[CRC logo]

Police Review Board Member Resigns
  as Threat Case Rejected Again
Mediation Report, Outreach Program
Reveal Continuing Influence of City & Staff

The case of the officer who threatened to kill a man has had rippling effects. One member of the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) resigned in its wake, and it looks as if City Council may finally get around to holding a public hearing about the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR). The IPR is the nine-person office which handles the City's misconduct complaints and supports the nine-member volunteer CRC. Meanwhile, the board continues to lack independence as evidenced by staff-influenced decision-making and city-oriented guest speakers.

[Gwenn Baldwin picture]

Resignation Resonates

At the end of the Committee's March 21 meeting, CRC member Gwenn Baldwin, originally nominated by Mayor Katz and renewed on a recommendation from Erik Sten, resigned. She did not explain her specific reasons for resigning, but cautioned the other members to focus more on appeals hearings in the future. She also encouraged them to bring appeals as far as possible, an apparent reference to the case of Marsha Anderson (#2005-x-0003, see PPR #37). The CRC voted twice not to bring Anderson's complaint about an officer threatening to kill her ex-boyfriend to City Council.

When Anderson's case came to the CRC back in December, Chief Foxworth had "Sustained" the wrong allegation, focusing on the profanity in Detective Mike Malanaphy's admitted statement ("next time I see your ex-boyfriend, I'm just going to shoot the motherfucker") instead of the threat itself. Rather than calling the Chief's attention to this error, IPR Director Leslie Stevens presented the case to the CRC as though the Bureau had agreed with them "for a different reason."

Director Stevens told the Committee she would support their decision if they sent the case to Council, but would provide her dissenting opinion if asked. The process of bringing an appeal to City Council should be a CRC function, and the IPR Director should not be involved, nor should the Council seek or receive the Director's opinion. By ordinance, the Director handles the case prior to the appeal, the CRC handles the appeal.

[Marcella Red Thunder and Marsha Anderson] At the February meeting, CRC members Marcella Red Thunder and Baldwin, responding to public comment by Ms. Anderson, proposed that the case be re-opened. The discussion by the CRC did not focus on the possibility that Foxworth was either confused (perhaps due to poor communication from the IPR office) or deliberately avoiding the CRC's concerns. Instead, much of the conversation raised the question of whether Foxworth's possible confusion was "new and compelling information" as required by the protocols.

Ms. Anderson did not have access to the letters between the IPR and the Chief at December's "conference hearing," and was unable to argue her case at that meeting.

But in February, Anderson did have the letters and brought them to the meeting. Deputy City Attorney Linly Rees and Director Leslie Stevens discouraged raising this case again for a revote. Their behavior is further evidence of the conflict of interest the IPR has in being charged both with defending the City from legal challenges and seeking to hold police accountable. As a result of Rees and Stevens' influence, the Committee voted against the motion to re-open the case 3-4. Baldwin resigned the next month.

Coincidentally, the day following Baldwin's resignation, Anderson, Alejandro Queral of the NW Constitutional Rights Center, and Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch had signed up on the City Council "communications" agenda to discuss the case and its implications for the IPR. Anderson said the IPR does not follow its own protocols--the CRC should have sent the case to City Council once the Police Bureau refused to sustain the finding about the threat. Queral outlined ways in which the IPR could become more independent, focusing on civilian investigators with the power to compel officer testimony. Handelman tied the history of the IPR/CRC-- including their refusal to hear the beating case of José Méjia in 2003, which led to the resignation of 5 members (PPR #30)--to this case and mentioned Baldwin's resignation.

Commissioner Leonard seemed genuinely shocked to hear this news. Commissioner Sten stated that Ms. Baldwin had informed him she was intending to resign. He told the Portland Mercury, "Someone of her caliber stepping down makes it crystal clear we've got to go in and look at this thing... I think we need to have a real public look at what's working and not working" (March 30).

