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Training Advisory Council Voluntarily Conducts Use of Force Analysis Not Done by Professionals
Makes Compromise on Force Demographics Reporting as Protest Force Data Arrives

image of Nov , 2020 TAC meeting showing Lt. Sapper presenting 
the Q2 crowd force dataThe Police Bureau's Training Advisory Council (TAC) met in September and November, continuing to analyze and make recommendations about the Bureau's Use of Force Data, among other topics. TAC Chair Shawn Campbell pulled together an analysis separating out "low level" force the PPB was required to track starting in 2017 from force being tracked all along. This analysis should have been done by the highly paid Compliance Officer/Community Liaison, but those consultants have refused, saying "we can't compare apples and oranges." Surprisingly, the TAC analysis shows a decline in most uses of force; however, it also shows there has been no change in African American Portlanders bearing the brunt of far more police force than is reflected in their percentage of the population. On that note, TAC's recommendation to add population data to the Bureau's quarterly force reports ended in a compromise in the form of including a link to census data-- on the back page of the report. Big news broke at the November meeting, where new Force Inspector Lt. John Sapper presented the Crowd Control Data from second quarter (Q2) 2020, showing the police used force over 2000 times in the first five weeks of protests following the killing of George Floyd.

With no media at the November meeting, Portland Copwatch broke the news that of the 2378 uses of force listed by the Bureau, at least 1582 uses (66.5%) were the application of chemical agents, impact weapons or "strikes/kicks." At the meeting, Sapper claimed "most" of the force was "category IV" low level uses like "control against resistance" and "resisted handcuffing." A few days later, the Bureau released the Q3 data, showing the police used force against crowds an additional 3871 times from July to September (Portland Mercury Blog, November 16). This time, higher level uses of force made up just 29.6% of the reported violence. However, the PPB made it clear to TAC in the report and in a presentation to the Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP) on November 17 that the numbers are an under- representation. Even though officers claiming they pushed a person "3-5 times" were counted as five uses of force (the high estimate), officers who said they don't know how many people they pushed (or how many times) were only listed as one.

A separate report presented by Campbell at the September meeting shows the decline in crime over the past 30 years and trends downward in specific kinds of force used. One area showing a steep decline is officers pointing firearms, which went down from about 400 times a year to under 100 in 2019. In the "apples to apples" report showing reported force before and after new categories were added in 2017, there's a drop in force against African Americans, mostly driven by the drop in pointed firearms. The difficulty involved in doing an independent survey makes it impossible to know whether this was a true reduction in force, or just police reluctance to fill out paperwork.

In terms of the Bureau's reports on non-protest force-- and it's worth mentioning that the US Department of Justice Settlement Agreement does not distinguish protest/non-protest actions when saying the PPB has to find ways to use less violence-- the Q2 and Q3 reports show African Americans made up 26% of those who were subjected to police assaults in that six month period. There are no demographic data for the crowd control figures. The TAC tried for nearly two years to have the police include census data to show only 6% of Portland's population is Black, while African Americans make up 25% or more of people subjected to police use of force. Instead of the requested side-by-side presentation of the contrasting figures, a back page footnote in the Q3 report provides a link to the census data explains why the PPB compares the custody ratio to force. In essence, they claim a lot of (Black) people come in from outside the City limits and are subjected to force (something they could easily prove by cross-referencing addresses in force/custody data to race) and, in so many words, that Black people commit more crimes. It's clear that 20 years of discussing racial profiling with the PPB has had little effect (see article this issue). To be clear, the Q3 report will go before the TAC in January; it was released to the Mercury and PCCEP after the TAC November meeting.

In November, the TAC also put out a recommendation to make better use of the Public Safety Support (PSS) Specialist program, which involves not-fully-sworn officers carrying nothing more than pepper spray to deal with low level calls for service. The recommendation's most important aspect is a listing of exactly what the PSS Specialists have been doing for the couple of years they've been in existence. According to the report, about 46% of their calls are about stolen vehicles and 27% are about thefts, with "follow up, vandalism reports and other duties" making up the rest.

In September, the Council voted to have the Bureau prioritize hiring staff to focus on equity issues and to support most of a PCCEP recommendation to evaluate existing advisory boards (but wisely cautioning against making all the boards use the same bylaws).

More info on the TAC can be found at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/61449.

  People's Police Report

January, 2021
Also in PPR #82

100+ Days of Protests and Police Violence
  Officer Indicted for On-Duty Assault with Vehicle
Portland Out of Compliance with DOJ Agreement
Oversight Board Continues; New System Voted In
No PPB Shootings but Two Incidents in Washington
  • State Deadly Force Incidents Pass Average Despite Pandemic
Outside Report Knocks '18 Shooting of Black Man
New Profililng Reports Show Same Disparities
Houseless Community Faces Winter, COVID, Sweeps
Terror Task Force: Community Wants Full Withdrawal
• Training Council Analyzes Use of Force
 • Second Round of Police Budget Cuts Scuttled
 • Police Contract Talks to Restart in January
 • Lawsuits Total Nearly $16 M in 28 Years
 • New "Brady Rule" Policy and Other Policies Posted
Rapping Back #82

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.

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