland has been a sore spot from day
one. As a side note to that problem, COCL mentioned that one problem with the Community Oversight
Advisory Board (COAB), which preceded the PCCEP, was how the meetings were chaired. What's not
mentioned is that the COCL's staff people chaired those meetings, which is partly why PCCEP running
its own meetings has led to a more self-governed group.
PCCEP is also required to put out quarterly reports, but the COCL only mentioned two being prepared in
2019: in March and July. It is possible the group is already behind on its "deliverables" in year one.
(143) In terms of the diversity of PCCEP's membership, it is notable that the COCL continues to
recognize that only four members of the PCCEP are women. With the two young men just appointed to
fill the empty seats in February, this remains an issue.
(144) PCW is concerned that the role of a PCCEP staff Community Organizer has not been filled and,
according to the report, the PCCEP is not sure that is the best use of resources (paragraph 142 COCL
analysis). They are considering getting a legal advisor instead, though it is not clear why that would need
to be a full time position. Given that the 13 member group (which did not have a full membership between
June 2019 and February 2020) is all-volunteer, we hope that the group will push for a community
organizer to help them with outreach and engagement. Even if dozens of people are recruited to come to
meetings and only attend once, it is better for PCCEP to touch the lives of as many Portlanders as
possible than to think that volunteers who also have to continuously hold meetings and produce
recommendations/reports can also conduct all the outreach necessary to thrive.
(145) The DOJ claims that the Community Engagement plan is part of the PPB's five year strategic plan,
and includes a link to the Bureau's website. That page, however, includes information last updated in May
2019 about the as-yet-unfinished plan, and no substance about what the plan entails. The COCL also says
the Plan has been completed, though we have not seen evidence of that.
The COCL's report (in analyzing paragraphs 141 and 142) says the Community Engagement Plan was
approved by City Council in August, even though that happened (as noted in the DOJ report and
elsewhere in COCL's) in October. And while Portland Copwatch pointed out the word "accountability"
does not appear anywhere in the plan both at the PCCEP and Council meetings, the plan was not changed
to make that a focus of community engagement.
The COCL also claims that the plan involves more than just photos of cops and kids, which is an astute
observation given how many such photos show up on police social media platforms and the Bureau's
annual report. However, the claim that they engage and talk about problems such as housing, domestic
violence and English as a Second Language in a "genuine manner" isn't necessarily reflected in every
community. There are still a lot of people in this City who hesitate before calling the police as they fear
the outcome could be someone getting killed rather than getting help.
(146) The annual community survey conducted for just the third time in five years in 2019 (since
COAB's demise derailed the 2017 and 2018 versions) allegedly "informed" the Community Engagement
plan, but the COCL provides no example of how that might be true. The DOJ just says future surveys
might be used to refine the Bureau's engagement efforts.
(147) Setting aside the irony that the Bureau gladly uses US Census data to determine demographics in
each precinct, while claiming those data are inaccurate when it comes to Use of Force and Traffic Stops,
the DOJ notes that the precinct demographic data are available on the PCCEP website with a direct link.
For anyone who has tried to find a document on that website, this is very helpful, as the documents seem
to be arranged in a completely random way. More to the point of lack of full compliance, the Bureau
sharing those data with the PCCEP, in the same way they "share" the stop data, is meaningless if there is
no discussion of the data, what they mean, or how the Bureau can learn from them during public PCCEP
meetings. COCL claims that the data being shared with PCCEP was done to "inform its work" (in
quotes), again without giving an example of how this happened.
(148) The DOJ notes that in addition to the stop data, which we've noted were shared with PCCEP but
never discussed, the Bureau has an open data portal with supposedly searchable information about
Officer Involved Shootings and Use of Force. However, PCW tried on several computers using several
browsers and was unable to get the portal to function (in early February 2020).
With regard to the stop data, the COCL claims the data are "designed to address concerns about
discriminatory policing." What PCW would like that sentence to mean is that the police will stop
discriminating against people who are not white or otherwise conformative to predominant social norms.
What the COCL means is that the Bureau addresses concerns by bending the data to claim that no such
discrimination is going on. In fact, the COCL goes so far as to claim there is an "absence of racial/ethnic
differences in stops" even though the data show 17% of traffic stops are of African Americans in a city
that is 6% black. The State of Oregon released a report showing the disparity in Portland was the worst of
all the jurisdictions currently collecting data. As with at least one previous report, the COCL praises the
Bureau for their supposed in-depth analysis, which compares crime victimization rates to traffic stops, as
if being a victim of crime makes it more likely that you are committing a traffic infraction. It is baffling
that the COCL calls the PPB's benchmarks "relevant" and "reasonable." The Bureau has no explanation
why 17% of the pedestrian stops are also of African Americans. PCW has conceded in the past that using
the benchmark of traffic accident data, which shows 13% of people in car crashes are African American,
might be valid-- but still doesn't explain the 4% statistically significant difference in stops and crashes.
