Portland Copwatch Analyzes Compliance Officer Report on US DOJ Agreement May 2022Table of contents
FORCE: More Force on People in Mental Health Crisis
TRAINING: While Waiting for Explanation of Crowd Slides, Other Issues Persist
OVERSIGHT: Problems Persist, Leading to New Violations
MENTAL HEALTH / CRISIS INTERVENTION : Committee Urged to Review Shootings; Response Team Looking Good
EMPLOYEE INFORMATION SYSTEM: Unclear Why Two Sections Got Green Light
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: City's Lack of Staff Support Continues Compliance Failure
NEW REMEDIES: COCL Gets a Head Start
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To: Compliance Officer/Community Liaison
NEW COMPLIANCE REPORT SHOWS SOME IMPROVEMENT, BUT MORE POLICE
The Compliance Officer/Community Liaison (COCL), the consultants who review whether Portland is properly following the 2012 US Department of Justice (DOJ) Settlement Agreement calling for the police to use less force, released a new draft quarterly Report covering the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021 in mid-April.*-1 In the previous Report, they found the City was still out of compliance with 18 of about 90 actionable paragraphs. This time, despite moving four of those sections back into "Substantial Compliance," the COCL moved three others to "Partial" (for a total of 17) and hinted that another was at risk. While Portland Copwatch (PCW) does not agree with all of the Report's conclusions, the window into what is really going on with the city's paramilitary law enforcement department once again offers insights into problematic actions, patterns and attitudes.
Weighing in at a whopping 210 pages, the new Report returns to a format abandoned by the COCL in 2020*-2 which included a "Report Card." While still imperfect (since it does not hint at the substance of the paragraphs), the new Report Card summarizes the COCL's recommendations for the Bureau regardless of whether the section is in full compliance or not. It also returns to an earlier practice of including sometimes lengthy summaries of each paragraph's substance in the body of the Report, one reason for the bloated size. However, the charts and graphs reporting outcomes are few and far between, with most of the hard data reserved for an appendix examining Use of Force-- the heart of the Agreement. Unfortunately, even though the PPB used deadly force eight times in 2021-- a rate not seen since 2006-- the COCL barely touches on the issue at all, certainly not in the outcomes appendix.
The draft Q3 2021 Report was released soon after the City revealed not only that it had discovered a training presentation showing violent, racist and improper advice about handling crowds, but had covered up the existence of that slide show for four months. The revised Q3 Report made reference to the training slides, and the new draft repeats in several places that the Training Division is responsible to review all training under Bureau policy 1500.00, but failed to do so. Yet, because there is still an ongoing internal investigation by the PPB, the COCL is still holding off on commentary.
A huge development is that the COCL is threatening to remove the formerly teacher's pet-rated Behavioral Health Unit Advisory Committee from Substantial Compliance for its failure (and refusal) to examine deadly force incidents involving people in mental health crisis. Since the Agreement's focus on force specifically focuses on people who have, or appear to have mental health issues, this is a welcome step forward-- and evidence that the PPB was never in full compliance with the DOJ in 2020 in the first place.
Significantly, on April 29, Judge Michael Simon approved eight new paragraphs to the Agreement, bringing the total requiring scrutiny to about 98. Since the entirety of "Section XI" was not in place during Q4 2021, the COCL only touches on the new paragraphs lightly.
The intent of PCW's analysis is to bring forward some of the most important pieces of information the community should know rather than retreading every issue raised in past critiques. In other words, what is included here is not meant to be exhaustive. We have included paragraph numbers in (parentheses) and COCL Report page numbers in [brackets].
FORCE: More Force on People in Mental Health Crisis
The reason the PPB remains out of compliance for nine out of 12 paragraphs in the Force section of the Agreement is their failure to adequately assess or address the 6000+ uses of force at protest actions in 2020. The DOJ asked the Bureau to have an outside review done in early 2021; the PPB did their own assessment patting themselves on the back for a job well done. When a job announcement was finally posted in 2021, the Compliance Officer was not asked to review the substance of what was being requested [p. 14]. In our analysis of the Q3 Report we asked whether the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing was allowed to review that document; the likely answer is also no. The outside assessment is required by new paragraph 189.
