People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Police Review Division 2015 Annual Report: Better Graphics, Less Information
The ³Independent² Police Review Division (IPR) released its 2015 annual report four months earlier than last year, though the July 21 publication date was still later than requested by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Portland Copwatch (PCW) analyzed the 25 page
document and found that despite some improved graphics, the report contains even less information than the skimpy 2014 report, and as of press time the Auditorıs office, which houses IPR, has not released data tables supporting the information that was included.
Interestingly, because IPR counts its ³sustain rate² as how many investigated complaints have one or more findings an officer was out of policy, they report this year yielded the lowest percentage of ³Sustained² findings. That count comes from dividing 11 of 62 investigated complaints, rather than, as PCW has encouraged from day one, comparing Sustained findings to all complaints that come in the door. That analysis shows the rate was 2.8%, which is the third lowest since 2010 (2010 was 1.8% and 2011 was 2.1%).
IPR bragged about their conducting the most ³independent² investigations* in history, a low bar considering they never did any until 2013, initiated nine in 2014, and did 11 in 2015. They also fail to note that though they conducted just 11 of 62 investigations, two of the four appeals filed in 2015 were based on IPR investigations.
PCW also found:
• No specific data were given on (1) the number of force allegations, (2) the number of allegations sustained, (3) how many charges received what kinds of findings, (4) how often mediation and non-disciplinary complaints are used, (5) how many Racial Profiling complaints were filed and what happened to them, (6) how often Internal Affairs declined to investigate cases sent to them by IPR, (7) how many times the police were sued and whether that led to administrative investigations, (8) how many times the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) voted to ³Sustain² findings vs. recommending minor changes, (9) the overall length of time investigations are taking compared to the DOJıs mandated 180 days, or (10) what kinds of misconduct lead to what kinds of discipline.
• While IPR noted again that African Americans file a disproportionate number of complaints (21%), and (in a refreshing new analysis) listed the number of people of color shot by police in the last five years, they failed to note that 17% of people subjected to shootings/deaths in custody (4 of 23) were African American in a city that is 6% black.
• IPR incorrectly states that force complaints were down in 2015; in fact, they went up from 35 to 36 and Use of Force rose back from the 4th most frequent complaint to the #3 slot. PCW also posits, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the reason use of force has gone down in Portland is that with gentrification, there are fewer people for the police to beat up any more.
• The report over-emphasizes how deadly force incidents are handled differently from civilian complaints, reminding the community four times that such incidents cannot be appealed to the CRC. That fundamental unfairness needs to be addressed. If the only hold-up is the prohibition on IPR from investigating deadly force cases in the Portland Police Associationıs labor contract, that contract must be amended.
• IPR makes note that more Bureau-initiated complaints are sustained than civilian ones. However, they do not include any narratives of Bureau complaints, so itıs difficult to judge the seriousness of those violations-- which by definition cannot involve interactions with the community.
• A community memberıs chances of having their complaint investigated rose from 1 in 11 (9%) in 2014 to 1 in 6 (17%). Itıs likely this is due to the DOJ Agreement limiting how often IPR dismisses force complaints, which went from having 10% investigated to 84%. (That didnıt stop IPR from dismissing one of every six such complaints.)
• The report does not mention that in mid-2015, Council gave CRC the power to order IPR or IA to conduct further investigation, a power they exercised in a Taser case in October, nor does it mention CRCıs Crowd Control Report that went before City Council in January 2015.
• The outreach section admits that there is still a long way to go to successfully build trust with "immigrants, youth, and community members living with mental health issues," though arguably communities of color are not necessarily represented by the Chambers of Commerce highlighted as outreach "targets."
PCW urged the Auditor and IPR to expand the annual reports back to reasonable sized documents, include important data (such as 5-year trends), and give a more realistic view of a personıs chances of having their complaint adjudicated with a satisfactory outcome.
*-IPR relies on the Bureauıs Internal Affairs Division to compel officers to testify, so it is not fully independent.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.