People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Training Advisory Council Focuses on Taser Use, Force Statistics and Demographics
After their January meeting was cancelled due to snow, the Training Advisory Council (TAC) ended up meeting two months in a row--in February and March, focusing mainly on the Bureau's policies and training on Tasers. The February meeting also included information from Captain Mike Krantz, the "Force Inspector," on statistics about PPB Use of Force in third quarter 2016.
The TAC heard from Officer Paul Meyer (whose name you may recognize from when he filed complaints against three members of the Community Oversight Advisory Board, but then resigned as an advisor when his complaints weren't upheld-- PPR #68) and Officer Erik Daniels in February about how Tasers work and what Bureau training and policy say. They did not mention the US Department of Justice (DOJ)'s lawsuit against the City that found the Bureau uses excessive force, particularly with Tasers, until 15 minutes into their discussion when someone asked why the Bureau chose this time to review its policies. Daniels said he spends a week with manufacturer Taser, International* on trainings every two years; it is not clear if Taser foots the bill for this (as they have for instructors in the past).
In March, Daniels returned with an Officer Harris, also from training, who told the TAC that by the time you see whether the Taser was effective, you need to use it again. This is an alarming comment coming from trainers, since the policy clearly states officers must evaluate effectiveness after each use and then defend each squeeze of the trigger. They explained that Tasers aren't used for Crowd Control because the cops fear they can cause a "panic," which is also odd since cops feel fine using concussion grenades, "stingballs," tear gas and "flash-bangs," all of which are equally as frightening if not more so. Both meetings underplayed the danger posed by Tasers, though one TAC member asked about officers getting injured by volunteering to be zapped. In February, Training Captain Bob Day said that doesn't really happen. In March, PCW reminded Day and the TAC of an article from the Arizona Republic (which we quoted in PPR #35) about a Maricopa County deputy who suffered a fractured back after being hit by a Taser for only one second; ironically, Captain Day (then a Sergeant) was cited in that article. TAC set up task forces to look at various aspects of Taser use so they can make recommendations to the Bureau by June.
There was no mention at either meeting about how the current model of Taser (the X2) has a button where officers can easily accidentally discharge 50,000 volts into someone (as happened with Matt Klug in 2014-- see article).
Prior to the Use of Force presentation at the February meeting, PCW analyzed the statistics and found that over 1/4 of the force was used against people with perceived mental illness and a whopping 44% are listed as "transients." Moreover, in Q2 2016 37% of force was used against African Americans in Portland, which dropped to 29% (about the average) in Q3. Portland is 6% black. PCW's Dan Handelman noted that we had to do the math since those statistics weren't published in the reports (even though both PCW and the TAC recommended including them), stating it seemed as if the Bureau was trying to hide the information since they aren't printing it. Captain Day interrupted and denied the Bureau was trying to hide anything. At the beginning of the March meeting, Day apologized to Handelman and the Council for interrupting public comment, an unexpected but welcome moment of humanity from an officer we've crossed paths with many times over the years (PPR #59, for example).
The TAC didn't dive into why these disproportionate incidents are happening, but did ask Capt. Krantz questions about looking at demographic data by precinct (can be done) or by officer (nope). They set up a work group to make recommendations about the Use of Force data, in line with what's required of them by the DOJ Agreement.
It was also revealed at the March meeting that all patrol officers went through 4 hours of crowd control training before the inauguration in January.
*-Taser changed its name to AXON on April 5.
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