People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Continue Asking For, Ignoring Input on Policies
By our count at the end of November, Portland Copwatch (PCW) had made comments on 68 unique police general orders ("Directives"),* some of them more than one time. This work has not been directly acknowledged by the Bureau. Some of the most important Directives, on Use of Force and Tasers, came up for a third round of public review, and other issues that have led to past recommendations by outside experts (such as the Foot Pursuit Directive) continue to indicate that the Bureau isn't listening to the advice it allegedly seeks.
In November, PCW's comments on the Use of Force (1010.00), Taser (1051.00) and Satisfactory Performance (315.30) Directives mostly repeated previous comments, such as asking the Bureau to stop saying that officers may be "required" to use force or deadly force. We asked (again) that Tasers be tracked when officers use the laser sight to signal their intent to shock someone with 50,000 volts. The Bureau also asked for input into policies on various other specific weapons: Firearms (1020.00), "Less-lethal" Munitions (1050.00), Pepper Spray (1040.00), and Batons (1030.00). PCW continues to ask the Bureau to create a chart so that officers and the public know where the various weapons fall along the levels of force options offered to police. Also, we wondered why the policies allow officers to use other objects, such as flashlights, to strike subjects yet doesn't mention the potential that they (as well as pepper spray) can be potentially lethal, even though that concern is noted about "less lethal" shotguns.
We particularly focused on the section of the Force Directive that led to a Police Captain believing an officer moving his arm to swat a protestor's flashlight away (or, pushing her, depending whose story you go by) was not a use of force (article).
In October, we commented on the Foot Pursuit Directive (630.15), invoking the memory of James Chasse (PPR #40) and noting that in 2013, the OIR Group "indicated that by initiating foot pursuits, officers increase the likelihood of using force/deadly force." The proposed Directive didn't include a prohibition on running with a shotgun or rifle, but instead suggested that reasons to pursue someone might include if they look back at the officer or hold onto their clothing "to keep a weapon in." That month we also commented on the Directives about Child Abuse Investigations (640.30), Sexual Abuse Investigations (640.20) and Bias Crime Reporting (640.80), which includes a strange part of the state statute requiring police to report on (but not make arrests based on) bias for or against a labor organization.
We also had recommendations in September around the Bureau's policies on officer-involved domestic violence (825.10), domestic violence among community members (825.00), and civilian cop programs (Reserve Officers-630.23 and Cadets-630.25). We were particularly concerned that the Bureau not re-traumatize survivors of violence, and that Reserve officers not continue to be given awards for firearms proficiency.
The August Directives included the elusive "Gang Affiliation Designation" policy (640.05) which defines that term but not "gang-related," which is being used to pump up numbers and justify asking for more cops in general and in particular on the Gang Enforcement Team ( article). We called for the policy to include cautions about imposing institutional racism on "gang" investigations. We called for the Training Directive (1500.00) to explicitly state that training and policy match one another. This suggestion was picked up by the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) at its September meeting (article). We also commented on 630.05-Vehicle Pursuits and other policies too numerous to list here. If you want to receive our commentaries (and other information), send us an email requesting to be added to our bulk list: email@example.com.
One final note: PCW, the Citizen Review Committee, the COAB, and even the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison have now asked that the Bureau provide "red-line" versions of the Directives so that people can see what is being proposed or what has changed, yet the Bureau continues to post their proposals without any hints to figure that out.
The PPB posts its monthly Directives updates at portlandoregon.gov/police/59757.
*-For reasons including prioritization and objectionable content (use of informants), PCW has declined to comment on 20 other Directives.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.