Setting aside this now-two-year-old problem, data presented by the COCL show that in general, people in mental health crisis are up from about 8% of those subjected to force to about 17% [p. 195]. As usual, the COCL doesn't talk about data in the quarterly Force reports which show 22- 30% of people against whom police use force are African American in a city that's 6% Black.*-3 This is particularly notable because the Q4 data are the only recent ones showing 22%. Most other quarters have been 25% or more. Moreover, regarding people in crisis, the Report shows the average number of force uses went up from 2.0 to 2.3 [p. 197].
Results from the PPB's internal analysis on force at protests are included in the Training section of the COCL Report. They say that only 5 of 142 investigations found use of force out of policy [p. 48]. Portland Copwatch's review of Police Review Board (PRB) reports, which are supposed to capture any misconduct that can lead to discipline, only show three force cases found out of policy-- all by the Chief's office overturning the PRB. Two had to do with misuse of less lethal weapons, and one with pepper spray.*-4
The COCL notes that the Bureau's assessment did not examine problems with force reporting and management of force (both in the Agreement), but PPB said that was not intended to be part of their review [p. 48].
Part of the failure to comply with the Force requirements also involves needing to change the Use of Force policy to prevent repeats of the behaviors seen in 2020. While the COCL tells the police those changes have to be based on the as-yet-unfinished assessment, they also think that modifications to the force policy (Directive 1010.00) will fix problems in compliance [p. 28] (67). Of great concern is that the proposed changes to 1010.00 which were published in March include moving rules for less lethal weapons to a new Directive (1015.00), removing the guidelines of when officers are supposed to use Tasers that the COCL references on p. 29. So needless to say Portland Copwatch is not convinced these changes will improve matters. The COCL acknowledges that neither 1010.00 nor the policy on Crowd Control (635.10) have been finalized [p. 50].
The COCL makes an important observation that sometimes when supervisors are investigating force, they respond to some conduct with informal counseling and others with full investigations, but the criteria to decide which is which are not clear (70) [pp. 32, 36 and 37]. They repeat a concern from Q3 that the Employee Information System (EIS), which merely documents such informal discussions, is being used as a substitute for holding officers accountable for misconduct [p. 36].
Higher up the chain of review, the Bureau's Force Inspector did not conduct two important tasks: forwarding information on deficient supervisor reviews to the appropriate people (77) [p. 39], and analyzing trends of officers or groups of officers who use force (76) [p. 41]. On p. 132 in the section on the EIS the COCL says the Inspector merely sent raw numbers to precinct managers without analysis (116/117).
Specific data around force are mostly included in "Appendix B," and show some continuity in trends but lack of analysis in others. For instance, the "force to custody ratio," or how many times police use violence when detaining/arresting people, used to be about 3% until mid-2020, then it climbed to 7%, but is now down to about 4% [p. 193]. It's not exactly clear how that's possible since uses of force seem to be up but custodies went down from 5000 or more in 2017 to about 3000 since mid-2020 [p. 194].
Even though it's stated that most uses of force are in Category IV (the lowest level), the Report shows that category only made up 43% of force while Category III (the next most serious) was 47%. Category II (one level below deadly force) was at 10%, which the COCL says is the lowest since 2019 [p. 198]. However, they don't examine the raw numbers, which were not made available in the Report. For people with mental illness, the numbers are quite different: 65% Category IV, 20% Category III, but 16% Category II [p. 200]. While this number was also high in Q2 and Q3, there is no analysis of why so much higher force is used on people in crisis. It also must be stated that Category I, Use of Deadly Force, at least three out of eight people (38%) shot in 2021 had mental health issues.
On the bright side, if they're to be believed, the Portland Police did not use force against people who were in crisis and were only passively resisting them in all of 2021 [p. 201].
