People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Police Review Board Report Limits Information... Again
The January 2015 Police Review Board (PRB) report contains important information including final disciplinary decisions, but still lacks crucial details. It covered 12 cases in addition to two deadly shootings (article), which were among the shortest reports. The 14 cases encompassed 37 allegations, leading the PRB to make 26 "Sustained" (out of policy) recommendations.* Only two of the "Sustained" findings had to do with use of force-- and that was for two officers who engaged in an off-duty confrontation.
Portland Copwatch (PCW) noted that the Bureau's redacting information, including officers' names which have already appeared in the press, is heavy-handed and inappropriate-- as they also continue to black out pronouns identifying the gender of officers and community members. To illustrate the silliness of the edits, look at this sentence: "On multiple occasions, [Employee #1] [location/identifier] at the [division name/identifier] while [inappropriate behavior/conduct]." This inspired PCW to play the game "Police Review Board Mad Libs." That sentence became: "On multiple occasions, --Officer John Doe-- --snorted cocaine-- at the --beach in Costa Rica-- while -- making lewd remarks about Kim Kardashian--."
Of the 14 cases, only three were categorized solely as "C" (community member involved) complaints-- with the shootings categorized as "B," or Bureau-only. Of the 19 officers under investigation, four resigned before they could be disciplined.
The force case involving the off-duty officers is one of only 11 force complaints that have been Sustained out of 1600 since the Independent Police Review Division was created in 2001. The officers chased, tackled and punched a civilian, then waited for on-duty cops to arrive. The force was found out of policy, in part because they failed to use de-escalation and in part because two punches happened after the person was under control. In the other non-deadly force case, in which a man's arm was apparently broken, the officer was found in policy ("Exonerated"). The officer and witnesses heard a "popping sound" when the cop twisted the limb, but the officer didn't believe there was an injury. Two members of the PRB felt it was out of policy but only recommended low level "Command Counseling" as discipline, then were outvoted. The third stand-alone community member case ended up with two unanimous "Sustained" findings because the officer was rude and failed to assist the complainant at a police precinct.
The Bureau cases included a cop who failed to show up for a priority call (80 hours suspension); a cop lying to get another officer to run a background check on someone (80 hours suspension); a philandering cop who checked on a girlfriend, her spouse and a person who slashed the officer's tires while the officer visited the girlfriend (letter of reprimand); and an officer who botched the prosecution of a child abuse case, was rude to hospital staff, then lied to Internal Affairs (termination avoided by resignation). A fifth case combined community and Bureau concerns about Officer James Escobar. A person witnessed Escobar being rude on a bus (command counseling), while a criminal investigation examined why he was driving a personal vehicle with no license plates and racking up unpaid parking tickets (KOIN 4/14/14). The board recommended termination, but Escobar resigned.
The remaining cases included a supervising officer who admitted to making "sexual and derogatory comments regarding women" over the course of months (40 hours suspension); an officer who made inappropriate gestures and remarks, touched another officer, and lied to Internal Affairs (resigned before termination),** and an officer who tested positive for steroids during a random drug test (resigned before termination). The remaining case found Officer Kent Scott was found out of policy for his off-duty arrest after speeding/reckless driving and driving under the influence (Oregonian, February 19, 2014). Because Scott expressed remorse, the PRB recommended only a 40 hour suspension, which the Chief administered.
*-Most cases only come to the PRB after a commander has already recommended a "Sustained" finding.
**-These two cases re-enforce our demand that the Bureau give gender parity training to its officers.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.