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Community Police Relations Committee Nearly Suspended

The Community/Police Relations Committee (CPRC) is an ongoing committee of the Portland Human Rights Commission (HRC) and is staffed and funded by the Office of Equity and Human Rights (OEHR). The evidence from the committee╣s recent and current history point to a very troubled organization. HRC Chair Chabre Vickers dropped a huge challenge to the group as their July meeting was about to wrap up: CPRC was to stop meeting for three months while the HRC consolidates its law enforcement related programs. After an hour of overtime discussion, Vickers agreed to withdraw her proposal so long as CPRC starts producing results instead of just ideas.

CPRC╣s mandate to coordinate the training of all police on the topic of institutional racism has stalled. They have continued to lose committee members -- most recently Damon Turner. Dante James, the director of OEHR, expressed a loss of confidence in their performance (PPR #65). Lack of effective leadership from Sam Sachs, the committee╣s chair, has contributed to these problems-- including his tendering his resignation one meeting and withdrawing that comment at the next. In early July, OEHR announced that HRC (and CPRC) would not get one minute more than the 20 hour a week staffing that is budgeted for their support.

This situation is all the more problematic given their mission of "bringing together members of Portland's diverse communities and its police officers to improve community and police relations" and the fact that this group is referenced in the Agreement between the Dept. of Justice and the City of Portland.

The May meeting was canceled; the June 17 meeting was not well attended--only one of five designated officers (highly unusual) and a few civilian members showed up. Given the committee╣s mission and the serious issues facing the PPB in recent years, it seems odd that their most engaging discussion had to do with getting police training on how not to be rude to civilians. In August, though they wanted to get work done, they continued to merely talk about getting work done.

Oregon Bans Racial and Other Forms of Profiling

In the interface between Law Enforcement and Racial Justice the news is often frustrating and disheartening. But today, Civil Rights and Human Rights advocates and members of the public attentive to justice issues have reason to celebrate -- for a change -- the passage of HB 2002 overwhelmingly in the legislature and its signing into law by the governor.

HB 2002 requires, among other things, all Oregon law enforcement agencies by January 2016 to ban profiling and establish procedures for reporting profiling incidents. Under HB 2002 profiling is where an officer targets someone for a suspected violation solely based on a characteristic such as race, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or homelessness. (Including the word │solely▓ could mean the law╣s definition is too narrow--see Directives article.)

This law grants Portland State University╣s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute $250,000 to track state data on profiling complaints.

While this is a great step forward, the law doesn╣t include a statewide mechanism to investigate and adjudicate complaints of profiling. Since Portland is the city with the most robust oversight system and has only found one │disparate treatment▓ complaint out of policy in 13 years, we wonder what will happen in smaller jurisdictions that rely solely on the police for investigations.

  People's Police Report

September, 2015
Also in PPR #66

More PPB Shootings by July
  Than All of 2014

  OR Shootings Echo National Epidemic
PRB Report: Misconduct,
  Discipline, Shootings

DOJ Settlement Creaks Forward
Review Board Gains Power
Audit Exposes Training Flaws
Changes in PPB Directives
O'Deas of Our Lives 66
CPRC Nearly Disbanded
  Oregon Bans Profiling
Homeless Beset All Around
Police Attack May Day 2015
OR Restricts Access to Phones
Updates PPR 66
  • OR Body Cams and Copwatching Laws
  • Police Exaggerate "Gang" Problems
Rapping Back #66

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.

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