People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Odea's of Our Lives PPR #67 More Mediocre Maneuvers
Mean More Misconduct
For years, many in the community have demanded the the City remove the "48-hour rule" from collective bargaining contracts with Portland Police (PPR #61, for example), so officers would no longer be given two days to get their stories straight before being compelled to answer questions about shootings and other high profile incidents. Chief Larry O'Dea and the city made a step towards getting rid of that provision when, on October 28, City Council approved the new contract for the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association (PPCOA), which is comprised solely of 31 Lieutenants. The new contract removes the 48-hour rule language and offers 2% raises and education-related incentives; however, they left intact sections that say administrative interviews will take place in a police facility and the Lts. will be given the name and rank of the officer who will interview them. This implies the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR), which has been conducting investigations into misconduct allegations for the last year or so, technically can't do so unless they go to a precinct and have an officer ask questions. When Portland Copwatch (PCW) raised this concern at Council, the head of the Bureau of Human Resources brushed aside the criticism, saying that the City Code guiding IPR provides for civilian investigators to interview cops. In fact, it says IPR has to follow whatever is written in the bargaining agreement.
Moreover, the City Attorney, discussing the rule at the status conference on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Agreement with the City (article here), indicated the 48-hour rule never applied to shooting incidents anyway, since there is an exception for when there is a criminal investigation. (PCW came to that conclusion years ago, but nobody from the City would respond to our concerns.) Moreover, because officers are voluntarily giving statements, the rule actually hasn't been invoked because it only applies to statements when officers are ordered to testify under threat of discipline. The DOJ indicated that in at least two of the five shootings this year, officers were interviewed more than 48 hours after the incident.
So while the Chief may score some political points for removing the clause-- which is a good thing- - ultimately, it may not have as much of an effect as the community expected. Beyond that, only one Lieutenant has been involved in a shooting in recent years, so the 48-hour rule also needs to come out of the Portland Police Association contract, affecting line officers and Sergeants. The PPA contract similarly implies that only police can run investigations, and specifically says IPR should not be involved in deadly force investigations. Negotiations will likely start sometime in 2016.
The Oregonian published a blistering investigation on September 13, revealing the Bureau failed to test over 2000 rape kits even after the City Auditor called attention to inadequate investigations in 2007, prompting then-Chief Sizer to supposedly take action to remedy the problem. Chief O'Dea wrote a lengthy op-ed piece two weeks later explaining changes that the Bureau made, starting when he became Chief in January 2015. However, since lack of resources was one of the excuses the Bureau gave for its past inaction (another was "discretion left to investigator, due to no mandatory submission policy"), and the Bureau did not receive a $1.2 million federal grant until September, it remains to be seen whether this commitment to justice is real or just another empty promise.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.