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Training Advisory Council Makes First Formal Recommendations in Nearly Four Years

The Police Bureau's Training Advisory Council (TAC) was inaugurated in September, 2012, just as the US Department of Justice (DOJ) was finalizing an Agreement with the City on ways to reduce use of force against persons in mental health crisis. Although this body has been operating for four years, it wasn't until June 2016 that they finally made their first recommendations to the Bureau. The bulk majority of their ideas address how to deliver training and have little to do with reducing the use of force used against Portlanders, particularly against vulnerable populations. Furthermore, despite having three years' worth of data on Use of Force which clearly show African Americans, people experiencing houselessness, and people with mental health issues all receive a disproportionate amount of force, the TAC stated in their document that they are unable to analyze the data because there has not been enough time to see trends.

The Council used its May meeting to break into work groups focusing on four areas: Use of Force Summary Reports, Use of Language ("Words Matter"), Coaching Trainers, and Training Evaluation. In July, they (briefly) reviewed the finished proposals. To their credit, the Use of Force section encourages the Bureau to resume publishing data showing demographics of people subjected to force, which Portland Copwatch (PCW) suggested when those data were omitted starting about a year ago. The "Words Matter" section tells the Bureau to change their lesson plans to eliminate the "us vs. them" mentality and language encouraging officers to twist the facts to justify their use of force. While some recommendations do not go far enough (PCW noted some language changes were the equivalent of calling a person a "donkey" instead of a "jackass"), they did ask that official training documents stop using the analogy of the public as sheep/police as sheepdogs, and the term "warrior mentality." PCW has seen these terms in the Portland Police Association newsletter, but did not realize they were part of PPB training as well. It also came out that until the Use of Language group delved into the files, the TAC never had full access to Training Division documents, and that the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) appears to have received more such documents than the Council. Having signed confidentiality forms, TAC members had been asked to examine documents at the Bureau and leave their notes behind.

The TAC's Evaluation section expresses concern that other advisory bodies are making recommendations about Training which are not "best practices," suggesting all proposals about Training be channeled through them. They did not specify to what groups-- or proposals-- they were referring. It makes sense for the groups to talk to one another, but not for the TAC-- which, unlike the COAB, the Citizen Review Committee, and the Community/Police Relations Committee is selected only by the police-- to act as a gatekeeper on this issue.

It should also be noted that some of the TAC members are professionals in the learning field, so some of the recommendations are full of technical jargon such as "ancillary training materials," "visualizations," and "learning product examples of 'Toolbox Talkcards.'"

Also, the section on Coaching Trainers contains one of the best-- and clearest-- recommendations in the report, suggesting their work should benefit the PPB by "designing courses that address the balanced concerns of the Bureau and the community."

As a team-buliding exercise at their July meeting, TAC members were asked to assemble Lego models and instruct their peers, including cops, how to re-create the contraptions. ---

See the report at portlandoregon.gov/police/article/581 581

PCW's analysis is at portlandcopwatch.org/tac_com ments_0716.html

  People's Police Report

September, 2016
Also in PPR #69

Police Shoot At, Miss One
  Other Oregon Shootings--2 Per Month
DOJ Staff, Board Ask for Divorce
Chief Shoots Friend, Steps Down
Review Board Faces Changes
Police Oversight Report Has Less Info
May Day 2016: Small Police Presence
Sheriff Staton Hits the Trail
Profiling: "Gang" Arrests, Stop Data
Cops Plan More Homeless Sweeps
Training Council Recommendations
Mayor Secretly Negotiates Contract
PPB Policy Review at Slow Crawl
Updates PPR 69
  • PPB May Let Cops See Body Cam Footage
  Police Use Pole Cameras
  Copwatchers Receive Settlements
  Entrapped Man Appeals Terror Ruling
Legal Briefs: Evidence, Phones, Cops
Quick Flashes PPR 69
  Officer in DUI Flips Car in Crash
  Cop Sprays Dog Walker
Rapping Back #69

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.

People's Police Report #69 Table of Contents
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