People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
"Secret List" Money Paid Retroactively by Sneaky City Council
In mid-May, Portland City Council attempted to quietly approve a payment of nearly half a million dollars for their "Secret List" program, also known as Project 57 or the Service Coordination Team (SCT)/ Neighborhood Livability Crime Enforcement Program. Portland Copwatch (PCW) pulled the item off the "consent agenda," forcing Council publicly to explain why the money would be used for a program which is being challenged by Elden Rosenthal, one of Oregon's top civil rights attorneys (PPR #47). The Council said that the $456,250 they approved was to pay their bill to Multnomah County for the jail bed space used in the program from July 2008-June 2009. The program bumps people with repeat arrest records up to felony charges for certain crimes in order to force them into a "jail or treatment" choice. PCW supports treatment money, but thinks it should be available to all who want it, regardless of whether they have been arrested. A few weeks later, Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman scheduled another $124,764 for another program related to the SCT on the consent agenda even though he apologized for that mistake the first time. PCW pulled it off the agenda again. Council passed both measures unanimously.
In April, a judge told the City they can't use the list to enhance a person's sentence if it is based on arrests, not convictions (also PPR #47). This point was not lost on Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who expressed concerns about that issue at the hearing.
The police could easily be arresting people repeatedly without probable cause to put them on the list for arbitrary reasons, such as not liking how they look. Those arrested can't know whether they are on the list. When last discussed, the list had over 400 names on it.
During the second hearing, Commissioner Randy Leonard stated that he had told the police to just publish the list so that the community and the press would stop criticizing its secret nature. Interestingly, Leonard previously denied having any knowledge of the list, despite his undying support of the program (PPR #46). Leonard told the Portland Mercury 's Matt Davis on May 20 that one reason the list has not been published was that the City Attorney's office was advising caution. Perhaps they fear being sued?
What's more, it does not look as if social service agents or mental health professionals are involved in overseeing and running the program. And, like other police projects, the "Secret List" contains a disproportionate number of African American names--over 50% in a city that is 6% black.
The Council never answered PCW's questions about whether the Project 57 program was budgeted for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.