People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Post Policies for Public Pushback Force, Homeless Camps and Oversight General Orders Under Review
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Agreement with the City requires the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to review its general orders ("Directives") relating to Use of Force, interacting with people in mental health crisis, and accountability. The Agreement also says policies must be posted for public review. Though the Agreement wasn't formalized until late August (article here), the Bureau began posting Directives in April, including those guiding custody of juveniles (see article). However, they were not communicative about soliciting input, and it wasn't until July they set up a means to alert the community which Directives were up for review. Important policies around mental health and racial profiling were considered before the public could weigh in (but are back for review in January). Since July, Portland Copwatch and a few others have reviewed policies, including those on Use of Force, homeless camp sweeps, and Internal Affairs (IA) investigations. Most disturbing: despite a settlement with the Oregon Law Center over the draconian anti-camping ordinance (PPR #57), the Bureau did not incorporate agreed-upon language in the camp sweeps Directive.
The Use of Force Directives posted in July included only minor tweaks to 2012 and 2013 revisions. The proposed "Satisfactory Performance" Directive (315.30) still contained paragraphs about analyzing force confron-tations that once were in the Force Directive (1010.00). A new Post- Deadly Force Duty Directive wisely contains requirements for involved officers to consult psychologists before and after returning to duty, as well as potentially not putting an officer back on the streets due to "community concerns."
Accountability Directives posted in August included one about "After Action Reports" (940.00)-- summaries for high-profile incidents. The Bureau now requires the Professional Standards Division (PSD) to show up on the scene of serious use of force incidents, partially addressing our concern that supervisors tend to go easy on their subordinates. (However, it does not satisfy the problem of police investigating other police.) We hope the PPB noted our concern that they included use of a choke hold as one reason to write After Action Reports-- since that maneuver was banned in Portland in the '80s (and recently killed Eric Garner in New York).
In September, the Bureau bundled proposed revisions to the Crowd Control Directive (635.10) with unrelated policies-- perhaps to undermine the then-unwritten Citizen Review Committee (CRC) report on this topic (p. 4). Our comments focused on prohibitions against spying; inclusion of the Mounted Patrol and various weapons; lack of guidance for use of bicycles (often used to injure protestors); differentiations between planned/permitted and unplanned/unpermitted events; and use of the word "threat" in describing assessments of a crowd. We praised the Bureau for noting some spontaneous events can be "facilitated with minimal, or no, police assistance."
Other Directives included news that the Bureau will re-establish, for the first time since 2007 (PPR #42), the finding of "Unfounded" for allegations of misconduct that are not supported by the evidence (335.00--Discipline Process). However, they did not change the term "Service Improvement Opportunities" (331.00) to "Non-Disciplinary Complaints" as many people have requested. Changes to the Police Review Board Directive (336.00) empower that body to order more investigation without clarifying the ambiguity that the investigation could end if it's not completed in 10 days. The policy on Internal Affairs (330.00) left out DOJ's requirement that all Use of Force complaints be investigated. One other concern: Directive 337.00 on selection of Police Review Board members allows the Chief to comment on the Auditor's proposed slate of nominees.
In October, we brought attention to missing parts of the "Posting/Cleanup of Established Campsites" policy (835.20), including provisions to take pictures of all property when an arrest is made. While decrying the anti-camping ordinance, PCW cautioned the Bureau about provisions allowing them to destroy personal property, using terms like "illegal campers," and allowing immediate arrests despite a 24-hour requirement to post upcoming "clean-ups."
Similarly, language formerly in the Tow policy (630.60), based on recommendations by the CRC (PPR #43), has been eliminated, while one recommendation-- special considera-tion for a person living in a vehicle-- was never included.
We also sent comments on Directive 650.00 on Searches, which casually introduces the idea of a "stop and frisk." In discussing the gender of officers conducting searches, the rules don't take into consideration transgender persons.
The policies posted prior to July included 820.50--Mental Health Crisis Response,"finalized" with a sentence blaming police violence against people with mental illness on lack of funding for health care. De-escalation, recognizing behaviors and avoiding excessive force should be mandatory regardless of other agencies' funding.
We also repeatedly asked the Bureau to provide "red-line" versions of the Directives so we would not have to plow through multiple pages and multiple iterations of the policies to see what has changed. At the October CRC meeting, PSD Captain Dave Famous said that there would not be any red-line versions. At minimum, the Bureau should explain what changes were made and why.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.