When the IPR was adopted in 2001, Council promised the community a public review of the system "in one year." Now, five years later, Commissioner Adams' office has been sitting on $60,000 to conduct a professional review since June, 2005. Portland Copwatch has urged the Council to hold a public hearing for community input on the IPR--which would cost nothing.

Evidence Surfaces: IPR Deliberately Withheld Case from the CRC

At the March CRC meeting, three members presented a report about the IPR's mediation program. In an oral update to their written report, the CRC revealed that the one case in which a complainant filed an appeal but was sent to mediation was re-routed under pressure from then-IPR Director Richard Rosenthal. Apparently, Rosenthal noted that one reason it was preferable to send the case to mediation was to keep it from being heard by the CRC and thus avoid the potential for the CRC to change the findings.

The fact that this happened, and was documented, supports the concerns that Portland Copwatch expressed at the time the case was taken behind closed doors: (1) appeals should all be immediately scheduled before the CRC, (2) currently, appeals can only happen on cases which have been investigated, and investigations, we are told, take up a lot of scarce City resources; (3) the idea of holding a mediation after such an investigation seems contrary to the purpose of the IPR, which is to have an open, transparent, and user-friendly system for resolving cases of possible police misconduct; (4) by offering mediation at this stage, the IPR allows the officer to avoid disciplinary tools and have the case all but erased from his or her record; and (5) the IPR Director scheduled a mediation in lieu of appeal before the process had been described in any protocol or the ordinance, and before the CRC had a chance to discuss the idea.

We'd really like to learn the allegations by the complainant in this particular case that led Director Rosenthal to fear it being heard publicly.

[Officers Zajac and Christensen]

Guest Speakers Ignoring Review Board's Mission;
"Community Advisory Council" to Meet

As with the first "outreach meeting" guest speaker, Roy Jay (PPR #37), the speakers at the January and March CRC meetings spoke about community issues but were not there to address the IPR's mission of police accountability.

In January, the guests at the North Portland Community center were Officers Jason Christensen and Eric Zajac, who gave presentations about how they work with citizens on crime issues. In 2004, Officer Zajac Tasered 71-year-old Eunice Crowder in the incident during which her glass eye popped out (PPR #33), though this was never mentioned at the meeting.

Their Lieutenant, Phil Barker (previously a Sergeant at the Internal Affairs Division [IAD]) related a few stories about North Precinct cases that had been reviewed by the IPR. Interestingly, his stories were about a noise issue handled by a supervisor talking to an officer; a presumably successful mediation; and a mediation in which the complainant didn't show up so the officer was given a commendation by the IPR.

[Samantha Kennedy and Officer Myers] The March guest at the Port of Portland Building in NW Portland was Samantha Kennedy of the ACCESS Street Intervention Program, an outreach program for homeless people funded in part by the City and in part by the Police Bureau . Kennedy talked about hooking up people with housing and helping them deal with chronic arrest records, but not about police misconduct. In fact, when asked, she stated that none of the people she works with has ever complained about being mistreated. In general, she had nothing but praise for officers, singling out the well-meaning-but-bad-for-poor-people Officer Jeff Myers (PPR #s 31 & 37): "We collaborate every day." Myers has taken actions such as shutting down parks, fencing off potential camping areas and keeping secret lists of repeat offenders. The disconnect between programs the City thinks will make things better and what people really need is disturbing. Having it reinforced without any grassroots perspective to balance the presentation shows that the IPR has a long way to go to be in touch with the communities it serves.

Rather than continuing to bring in what the IPR thinks are examples of community policing, the CRC should be inviting groups such as the ACLU, JOIN, the National Lawyers Guild, the public defenders' offices and others who deal with misconduct and civil rights/civil liberties issues on a daily basis.

On that note, the CRC's "Community Advisory Council," which in theory is made up of community organizational representa-tives who will act as a conduit to and from the IPR with information, is set to have its first meeting on April 25, as the PPR is going to press. Look for a report in our next issue or via email.

