People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
QUICK FLASHES PPR #90
In June, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) released a draft copy of its annual report for 2022. The Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing held a meeting to solicit feedback, as part of which Portland Copwatch outlined 10 areas that needed inclusion or improvement. As far as we can tell, the only thing that changed in the final version were two typographical errors we pointed out.
Here are some of the items where the Report fell short:
--The Bureau doesn't proactively tell the community that when they killed Immanueal Clark- Johnson on November 19, he was the first Black man killed by their officers since January 2019. They also don't note that three of the nine shootings in 2022 were committed by Focused Intervention Team officers in that unit's first year.
--They also don't explain which four officer uses of deadly force they investigated other than the nine by the PPB, nor do they report on or try to justify their decision to release names 15 days after shootings rather than 24 hours (see Shootings article).
--The only mention of traffic stop data is that the police are "undertaking actions to address areas of concern" identified in their analysis. The US Dept. of Justice Agreement requires discussion of disparities in stop data to be part of the Annual Report presentations. Though Chief Lovell did discuss some data at the July 25 East Precinct forum on the Report, that information should be included in what's posted for the community.
--There are no data on the outcomes of investigations into police misconduct, even though the number of cases investigated by Internal Affairs is included.
--While there is some discussion on use of force against people with mental illness, there are no specific data on how many times force was used, nor a mention of how many people police shot/shot at were in crisis.
The PPB held virtual community meetings for each Precinct (North, East and Central) in July. At
the one attended by a PCW member, none of these issues were addressed until we raised the issues
in the chat. For what it's worth. Lovell agreed that including the outcomes of Internal Affairs
investigations seems to make sense.
This summer, two key pieces of information came out about Portland Police's traffic stops. First and most alarmingly, traffic Sgt. Ty Engstrom (who tasered a noncompliant suspect in 2008 and roughed up houseless people and a dog in 2013-- PPRs #46 & 63) admitted that the Portland Police lied about the lack of officers patrolling the streets as a political ploy to get more funding (BikePortland, August 8). Also, the Bureau's new traffic stop data report for the year 2022 was published, showing that the Focused Intervention Team (FIT), which was formed in part because its two predecessor Gang Enforcement Teams over-stopped Black drivers, stopped Black people at a rate of 44% in a city that's 6% Black.
The new report continues the age-old statistical gymnastics where the Bureau claims the variation between Black people who are crime victims and who are stopped is not "statistically significant" whe n compared to white drivers. This conclusion is drawn even though the total is 1.3 times higher and there is no evidence that crime victimization has anything to do with one's driving habits. To their credit, the Bureau did not apply crime victimization rates to the FIT data, simply saying they had no benchmark to make a comparison. Black people continue to get asked to consent to a search more often than white people (2.2% vs 1.4%, a 57% difference). Consent searches only turn up contraband in 60% of incidents, compared to 79% when police are enforcing warrants.
When Portland Copwatch raised concerns about the PPB's policy on interacting with immigrant communities, we noted that a special program for undocumented immigrants allows them to obtain a visa if they are a crime victim and are willing to cooperate with police. Our concern was that people would be pressured into being informants for the police in exchange for safe harbor. Instead, it appears the Portland Police went too far in the other direction, denying over 50 such petitions in 2021 and 2022. The City Ombudsman found the cops had previously approved 90% of applications in the past, but that rate dropped below 50%. Apparently the police did not understand the way the law was supposed to work. The Ombudsman requested that 36 cases be reconsidered; hopefully that will happen before the people are deported due to administrative error (Oregonian, June 21).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.