We thank the COCL for removing the word "only" from the Q3 report, which originally said "only" 14 of 64 people with mental illness on whom Conductive Energy Weapons (CEWs, aka Tasers) were used were unarmed. The new Report puts that at 12 out of 70 people but says "for the majority of those events (82.9%), officers are not using CEW against unarmed individuals" [p. 203]. But 17% is a large amount of people being subjected to 50,000 volts of electricity with force the courts say should be reserved for when there is an immediate threat to people's safety.
The COCL concludes that Tasers are used "infrequently" or "sparingly" even though the PPB deployed them 395 times in five years [p. 203], or an average of once every 15 days.
TRAINING: While Waiting for Explanation of Crowd Slides, Other Issues Persist
Though it wasn't clearly listed before, the COCL has marked paragraph 78 out of compliance, since it is an overall requirement for the Bureau's training to meet constitutional standards. Two of the paragraphs remain out of compliance because the annual training plan doesn't address the problems with force used on crowds in 2020 (79) and the training to do so hasn't been designed or implemented, awaiting the external assessment (84). In the meantime, the PPB is using some crowd training materials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), though the COCL wisely points out there's no way to know if it fixes the problems without that report being done [p. 16].*-5
The Bureau also made their own list of items to address crowd control which the COCL reports is 14 pages long, single spaced and doesn't prioritize [pp. 16 and 49].
As noted above, the COCL calls out the Bureau for not enforcing the policy which requires the Training Division to approve all materials [pp. 18 and 50] as evidenced by the slide show containing racist images (calm protestors are white, violent protestors are people of color) and belittling protestors, suggesting they deserve to be hurt. While it's stated again that the COCL (and DOJ) did not know about the slide show until January 2022, as noted in our last analysis, both entities should have taken an interest in police training on protests early on. The Agreement focuses on use of force, which is a large part of how the PPB engages in crowd control. Similarly, the COCL implies they have never looked at training for the K-9 unit, claiming it's not connected to the Agreement [p. 19]. This is strange since the police dogs trained to bite suspects are guided by Directive 1010 on Use of Force.
One remedy for crowd training that's being considered is to hire a full time trainer specializing in the field; the COCL thinks they may need more than one [p. 49], which seems excessive unless daily protests resume, and maybe not even then.
The annual training plan is supposed to include community input. The COCL says that input came in the form of the Training Advisory Council (20 or so community members who rarely have audience comments from anyone other than PCW) and media coverage [p. 47]. This is an appallingly narrow way to consider community engagement. The 2022 plan, by the way, was released in December, giving very little time for the DOJ or COCL to review it before classes began [pp. 49-50].
Training that is listed includes supervisors intervening with problem employees [p. 17], 60 hours of training for the new Focused Intervention Team,*-6 [p. 50], eight hours (minus two hours of breaks) on bystander intervention [p. 70], Tasers, control tactics, firearms, legal, patrol scenarios, procedural justice, crisis intervention, emergency entry, vehicles and the PPB's virtual simulator [p. 54]. Notably, that simulator which is touted by the COCL has been reported as having "reliability issues" [p. 76].
It's not 100% clear whether their data are based on actual results or just a sample of what the PPB _might_ publish, but in a footnote on p. 55 the COCL says that 25 of 45 "groups" (unclear what that means) undergoing procedural justice scenarios had room for improvement. They said 33% need help on voice, 42% on neutrality, 14% on respect and 34% on trust/empathy. The majority of these scenarios were about internal procedural justice-- cop on cop-- with only one being about interacting with the community [p. 64].
To explain why it's important to build trust, it's given as an example that the community will be more understanding when officers use deadly force. That probably needs more thought given to it, especially as it's acknowledged that procedural justice can make up for bad events but not prevent bad outcomes. The accompanying slide on trust showed some Black people sitting on the hood of a police car talking to officers. It focused on how to take the blame of bad perceptions off of the police and put it onto the media and the community, which seems terribly backward [p. 65].
Not surprisingly, the officers' favorite trainings were hands on activities such as boxing-in vehicles and giving first aid, while procedural justice and mindfulness scored lower [p. 56].
