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PCW Calls Attention to High Use of Vehicle Crashes,
Other Issues in Comments on Policies

Since 2014, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has posted roughly 175 of their policies ("Directives") online for public comment, many of them three or more times. Portland Copwatch (PCW) has made comments on over 130 of them. Sometimes we have mild success in making changes, but overall the project helps us educate the community (and the cops) about where the policies are not in the best interest of the people they supposedly protect and serve. In October, they updated their Bias Crime and several Domestic/Sexual Violence Directives. In November, PCW noted an alarming trend in the use of Vehicle Intervention Techniques being used in the real-world when commenting on the related policy.

[KOIN-TV6 October articleOctober: The "Bias Crime Reporting" Directive seemed to ignore that police themselves are often perpetrators of such crimes. There were no requirements to report crimes against people based on their "marital status, political affiliation or beliefs, age, economic or social status" although those are mandatory in state law for prejudice training for police. Inexplicably, the list of crimes did not include murder or attempted murder.

The several Domestic Violence Directives addressed restraining ("protection") orders, sexual assault kits, and when police are survivors or perpetrators of domestic violence. For the first two, PCW again urged the PPB to consider if the survivor has a preference for the gender of the officer responding to their incidents. For the second one specifically, we suggested minimizing how many interviews sexual assault survivors should be required to undergo. For the third, we expressed concern about rules allowing officers who commit domestic violence crimes to come back to work and maybe even access firearms.

November: We noted that the vehicle interventions described in the PPB's policy can be life- threatening to the person in the pursued car, cautioning that they should be used in a much more limited capacity than the 87 times the Pursuit Intervention Technique and the 114 times Box- ins were used between July 2022 and June 2023 (per the Bureau's own data). The very serious Ramming was used eight times in the year. This means one of those techniques was used on average once every 1.7 days.

Items we listed to improve the policy: better inclusion of Supervisors when car chases happen, what level of force is examined when officers crash patrol cars into suspect cars (or use "spike strips"), and to require cops to stop and stay on scene if they run into a bystander's car while chasing a suspect. In December, Chief Day held a news conference announcing looser standards, claiming suspects previously knew they wouldn't be chased, but that the PPB will still consider the impact on the community before engaging (KPTV-12, December 15).

Later in November the PPB asked for input into the Joint Terrorism Task Force policy, which had no proposed changes. PCW reminded them to memorialize in writing that cases sent from the PPB to the FBI, which are now reported as a "courtesy" at annual reports to Council, should be a required part of their report. They also re-posted the policy on Active Bystandership, which encourages cops to stop and/or report on other officers violating policy or the law, with some unclear sections such as the use of the term "passive bystandership" only once in the document. For the Stolen Vehicles policy, PCW reminded the Bureau about the case of the woman whose car got stolen and towed because an officer didn't believe she was the owner (PPR #83), leading to a unanimous City Council vote to find the officer violated policy. The policy should discourage jaded cops from not believing the public.

December: The Deadly Force policy came up and PCW strongly suggested moving the release time of officer names back from 15 days to 24 hours (see shootings and chief articles). Also up were the Force Directive, which still doesn't describe de-escalation as well as it should, Force Reporting, which added (perhaps at our suggestion) officer pushes with batons as a required reporting action, and Ballistic Shields, just in time for the PPB's recent decision to purchase multiple shields for testing. The Domestic Violence policies posted in October came back and, while not greatly improved, now use the word "survivor" instead of "victim" as PCW suggested.

  [People's Police Report]

January, 2024
Also in PPR #91

Community Oversight Plan Dismantled by City
DOJ Agreement 1/2 Terminated, Court Monitor OKd
Police Violence Costs the City Another $371,000+
 • "Union" Pays Former Commissioner $680K for False Claims
PPB Kills Third Person in 2023
 • Man in Mental Health Crisis Dies in Milwaukie Cops' Custody
State Police Deadly Force Down from 42 to 30+
 • More News: D.Clark, DEA/Qualified Immunity, CW Graphic
Review Committee Loses Five Members, Gains One
IPR Annual Report Adds Some Detail, Omits Others
Criminalization of Homelessness on Hold
Medford Police Continue Spying on Activists
 • Mohammed Mohamud Loses Appeal Bid
Chief Lovell Steps Down, Bob Day Takes Over
Deputies Indicted: Jail Deaths, Off-Duty Fight
Profiling Data Discussed at Two Public Meetings
Training Council Delays Force Data Presentations
Car Crashes Spotlit in Comments on Police Policies
State Discipline Rules Updated at Iffy Meetings
Still No Deadly Force in Review Board Report
Updates PPR #91:
 • Council Approves Body Cameras as Pilot Ends Without Data
 • Drone Use Slowly Creeping Up Month by Month

Rapping Back #91

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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