Copwatch - a project of Peace and Justice Works]


Site Navigation

About us
People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Cool links
Other Information
Contact info


UPDATES People's Police Report September 2023

Police Association Compromises, A Little, On Pre-Review of Body Cam Footage

[KOIN-6TV, April 21]After over a year of haggling, the City and the Portland Police Association came to an agreement about the Body Worn Camera policy (PPR #89). The finalized policy, voted on by Council on April 26, includes the City's demand that officers not review footage before giving a statement or writing a report in serious use of force cases. While this is an apparent win for the community, the investigators also won't be able to look at the footage before interviewing the involved officer. So they take the officer's initial statement, then each go to a separate room and watch the video, then come back to get a revised statement. It's important they hear what was going on in the officer's mind because the Supreme Court ruling on police use of force says the decision can't be based on 20/20 hindsight. Perhaps more troubling than the ban on investigators looking at the footage is the part of the policy that says officers won't be disciplined for lying about why they shot someone unless the City can prove they lied. On the third hand, if the video shows the officer violated policy, the fact that they lied is not the main issue any more, right? The Policy pretty clearly says they can't look at other officers' body camera footage, but seems ambiguous about whether they can look at third party footage such as bystanders' recording devices or security cameras.

Another good item is that the restriction on pre-review also applies to "Category II" force, which means force that leads to serious injury but not death. Not so good: for levels III and IV (non- serious injury and no injury), supervisors are supposed to get a statement from the officer without recording it, but if they discover the force was actually more serious they DO have to record it. Does this means that Axon has added a time machine to their body cameras that allow the supervisor to start recording 2, 5, 10 or more minutes in the past? The cameras are technically running all the time, but only keep about 30 seconds "buffered" when the record button is pushed.

The US Department of Justice has reserved the right to disapprove of the policy if it isn't working out in the 60 day test period. Perhaps officers will refrain from using deadly or excessive force in that time and the policy won't get a full workout right away.

Back to top

Labor Contracts/Budget: Commanders Fix Oversight Oversight, Rank and File Score 43 New Positions

In late June, the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association (PPCOA) contract was placed on the City Council agenda. Portland Copwatch noticed several discrepancies between that and the contract signed by the Portland Police Association (PPA) in 2022 (PPR #86). Though somewhat subtle, they would have made it so that only Internal Affairs could review conduct by the Lieutenants in the PPCOA. PCW alerted City Council on Monday, June 26, and by Wednesday at the time of adoption the City and the Association had agreed to make the changes. The City Attorney even expressed thanks for PCW's letter. Score one for the community!

Meanwhile, the PPA managed to get City Council to put money for 43 new rank-and-file positions into the 2023-24 budget, even though there are about 100 officers who haven't been able to complete state training because of a backlog at the academy. But rather than wait to see whether those 100 officers can help speed up response times and take care of other concerns, or spend money on humanitarian needs for that matter, Council approved the extra positions. Bonus for the PPA: At the last minute, Council also added $500,000 for overtime in the 2022-23 budget.

Back to top

Police Drones Now Cruising Portland Skies

[PPB Twitter]After City Council approved the purchase of $80,000 worth of police surveillance drones in April (PPR #89), the kids couldn't wait for the holidays and bought themselves seven remote controlled planes, deploying them in June. Sgt. Jim DeFrain, who was one of three officers to kill Keaton Otis in 2010, told the media the drones will only be used for "traffic division, search and rescue, critical incidents and the explosive unit" (KPTV-12TV, June 8). He added that the drones will free up officers, accelerate investigations, and "de-escalate situations." For some reason, though DeFrain previously testified his unit was "very small" as a way to reassure Council drones would not be misused, the Bureau has certified 16 officers to operate them.

The officers who constantly talk about being short-staffed and over-worked also produced a short video using the drones that they jokingly referred to as a Wes Anderson movie (PPB Twitter, June 13). They will report to City Council next year to see whether they can extend the one-year pilot program.

Back to top

  [People's Police Report]

September, 2023
Also in PPR #90

PPB Officers Kill Again After Short Break
OR Law Enforcement Deadly Force Down a Bit
DOJ May Agree to Court Monitor for Portland
$150K+ More Paid for Police Protest Violence
 • "Restorative Justice": Indictment Dropped for Brutal Cop
Oversight Board Plan Ready for Approval
Independent Police Review Investigations Lag
2023 Review Board Report #1: No Deadly Force
City Council Criminalizes Camping
City Audit: PPB Spying Lacks Proper Rules
State Discipline Commission Prints Guide
Better Force Data Promised to Training Council
More Copwatch Comments on Bureau Policies
Quick Flashes PPR #90:
 • PPB Annual Report Missing Deadly Force, Race
 • Traffic Stop Data: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics
 • Immigrants Seeking Safety Denied Special Visas

Updates PPR #90:
 • Police Ass'n Compromises On Body Cam Pre-Review
 • Commanders Fix Oversight, Officers Get 43 New Positions
 • Police Drones Now Cruising Portland Skies

Rapping Back #90

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 #90 Table of Contents
Back to Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page
Back to top