One of the few changes made to the Portland Police Association collective bargaining agreement this year was to add "reasonable suspicion" drug testing to the existing provision for random testing. While the community's demand for this was to test officers after excessive and deadly force incidents, there was training given for supervisors to take control of a scene when investigating. The goal, they say, is to take care of the officers, not to "get them" [pp. 65-66]. If only community members under suspicion had the same gentle approach applied to them.
Another notable training addition is specific to Sergeants who act as incident commanders, probably both at protest actions and emergency scenes. This is key to new paragraph 192 in which the Independent Police Review is supposed to identify supervisors who encouraged/allowed/did not report on improper force at the 2020 protests. Though this training took up 3.5 hours, the COCL and DOJ pointed out there is no policy about Sergeants taking on this role [p. 67].
--Training on incident management included de-escalating with other officers [p. 67];
--Bystander training suggests it is better to intervene early, and that there is a duty to intervene if "unnecessary harm is being inflicted" [p. 72];
--One scenario of that training had an officer notice a change in another officer's demeanor, and another had a cop getting agitated with protestors [p. 72];
--The COCL is now insistent that the Bureau audit training (85), but is only asking for a plan to be made by Q3 2022 [p. 82];
--The cards instructing people of their rights to refuse searches are still not done, so the training being developed in Q3 has not started yet [p. 26] (and meanwhile, people continue to willingly give up their rights);
--and the City Attorney's office was behind on legal updates, so they delivered nine months' worth all at once [p. 74].
OVERSIGHT: Problems Persist, Leading to New Violations
A) Civilian Oversight (existing system)
There were three shootings by officers in Q2 2021-- Robert Delgado, Darren Carr and Michael Townsend. Police Review Board reports from September and February do not indicate that any of them were contemplated by the Board, meaning the investigations must have taken longer than the 180 days required by the Agreement (121). This is not to mention the case in which officers shot at David Dahlen in December 2020, which also hasn't been included in the Board reports. However, the Compliance Officer states that investigations are now all timely, finding only one case out of 19 was over time [p. 138].
Though PCW thought paragraph 123 on having a plan to fix untimely investigations was previously also out of compliance, the COCL says the Bureau has "maintained" compliance. That said, they pointed out there was one case that took a long time because it was "returned to the investigator multiple times for additional investigations," that some languished as other cases took priority, and that there was no formal discussion of how to fix these issues [p. 141].
A different paragraph (128) requiring that plans be enacted to reduce duplication of effort between the "Independent" Police Review (IPR) and the Bureau's Internal Affairs division (IA) has now been found only in partial compliance for two reasons. One is that there is no transition plan between IPR and the new oversight board inserted into the City Charter by voters in November 2020, and the other is that there is a backlog of some 45,000 documents in the Records Division. While the COCL said the IPR was not hindered by that backlog per se, there was one case where IPR "realized" they were missing a document, which PPB then provided [p. 146].
IPR is required to investigate all allegations of force unless there is "clear and convincing evidence" that no misconduct occurred (129). The COCL reports four cases that were closed, three due to lack of evidence. In the fourth, the supervisor who initially investigated reported on excessive force and an injury. IPR reviewed the case and said there was no inappropriate force. The Compliance Officer wisely says if that was the case, there should have been an "Exonerated" finding rather than a dismissal. The IPR changed the categorization from force to "control tactics" because it involved handcuffing and that the injury was pre-existing on the person's arm. The COCL asked that the case be reopened [p. 147]; PCW applauds their diligence here. However since it was just one case, the Substantial Compliance rating remains.
In several of our last analyses, Portland Copwatch raised the concern that the Citizen Review Committee sent back a case for further investigation in October 2020, but did not hear back within the required 10 days (136). This was the case in which former PPB Sergeant Liani Reyna complained about bias by higher-ranking officers investigating a complaint she filed. CRC's protocols require that after a case is returned by IPR, they need to vote on the allegation based on the available evidence. Instead, IPR returned the case in August 2021-- 10 months later-- and CRC was informed briefly at their October 2021 meeting that the case was closed. The COCL shrugs off the violation of City protocols saying they accepted IPR's position that the concerns were addressed in other, related complaints made by Reyna [p. 154]. PCW continues to be concerned that rules are sometimes treated as suggestions.