In a rare inclusion of actual data, the COCL notes that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are
subjected to consent searches at twice the rate of other people. The COCL also acknowledges that there
are "some disparities in searches for Black/African American drivers and pedestrians that deserve more
attention" and "closer examination." The only guidance they give for solutions are to hope that the Bureau
will "explore the reasons why officers are conducting different types of searches with different groups,"
and "explore the training implications of the current findings to make officers more sensitive to issues of
bias and stereotyping." They could also say "stop over-searching people of color."
(149) The DOJ and COCL's metrics for determining whether Community Outreach and Engagement are
meeting their goals include how the PPB provides services. As we have written before, these criteria must
be clear that officers should not go out and make stops or hand out tickets as a form of Community
Engagement. Rather, the reviewers and the Bureau should be clear that when such law enforcement
actions occur, the behavior of the officer matters in the same way it does during non-enforcement
One item listed as a community engagement example is the Bureau doing training with the Metropolitan
Washington DC police. Perhaps this was some kind of community engagement training, but the DOJ's
report does not say that. If not, it is not clear what this has to do with engaging Portlanders and building
(150) Both DOJ and the COCL credit the Bureau for getting the 2018 annual report drafted by July
2019, then holding the required meetings in each of the City's three precincts and at City Council.
However, as PCW noted in the analysis of the COCL's October report, there was no public
announcement of the first meeting in North Precinct, one day's notice for East Precinct, and eight days
notice for both the Central Precinct and Council meetings. A community member who attended the East
Precinct report noted there was a low turnout, and that the police only wanted to talk about the parts of the
report focusing on their geographic area. Worse, because Mayor Wheeler, the Police Commissioner, has
a blanket policy against taking public testimony on Reports, the only reason the public was able to
comment on the Annual Report at Council was that it was heard simultaneously with the Community
Engagement Plan. It is certainly not in the spirit of the Agreement to hold meetings where the public isn't
invited, or isn't invited to ask questions or provide feedback.
Tellingly, though this process has been officially underway since 2014, the metrics to gauge outreach
success are still being finalized, according to the COCL. The COCL's report also "trusts" that PCCEP
will ensure the Engagement plan meets the expected outcomes of public involvement, communication,
access to police services and training for diversity. It is not clear how the volunteer group, whose work is
advisory (not binding) will be able to do so.
The COCL also refers to City Council presentations as a form of outreach, ignoring that many times there
are presentations given as "reports" where the Mayor will not allow community input, and/or
presentations at Work Sessions where the public is not allowed to speak regardless of who moderates the
meetings. Nonetheless, the COCL finds the Bureau's ability to receive feedback "impressive."
There is another reference in this section to the National Police Foundation's survey, which as we noted in
our analysis of Paragraph 80, only went to crime victims, so is too narrow to give a holistic picture.
(151) The COCL notes that they have held town halls quarterly with PCCEP, which is true. The "Town
Hall" to discuss this new report (which touts the PCCEP/COCL town halls) has been scheduled for 4:30
PM on a Wednesday afternoon during a PCCEP subcommittee meeting, which does not make it easy for
people working regular hours to participate/attend.
(169) The COCL reviewed 20 complaints and found no unreasonable findings attached, including closed
cases, those sent to supervisors for minor infraction reviews, and those fully investigated. Considering
just the smattering of cases that come to the Citizen Review Committee, PCW thinks this shows how the
term "unreasonable" is subjective. As we noted in our analysis of the DOJ and COCL reports in June
2019, "based on IPR's statistics, ... only 1% of Force allegations have been sustained since IPR began
functioning in 2002-- 32 Sustained findings out of 2122 allegations filed."
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The DOJ's report peters out at the end of their analysis of paragraph 152 with no real conclusion, despite
the issues at stake in finding the City in Substantial Compliance. Perhaps that is because, deep down, the
DOJ recognizes that they are leaving the City of Portland in only slightly better shape than we were in
nearly nine years ago when they began their pattern and practice investigation. Portland Copwatch
remains deeply concerned that the focus of the people managing the Agreement is whether or not the PPB
has put in place training, policies and data-tracking practices, not whether there is actual trust built in the
institution which purportedly protects and serves the community. Such trust will come in part when
people of color and people with mental health issues are treated equally and fairly.
*1- See PCW's analysis of the 2019 OIR Group report on deadly force incidents at
http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/shootings_analysis_0219.html where we noted numbers in the OIR
groups numbers show that 55% of cases they examined before 2012 involved mental health issues while
65% of cases after that date involved people in crisis.
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*2- Data from the City's website compiled by Mental Health Association of Portland. One year's worth
of this money would fund Portland Copwatch's work for roughly 35 years.
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*3- IPR isn't truly independent because they have to rely on the Bureau to compel officer testimony.
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*4- Taser is now known as Axon.
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*5- See the PRB report at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/749217 and Portland
Copwatch's analysis at http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/PRBanalysis1219.html .
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Posted February 12, 2020, updated February 20, 2020