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PPB May Let Cops See Body Cam Footage

On June 21, the Oregonian reported that language in the draft contract between the city and the police "union" would allow Portland officers to review video recordings from body cameras of another officer's use of deadly force before writing reports or being interviewed. Three days later, the Oregonian wrote a scathing editorial about this practice entitled "Draft body cam policy places union's concerns over public's." This editorial notes police accountability experts contend allowing an officer to review the recording before an interview or writing a report may hurt the quality of an investigation into officer conduct. This editorial referenced the case of 16 year old Thai Gurule, who police kicked, punched and tasered in 2014 (PPR #65). The police maintained Gurule attacked officers, but non-police video footage contradicted the officers' reports. If the cops had viewed the recording first, it might have changed their testimony to fit the tape. The editorial calls for the public to weigh in on this policy.

We agree with the Oregonian editorial. Portland Copwatch (PCW) has remained neutral on the issue of body cameras in part because we believe the City must present its proposed body camera policies to the public for meaningful review and input. The Police Bureau did hold a series of public meetings on the issue, but they were poorly attended and many people were not well versed regarding body cameras (PPR #67). PCW recommends the City develop best practice protocols with input from organizations such as the ACLU and other cities. The City must hold a public discussion and vote on policies regarding who can see the recordings and when, how are these data saved, when the body cameras must be recording and when they can be turned off, among other things. Until then, the issue of body cameras should be put on hold.

Additionally, we wonder why the Police Association gets to weigh in on issues of city policy, negotiating behind closed doors without public scrutiny (article).

Police Use of Pole Cameras

Along the same lines, Portland Police used cameras placed on utility poles on Columbia Boulevard to gather evidence about a stolen car ring. They never gained warrants to place these cameras, and according to the May 1 Oregonian, there was no oversight or documentation about the operation. On May 6, The Oregonian reported Multnomah County Circuit Judge Thomas Ryan determined most of the video was legally obtained. The only time it was not legal was when the gates of the yard were closed, because there was an expectation of privacy after business hours. One of the officers named in the placing of the camera is Detective Travis Fields, who shot at (and missed) Michael Tate in 2012 (PPR #57).

Two Cop-Watchers Receive Settlements for Officer Interference

In two separate incidents, people who recorded police officer conduct on video were awarded settlements for the officers' inappropriate interference with their First Amendment Rights. Bob West, with Film the Police 911 PDX, had a run-in with Officer Scott Groshong which resulted in a "Sustained" finding against that officer for his unprofessional behavior in blocking/grabbing West's camera (PPR #68 and article this issue.). West sued the City for Groshong's misconduct and received a settlement of $5000-- the maximum allowed before the case would have to be heard before City Council. In Gresham, Fred Marlow IV was recording SWAT team activity near his home in 2014 when they threw him to the ground and arrested him. The Oregonian's website reported two outcomes of this incident on April 26: (1) in November 2015, Marlow was awarded $7500 by the City of Gresham to settle his claim of police brutality, and (2) the district attorney revived previously dismissed criminal charges a week after the settlement, leading to Marlow being convicted of interfering with the police in April. The article points out that HB 2704, which essentially legalized copwatching (PPR #66), was not in effect until June 2015, meaning that West technically had greater protection than Marlow, but still, the contradictory message is disturbing.

Convicted, Entrapped Somali American Man Appeals Ruling

On July 6, lawyers for Mohammed Mohamud, a Somali American who was a teenager when the FBI entrapped him into a November 2010 fake bomb plot in Portland (PPR #52), filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit. The main thrust of their argument was that the government came to focus on Mohamud because his contact information was obtained while agents were using surveillance on persons outside the United States under the auspices of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-- without a warrant. They also raised issues about how the undercover agents who set Mohamud up were allowed to narrate the videos of the sting operation, potentially biasing the criminal trial. Two of the three judges considering the appeal peppered the prosecution with questions about whether there may have been harm done by the testimony. The US Attorney's office glibly asserted that they meant to say there was no harm done in their pleading but forgot. The ACLU of Oregon and the Electronic Frontier Foundation both supported the appeal. It could be months before a decision is rendered. back to top

  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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