Finally on the topic of IPR, the COCL once again assessed their getting information out to complainants (paragraphs 138, 139 and 140) is substantial [p. 157], but didn't interview any complainants about their experiences. Considering how the Compliance Officer constantly asks the Bureau to conduct follow up surveys with people who had police contact, this seems hypocritical.
B) Police Review Board
Another new paragraph was found out of policy because the Police Review Board has not been processing cases properly (131). The Compliance Officer phrases this as their "operation is inconsistent with the requirements" [p. 149]. The Board, made up of three or four Bureau members, an IPR staff person, and one or two civilians, is not making "unbiased" recommendations. The COCL observed confusion about the constitutional standard for use of Force, inconsistently defining what is "active aggression," and Board members offering mitigating reasons the officers' force should not be found out of policy, rather than applying the policy and mitigating the discipline [p. 150]. They also talked about being concerned that officers would lose their assignments (presumably, in the Training Division or the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team) if they were found out of policy for use of force. The COCL expresses how inappropriate it is to decide whether a violation occurred using that issue as a factor [pp. 23 and 150].
To get back in compliance, the PRB has to engage in better training and avoid using an officer's assignment to exonerate their behavior [also p. 150].
MENTAL HEALTH / CRISIS INTERVENTION : Committee Urged to Review Shootings; Response Team Looking Good
No parts of the sections on mental health response and crisis intervention were found out of compliance. Some of the most important developments are around the Behavioral Health Unit Advisory Committee (BHUAC), as noted above, and data relating to the new Portland Street Response Team (PSR). One other significant piece of information: the COCL reports that the Bureau is still reluctant to lock their weapons up when entering mental health facilities (89) [p. 89].
With regard to the BHUAC, Portland Copwatch has for years urged that two things happen: One, that they open their meetings to the public, the other, that they use their position as identified mental health specialists reviewing police policies to talk about deadly force incidents. The first was partially taken care of when BHUAC began holding public community forums in 2021, though these are not meetings at which policies are debated or recommendations voted upon. At the October 27 public forum, PCW again raised the issue about reviewing deadly force incidents. Several Committee members stated they did not think these cases were in their purview, as the COCL notes in their report [p. 101] and their technical assistance document dated December 10 (Appendix C) [p. 207]. At the meeting, DOJ lawyer Jared Hager explained that paragraph 95 clearly asks the Committee to look at ways to improve police contacts with people with mental illness. By the end of the meeting the BHUAC said they would begin reviewing such cases.
However, the Report shows that there are ongoing discussions about what this review would look like. The COCL echoes the DOJ, saying that paragraph 95 is clear in its instructions [p. 207]. The Committee's charge is to advise how to deescalate the potential for violence [p. 205]. The COCL brings up a point made by PCW at the forum-- that the Police Review Board looks at deadly force cases for certain aspects (policy, training, equipment, operations) but that is not a substitute for the expertise the BHUAC can bring [p. 208]. We welcome the DOJ and COCL's long awaited attention to this matter, but are discouraged that these reviews could have been going on since 2014 had PCW been able to attend meetings of the BHUAC. Moreover, the oversight entities both found BHUAC to be in full compliance with the Agreement despite its members never having discussed deadly force incidents.
The COCL goes so far as to say it is good that the Committee receives updates on positive interactions between the BHU and the community, but they should also look at negative outcomes whether or not policies were violated [p. 208]. Also as noted above, the COCL suggests that failing to do so could put paragraph 95 out of compliance [p. 209].
--BHUAC is supposed to review training for the Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team (ECIT). The Bureau was asked to give a powerpoint presentation on that training but they refused [p. 206].
--The concerns BHUAC did bring up were not tracked by the Bureau [p. 101].
--Six BHUAC members missed four or more meetings [p. 99].
b) Portland Street Response
With regard to PSR, the best news, if we're reading the Report properly, is that in the Fire Bureau/mental health specialist teams responding to 383 calls, there were no arrests made [p. 92]. Unfortunately, as the COCL notes, the Police Association contract is limiting what kinds of calls PSR can attend. The teams are currently excluded from going indoors, responding to suicidal calls, approaching people in traffic or if there is a weapon present [p. 93]. There's no clear report on whether the 16 person commission which includes four members of the Police Association is making progress in loosening these restrictions, despite other comments from the COCL about issues that took place after the end of Q4.
