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PIIAC Discovers One of Its Main Weak Spots

At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, July 16, several City Commissioners were surprised to hear that Police Chief Charles Moose controverted a decision they had made. What makes Moose's opposition to Council more shocking is that their decision was to sustain a complaint of misuse of force against a Portland Police Officer.

The case, PIIAC appeal #96-22, involved a police officer dragging a heavy-set woman across an asphalt driveway when she was unable to stand after having been handcuffed. Police claim that no specific general order requires them to pick a person up, and that training was inadequate for dealing with heavier persons. Photographs of the injuries and the victim's account helped persuade the majority of Citizen Advisors on the Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee (PIIAC) that this was a misuse of police power. A majority of City Council voted to accept the Advisors' view.

Willamette Week
WW Scoreboard


2. Police watchdogs had their chain yanked last week when Chief Charles Moose exonerated officers accused of wrongdoing, going against the recommendations of the City Council and PIIAC's citizen advisors. Moose said the officers followed proper procedures when they dragged a handcuffed woman across the pavement before taking her to jail.

Pick your losers: (a) Chief Moose (b) City Council (c) PIIAC Citizen Advisors (d) Copwatch (e) the woman who was permanently scarred by this incident, (f) the people of Portland (g) Justice or (h) all of the above (WW 7/23/97)

To understand how the Chief was able to make the final decision, it may help to look at the police review process:

The victim filed a complaint with Internal Affairs (IAD). They investigated the matter and found no misconduct. On appeal to PIIAC, the case was sent back for further investigation. When the police returned again with a finding of "Exonerated," the Citizen Advisors brought the case to City Council asking the finding be changed to "Sustained" for excessive force. On April 23, Commissioners Sten, Hales and Kafoury voted in favor of changing the finding. Chief Moose, under City Code, had 60 days to respond. On day 61, he issued a finding of Exonerated.

City Commissioners seemed surprised to learn that their April vote was non-binding and that an appointed official could, through administrative action, overrule a vote by elected representatives. Even Commissioner Francesconi and Mayor Katz, who did not vote to change the original finding, were disturbed by the process. Commissioners indicated that they would speak with the Chief, the Police Association and the City Attorney about changing City Code to make the Council's decisions final.

Since that time, Copwatch has issued a request for City Council to conduct a full audit of PIIAC's effectiveness since 1994, when the "Mayor's Initiative" brought many changes to the police review process. [see PPR #11 for other info on the idea of an audit] Copwatch circulated a proposal prior to the 1994 changes, requesting important other modifications including that the police review board have the final say in cases brought before them. It is too bad City Council had to have a case turned back on them to realize the weakness of this system.

Moose's Second Chance?

PIIAC advisors brought another case before City Council on July 16th, recommending a finding of Sustained where the bureau had not. In this case (#96-18), off­duty officer Donald Speranza wrote a police report about his teenage neighbors making noise late at night, writing on the report a suggestion that Child Services Division get involved. Most Council members expressed outrage that the officer overstepped his bounds by writing a police report in a personal matter (General Order 313.30-- Misuse of Position).

Speranza's Captain, Detectives supervisor Greg Clark, argued that there is such pressure for police to document everything these days that the officer would have been criticized for not writing anything down. However, as PIIAC Advisors pointed out, Officer Speranza could have written notes and stuck them in his pocket. Council members asked why Speranza didn't ask an officer he called to the scene ("Officer B") to help write the police report. Commissioner Francesconi rightfully asked whether any ordinary civilian-- including the Commissioners--could have written such a police report. After sputtering out a few remarks about how all police reports are ultimately generated by civilians, Capt. Clark admitted that only a police officer could write a police report.

The vote was 4-1 to recommend a Sustained finding. Chief Moose now has 60 days to reply to City Council.

The Commissioners, PIIAC, Portland Copwatch, and the people of Portland anxiously await his response.

If you have concerns about issues raised in this article, you may want to call PIIAC at 823-4126, Internal Affairs at 823-0236,, Chief Moose at 823-0010, or contact City Council.
  [People's Police Report]

August, 1997
Also in PPR #12

Chief Undoes Council Misconduct Vote
Police Shootings, Shootings of Police
 • 18 Years: One Dead Cop, 100s of Dead Workers
 • What is a Hero?

Drug-Free Zones Modified
Day Laborers Resist Immigration Raids
Sheriff Wants Double-Bunking in Jail
Eugene Cops Attack Peaceful Tree-Sit
Updates PPR #12:
 • Beanbag Bullets Now on the Beat
 • Special Duty
 • Pepper Spray to be Banned in Berkeley?
 • Cop-Friendly Capitalism
 • Police Spying Update (again!)
 • Hawthorne Copwatching Update
 • Grant to Copwatch: Update

Report: National Conference in Phillie
Quick Flashes PPR #12:
 • Slap on the Wrist for Rapist Cop
 • Sacramento Cops Target Zapatista Supporters
 • ACLU Updates Police Abuse Manual
 • Portland Copwatch in Media, at Conference

Reviews of 'Zines
Rapping Back #12

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #12 Table of Contents
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