Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


New Policy Would Have Prohibited Handcuffing of Nine Year Old

In issue 63 of the People's Police Report, we covered the unsettling story of the Portland Police handcuffing and arresting a nine year old girl, taking her to the police station where she was fingerprinted and photographed. Initially the Independent Police Review Division (IPR) said nothing could be done because the officers had not violated any PPB policy. After media coverage and public outrage, the PPB admitted that there was a "gap in policy."

PPB convened a work group and on October 22, 17 months after the arrest, the Bureau issued a directive covering the temporary detention and custody of juveniles. It says that children under 12 can only be temporarily held if they present a "substantial threat to safety," and can only be handcuffed if they are "combative or threatening." They can't be transported to Juvenile Detention except for "serious, violent crimes." Officers must confer with their supervisor before taking a child into custody. The new regulations require documentation of detention, the circumstances justifying holding a child under 12, and completion of a "Juvenile Secure Custody Log." The policy still gives officers a lot of wiggle room to interpret a child's actions as a threat to public safety, but is a large step in the right direction.

At the November 5 meeting of the Citizen Review Committee (CRC), Capt. Dave Famous of the Professional Standards Division clearly stated that under this policy, Latoya Harris' daughter would not have been handcuffed or arrested.

What do we learn from this story? First that the PPB will not move on their own to address policy problems. It was a year after the unfortunate event that the work group was convened to work on a new and clear policy. This happened only after national embarrassment and the perception that the incident violated state law. We also learn that while the PPB does not move quickly, it does move. They don't admit guilt, but over time they do try to limit officer behavior that puts the Bureau in a compromising situation. Ms. Harris' actions show how important it is to speak out, to keep shining a light on questionable officer behavior.

Even though IPR Director Constantin Severe told CRC (and the press) that he forced the Bureau to process the complaint as a "Service Improvement Opportunity," the IPR's 2013 annual report reveals that it was handled "in effect, if not name, [as] an SIO."

  People's Police Report

January, 2015
Also in PPR #64

Police Shoot Another Black Man;
  PCW Lists 101 Statewide Cases

  8 More Police Shootings in Oregon

City Appeals Judge's Order on DOJ
Body Cameras and Civil Liberties
Police Post Policies for Pushback
  New Policy Prohibits Handcuffing Minors
Board Finds Rights Violation
Report Exposes System Failures
Shootings Report Ignores Race
Updates PPR 64
  • Mohamud Sentenced to 30 Years
  • Training Council Updates
City Delays Profiling Data Release
More Misery for Pdx Homeless
Oregon Illegal Entry, Free Speech
  and No-Fly List Court Victories

Quick Flashes
  • Chief Reese Retires, O'Dea on Deck
  • Man Awarded $500K After Beating
  • Police Attack Ferguson Solidarity Protests
Rapping Back

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 #64 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top