Also, Portland State University's positive review of PSR apparently only included responses from eight police officers, some of whom said there is confusion in the ranks about who should be responding to which calls [p. 94].
c) Other Mental Health related issues
--The COCL continues to say they can't review when ECIT uses force against people in mental health crisis because the sample size is too low, yet over the course of three years there are 242 incidents [p. 107]. We urge COCL to review the long-term implications of the force used by these specially trained de-escalation officers.
--The first new ECIT officer training and recruitment in two years took place (existing officers volunteer for the team-- paragraph 99). There were 38 applicants [p. 110] but even though they all allegedly passed the review of their misconduct history, there are only 28 (or 29) new members [pp. 106 and 108].
--There had been a convergence of how often ECIT and non-ECIT officers sent people in crisis to the hospital or to jail, but now ECIT cops are 1.4 times more likely to send people to the hospital and 1.5 times more likely to send them to jail [p. 106].
--The PPB interactions with people in crisis led to 400 reports, which showed force used in 20 cases and people arrested at about the same rate (105) [p. 115].
--Portland Copwatch has criticized the Service Coordination Team (SCT), which helps get people into treatment and housing, for narrowly offering this important assistance to people who are frequently arrested rather than to those asking for help. The Report says people were turned away from the SCT program because they had not committed crimes recently (112) [p. 124].
--Although the COCL has consistently praised the SCT program for its success, the Report says that only one of seven people completed the program to get into housing [p. 125].
--The Report's format includes space for the COCL to explain how they rated each section; paragraphs 103 (about ECIT officers remaining on regular duty until called) and 108 (about criteria for people on the Behavioral Health Response Team) both say the assessment was done by looking at Bureau policy [pp. 113 and 118]. Perhaps the COCL left off review of data and documents.
In this section, the paragraphs describing thresholds for entering officers into the Employee Information System (118 & 119) were put back into Substantial Compliance by the COCL, though it is not clear why. The other paragraphs (116 and 117) are still not in compliance in part because of failure to enter data from the 2020 protests. PCW still wonders whether doing so would prompt review of officers since the thresholds are based on periods of time from 30 days to six months (Directive 345.00) and 2020 is now two years in the rear view mirror.
Part of paragraphs 116 and 117 is the requirement for supervisors to enter certain data into the EIS. The COCL remarks that compliance by Supervisors is up by 6% despite staffing shortages [p. 131]; however, doesn't it also figure that there are fewer officers generating data?
Perhaps most troubling is that paragraph 120 requires a second person to manage the EIS. Rather than bring in an extra non-sworn employee, they have assigned the Force Inspector to take on this task on top of the other work they are supposed to be doing. While the COCL allows that this is a reasonable temporary solution [p. 137], there is no consideration about whether the Inspector's failures (see Force section) might be due to their trying to do two jobs at once. Not to mention, the PPB has now had five different Force Inspectors over the course of two years.*-7
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: City's Lack of Staff Support Continues Compliance Failure
A) Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing
Because this report is focused on Q4 2021, the COCL avoids going too far into the resignation of two of the three staff people for the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP) in early 2022. However, they note that the City took no action to fix the issues they raised throughout 2021 about the staff not being large enough to do things like post the group's minutes online in a timely manner [p. 25]. More specifically, some of the videos of their meeting were posted on a YouTube channel that is not the PCCEP's or linked to their site, and some of the minutes of their meetings are just full transcripts [p. 163]. To be fair, the Training Advisory Council's "minutes" are nothing but transcripts either. In any case, paragraph 144 about adequately staffing PCCEP is still out of compliance.
It's not clear, then, why paragraph 143 about the PCCEP's membership is still considered in Substantial Compliance. By the end of Q4, they were down to just seven of their 13 members, meaning all seated members must show up for them to hold a meeting.*-8 The COCL does note that the City has not been timely in filling seats-- no new members have been named since August 2021 [p. 24]. They go on to say that the lack of urgency to replace members was a major factor in the demise of PCCEP's predecessor group, the Community Oversight Advisory Board [p. 161].
