People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
PPB Policies: Repeat Postings Underscore Lack of Positive Changes, New Timeline Won't Improve Input
From December to March, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) posted 18 of its Directives (policies) on line for public feedback. Most of the policies are ones that have previously been considered, so that meant coming up with suggestions was often as easy as copying and pasting comments previously made by Portland Copwatch (PCW). The downside, however, is that very few of our old comments were adopted by the PPB, and even so, rarely substantive ones. For example, in the Training Directive (1500.00), posted in mid-February for follow up from December, the only change was one PCW suggested: fixing the name of the PPB's own Training Advisory Council (they had called it a "Committee"). Whereas in the Force policy (1010.00), they refused to remove the term "excited delirium" even though they agree with PCW it is not a medically accepted phrase- - because the US Department of Justice (DOJ) told them it was a "term of art." For what it's worth, Chief Outlaw responded directly to our December comments with the sentence: "I appreciate the input greatly."
Here's a summary of what was posted and what we said:
March: PCW repeated most of its comments about the Force Directive, emphasizing again the PPB should stop using the word "de-escalation" to mean both using physical/verbal means to lower the likelihood of violence and using less force when force has already been applied. On two policies around Weapons (Administration-1020.00 and Qualifications-1021.00) PCW urged the Bureau to act like responsible gun owners and not point weapons at people unless they are prepared to fire, and to ensure that officers don't use unregistered secondary firearms. We reminded the PPB of recommendations about towing vehicles-- especially if the vehicle is a person's home-- made by the Citizen Review Committee in 2007. The most changes were made to the policy on Vehicle Pursuits (630.35), where we primarily focused on officer actions that might be considered deadly force.
February: The PPB re-posted the Crowd Control Directive (635.10) in its form as published last August. PCW used its September analysis to repeat dozens of recommendations that were not adopted, including the prohibiting of violent arrests, targeting people by name over police loudspeakers, and targeting those observing police. On that note, the Bureau also posted Directive 635.20 on "Community member observation of police." The title itself was changed per our suggestion-- "citizen observation" had implied immigrants could not copwatch. However, their policy still allows police to go beyond what state law allows in terms of reasons police can prevent people from recording law enforcement activity. They also asked for more input on their Employee Information System (Directive 345.00), which PCW pointed out goes too easy on officers who use deadly force and, due to the required on-scene investigation of other force incidents by PPB Sergeants, seems to bypass the idea of civilian oversight.
January: Only two Directives were posted. PCW only commented on the Cadets policy (630.25). Though it was changed considerably from its 2015 iteration, a number of loopholes remained or were newly opened, including whether Cadets can have a criminal past, are required to be trained for most activities, or must have a driver's license to operate a police vehicle. It also allows Cadets (ages 16-20) to work 44 hours per week.
December: Our first set of comments on the Training policy (following up from 2015) urged the Bureau to do more to ensure Training matches Policy, define the term "procedural justice" from somewhere other than Wikipedia (which only addresses the public "perception" of being treated with respect and dignity), and to put more emphasis on de-escalation. We also commented on their Gratuities/Gifts/Rewards policy (313.10) and Statement of Ethical Conduct (300.00). We only briefly mentioned policies on informants (since we find the practice distasteful), noting that the current version of 660.32 puts the head of the Drugs and Vice Division in charge of screening all informants/agents. We wrote the policy is strange structurally, but moreover "the head of DVD over the last several years has been the dubious Captain Mark Kruger. Given Kruger's past honoring Nazis, attacking protestors... and having his sustained findings expunged from his record through a lawsuit, perhaps this idea should be revisited to include more checks and balances. That is, if the Bureau wants to continue to pay people to lie to put other people in jail."
The Bureau also posted about a dozen Directives which have been finalized following this feedback process, including the "Directives Directive" (010.00), which states that starting in April, the public will now have 30 days to comment on the proposed new drafts of policies. This is a good development, but they also shortened the comment period prior to the rewrites to 15 days, continuing to make the entire process difficult for groups which only meet once a month.
Find the Bureau's Directives on line at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/59757
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.