Not getting our emails? Send a request to copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org.

Only One New Case Heard; Second Heard Informally

The CRC has only heard one new appeal since December, and one other which was not brought to them as a formal appeal.

The formal case, heard as a pre-hearing at the April meeting, involved a man who says he was slammed against a fence and down on the sidewalk, cracking his head open. The police officers claim they "fell" or "leaned" against the fence and that the injuries were not serious. In a unanimous vote, the CRC sent the case back to Internal Affairs for further investigation, since one witness had not been interviewed and the man's medical information had not been available.

At the January public outreach meeting, Mr. George Sullivan told the CRC that he had been brought into Detox when he was not drunk. The IPR had dismissed the case based on a police report and Detox information that Sullivan had not seen. Because it is a financial hardship for civilians to read their own police reports (they currently cost $10 plus), and most people do not know how to access such reports, they should be made available in the IPR office for reading.

Part of Sullivan's complaint was being subjected to detention by police for "flunking the attitude test," an allegation which the IPR and CRC dismissed as never happening in a 2003 report on the subject of Detox (PPR #30). Unfortunately, rather than vote to suspend the rules in order to consider a case that had been dismissed (as was allowed when the CRC was first created), the committee advised Sullivan to address his complaint to the County and to Detox.

Other IPR/CRC News:

--Leading Questions Resurface

In a discussion about Internal Affairs, CRC member Red Thunder revealed that there seems to be a recurrence of leading questions by IAD investigators, that is, yes/no questions and not open ended ones. This problem was identified way back in a 1993 audit of IAD (then called IID).

--New PARC Report

The Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) is scheduled to be in Portland at the end of April to begin its next report, which will cover police shootings and deaths in custody between January 2002 and October 2003. It's unclear why the report stops before the December, 2003 shooting death of Shane Clements (PPR #32).

For a list of other incidents, see www.portlandcopwatch.org/listofshootings.html.

[Remi Ogouma and Theresa Keeney] --New CRC Members In, New Vice Chair Elected

In February, without any public announcement (or even word to current CRC members!) the Auditor presented to City Council nominees for two open seats and three returning members. Filling the new seats are Theresa Keeney, a Native American woman taking criminal justice classes at PSU, and Irene "Remi" Ogouma, originally from Benin with a background as a management consultant with the United Nations.

At the March CRC meeting, Chair Hank Miggins was reelected (unopposed) and member Mike Bigham became Vice Chair.


--New Intake Staffer Previously Lost Column in Police "Union" Paper for Religious Views

Retired IAD Sgt. Steve Morrow is now the third intake investigator at IPR. Morrow was at the scene of the Stephen Dons incident, in which a botched drug raid led to Dons' paralyzation, the death of one officer and the wounding of another. More infamously, Morrow wrote a column in the Portland Police Association's newsletter (the Rap Sheet) called "Eternal Affairs" (see PPRs #24, 25 & 29). The column generated complaints for its overt religious content; the Rap Sheet pulled his column the last two months before Morrow retired in March, 2003.

--Community Members Recommend Charter Change to Make Review Board Independent

In February, Portland Copwatch visited the Charter Review Commission along with members of the League of Women Voters, the NW Constitutional Rights Center, and the Albina Ministerial Alliance to ask them to look at a charter change to make the IPR more independent. Such a change should look at the conflict of interest the City Attorney has advising the review board on the one hand and defending the City against lawsuits on the other. The Commission was appointed by Mayor Potter in November to look at proposing changes to the City Charter on the November, 2006 ballot.

--IPR Releases Second Quarterly "Report"

The IPR's second "Quarterly Report," aka newsletter, came out in March. There is quite a bit of space taken up announcing police and other unrelated activities, although it does show statistics from the IPR in July-Sept 2005. As with the fall Quarterly Report, examples of complaints do not include information on the outcome of the investigations.

Check for the newsletter at www.portlandonline.com/audit or/index.cfm?c=27068.


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