PCCEP did not make any recommendations in Q4. The COCL calls out the City, though, for not replying within 60 days as required to recommendations they made in Q3 about data transparency, codifying the PCCEP and supporting CRC's recommendations on crowd control [pp. 160-161]. It's not clear that there are any consequences for the City's inaction.
PCW would also argue that Paragraph 152, requiring the City to train PCCEP members, is also out of compliance, as the COCL reports their only training is in the basics of boards and commissions [p. 178]. They also need specific training on the DOJ Settlement Agreement, whose implementation they are required to track, as well as their own history and the history of police issues in Portland.
B) Stop Data
Paragraph 148 requires the PPB to continue tracking traffic and pedestrian stop data, including race and gender demographics and whether mental health issues are involved. As has been going on for quite some time now, the COCL only focuses on traffic stops, ignoring PCW's repeated concern that the PPB is under-reporting pedestrian stops at about 12 people every three months.*-9
The Report says the PPB is just now trying to understand why there is so much racial disparity in traffic stops and searches [p. 170], even though they've had those data for most of the last 20 years. The COCL once again notes that 16.3% of stops are of Black drivers even though Portland's population is only 5.8% Black [p. 170].*-10 They note that the numbers in North Precinct are twice as high as census data, in East Precinct they're three times as high, and in Central they are four times as high. Rather than push the PPB to make changes, the COCL once again calls on the community to monitor the stops.
The COCL also says that the total number of traffic stops are down, while their own numbers show those stop going from 2285 in Q3 to 3301 in Q4 [p. 169]-- a 44% increase.
Related to the stops, it's now been well over a year since the PPB promised to put out cards in various languages and train officers on advising people of their right to refuse a search. Perhaps because the Oregon legislature is working on a bill about consent searches [p. 26], or perhaps because the PPB just can't seem to get the cards, training or accompanying policy ready [p. 170], this important new concept has still not been implemented.
C) PPB Annual Report
PCW disagreed with the COCL last time whether the City came into compliance on Paragraph 150 about the presentation of the Bureau's Annual Report. They continue to say the three Precinct presentations and City Council hearing met the Agreement's standards, even though community members reported barely knowing about the former and not being allowed to testify at the latter. The COCL repeats their recommendation from the last Report that the Bureau should hold the Precinct meetings prior to the City Council hearing. Unfortunately, they put this as an either/or to allowing public testimony at the Council presentation [pp. 26 & 176]. The point is, the Bureau should be listening to the community and reporting what they hear back to Council. Additional public testimony should then be taken. As noted in our last analysis, based on public input from PCW and ally organizations, Council changed its policies in November (Q4) to allow public testimony on Reports. (No thanks to the DOJ or the COCL, in other words.)
D) Other Community Engagement Info
--In Q3, the COCL asked the Bureau to provide data on how many times they used language translation services and for which languages. The PPB did so, saying they made 938 calls: 69% were for Spanish, 7% for Vietnamese, 4% for Russian and Somali, 3% for Cantonese and Mandarin, 2% for Arabic, and the others are all less than 2% [p. 167].
--The COCL continues to push the Bureau to do more to promote and report on meetings of its advisory bodies (Latino, African American, etc.) but praised them for putting out a monthly list of events officers attend. A footnote on page 166 says there were 20 outreach events with 733 people at them, in November it was 19 events and 633 people, and in December it was seven events with 172 people.
--According to the Report, the Bureau's Community police academy reopened in Q4, working to do more than just expose people to police training by making a more educational experience [p. 167]. PCW still says until police are required to do houseless immersions to know what it's like to live on the street, it's a one-sided relationship for officers to insist that community members walk in their shoes.
NEW REMEDIES: COCL Gets a Head Start
The eight new paragraphs to the Agreement (188-195) were agreed upon in December, voted on by Council in February, and approved by Judge Simon in April, However, the COCL got a jump start on reviewing three of them in this Report.
--A civilian is to be hired to oversee the educational aspects of training (191). Formally called the "police education director," the colloquial term is "training dean." The COCL says the City reached out to Baltimore and Los Angeles to see how such civilian positions are working there, and that the Training Advisory Council was involved in the selection team for the new position [pp. 180-181].
--The COCL says the main purposes of body worn cameras being required (194) are "transparency and evidence collection" [p. 181], even though they're being sold as a remedy to the PPB's over-use of force and thus as an accountability tool. The Report claims that studies show body cams reduce complaints and use of force, though there are as many studies saying they make no difference. Regardless, the COCL points to the DOJ's proposed policy for body cams, which was published on November 15, and emphasizes the importance of community input when setting the final policy.
--Noting here that PCW member Dan Handelman is a member of the Police Accountability Commission (PAC), which is designing the new oversight board and the subject of paragraph 195, PCW is being careful about analysis or commentary. That said, the main takeaway from the COCL report is that the PAC held its first two meetings in Q4 on December 9 and 18 [p. 182].
While less prominent than in some previous reports, the COCL continues to push the PPB to hire more employees, albeit mostly what would likely be civilian analyst positions. They bring this up in the context of quarterly Force reports (76) [p. 42], training data (80) [p. 57], and training audits (85) [p. 82]. The City has been clear that the Public Safety Division headed by Mike Myers is trying to consolidate all public safety offices (Police, Fire, Emergency Management and the 911 system) and give them a pool of analysts to work with. Perhaps the COCL isn't being included in those discussions.
PCW also sent some clarifying questions and pointed out typos to the COCL in an email sent on May 9. We did not hear back prior to publishing this analysis.
PCW appreciates that the Compliance Officer has returned to being more clear about the contents of each paragraph and what the ratings are. Perhaps there is some happy middle ground that doesn't create such giant Reports where pulling out significant changes from previous assessments takes so much work. As always, the window into behind-the-scenes information and the occasional strongly worded critique are welcome, even if overall there are many areas that Copwatch would like to see scrutinized more thoroughly. The data reporting on outcomes has also been inconsistent. And in some cases, the most interesting material is included in footnotes.
The sad truth is that the PPB has had almost ten years to comply with the terms of an Agreement they helped write-- remember that this is not a Consent Decree as has been imposed on other cities. And now there are at least eight new areas to work on, and the possibility that one advisory committee's obstinance could find the City further out of compliance. It's almost as if there are institutions involved that are resistant to change.
*1- Find the Report at https://tinyurl.com/COCLdraftQ4
*2- Q3 2019 was the last quarter to include a report card; at this point the COCL believed the City was in full compliance with the Agreement.
*3- link to Use of Force data;: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/64544
*4- Portland Copwatch's analyses of the PRB Reports--
*5- in our Q3 analysis we wondered why the US Department of Homeland Security was listed as part of the training remedies proposed by the Bureau; it's not clear if the FEMA training is what that was referring to. Incidentally, the FEMA training is 48.5 hours long [p. 51].
*6- while the COCL's draft has been out for review, four members of the FIT shot and seriously wounded a community member; we wonder whether the Q2 2022 Report will address this in any way.
*7- Lt. Jeff Niiya, Lt. Robert Simon, Lt. John Sapper, Lt. Chris Lindsey and Lt. Peter Helzer.
*8- But as Portland Copwatch has said repeatedly, if the City set the quorum for a majority of active members rather than a majority of 13, they could continue meeting.
*9- In their response to our comments from Q3, the COCL wrote "Here COCL was examining racial disparities in police-public contacts and 99% of the existing data comes from traffic stops. If PCW is concerned about pedestrian stop data, we encourage them to provide..." And that is where the excel spreadsheet printout cuts off.
*10-Technically the COCL said that 5.8% of _drivers_ are Black, but PPB crash data indicate that about 11 percent of people involved in traffic accidents are Black. Portland Copwatch is willing to concede to this being a slightly more accurate benchmark-- but it still doesn't explain why so many more Black people are stopped (16-24%).
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Posted May 15, 2022