by Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch

On May 6, 2003, the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR) put out its first annual report.

The IPR consists of an office of seven staff members which does intake and processing of civilian complaints about police misconduct, and the 9-member Citizen Review Committee (CRC). The IPR is under the auspices of the City Auditor, who is elected separately from Portland's five City Council members, including the Mayor. Its main function is to oversee investigations of complaints by the Police Bureau's Internal Affairs Division (IAD).

The report is 168 pages long plus an introduction, and was not released to the public before its presentation to a speak-by-invitation-only City Council "informal" session that day. Please note that despite the length of this analysis, it is by no means an exhaustive set of recommendations for Portland's police oversight system.

Below is an analysis by Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch broken into four basic categories:

  • IPR Ordinance
  • Process/structure
  • Misconduct case outcomes
  • The Report and Its Statistics













    The report opens with a questionable statement from Auditor Gary Blackmer, who oversees the IPR, setting the tone for the whole report: "No other jurisdiction has a program with as much independence or as many tools for change" (overleaf). This may come as a surprise to cities like San Francisco, in which officers are compelled to cooperate with the citizen complaint investigators of the Office of Citizen Complaints; where the review system is housed outside of City Hall and the Police Bureau; and where the board has the power to recommend discipline.

    The report states that "The mission of the City Auditor's office is to foster open and accountable government" (p. 153), yet the Auditor has worked to prohibit the CRC from reviewing shootings and deaths in custody, and prevent them from reviewing the incident in which Jose Santos Mejia Poot was beaten after being taken off of a TriMet bus.

    While portions of the problems with the IPR can be traced to problems with the Ordinance that created the it, other comments on its structure and implementation follow. Comments in brackets [] refer to the table on p. 154 that has a comparison of the previous PIIAC system, the Mayor's Work Group Reports, the Police Accountability Campaign (PAC) initiatives, and the IPR.

    _Shootings and deaths in custody_

    Between 2000 and 2002, the National Lawyers Guild, NAACP, the Mayor's Work Group and the two ballot initiatives by the Police Accountability Campaign all called for Portland's civilian review board to have the power to review closed cases of police shootings and deaths in custody. The ordinance calls on the IPR to "receive _all_ citizen complaints regarding allegations of police misconduct" (p. ix). This implies that such cases would in fact be in the purview of the CRC.

    The review of shootings being conducted by the "experts" at the Police Assessment Resource Center (p. 8) is only focusing on incidents which occurred between 1997 and 2000. How will it serve the community to review the Kendra James shooting in 2005? The reviews of shootings and deaths in custody investigations should be done by the CRC and take place immediately upon the completion of the IAD (or IPR) investigation of the incident.

    [The chart implies that the IPR is reviewing shootings and deaths, but by farming out this review, they are taking these cases out of the hands of local citizens (City Code Section 3.21.070(J)). This does not satisfy the recommendations of the Majority Report.]

    _Standard of review_

    At an appeal hearing, according to the report, "the CRC decides whether the Bureau's findings were reasonable under the circumstances" (p. 63). While that would be a better gauge than the one in the current ordinance, City Code actually requires that a "reasonable person could make the finding in light of the evidence, whether or not the reviewing body agrees with the finding" (Section 3.21.020(R)).

    This means that the IAD can make any decision as long as a reasonable person could make that decision in light of the evidence--in other words, even if there is not enough evidence to make that decision, or even if the totality of the circumstances of the incident are not reasonable. We recommend that the CRC's standard for attaching proper findings to allegations be changed to a preponderance of the evidence, the standard that the Bureau uses to make its findings, and the standard that was used by PIIAC.

    _Mission statement/Policy Recommendations_

    The mission statement of the IPR in the report does not take its language from the ordinance. It talks about the IPR giving the Bureau suggestions for improvement, but refers to them as "well- researched recommendations" (p. 8). The ordinance only calls for such recommendations to be made by the Director and the CRC working together (Section 3.21.090(A)(3)). The Policy Work Group has yet to make a single recommendation in 18 months of existence. The CRC should be allowed to make policy recommendations based on common sense; in fact, PIIAC made numerous such recommendations, some of which were adopted by the Bureau without cumbersome research.

    The CRC's duties and powers also include "to participate in various community meetings to hear concerns about police services" (Section 3.21.090(A)(2)). The CRC has only held or scheduled four public forums to gather community concerns in the same 18 months.

    Furthermore, the very first item in the ordinance creating the IPR mentions the goal of restoring trust in government (Section 1.1); why is that not part of the mission statement?

    _Independent investigations_

    The IPR can conduct its own investigations of complaints (Section 3.21.120(D)), although this has still never happend. However, even if the IPR Director were to conduct an investigation, he would still need to rely on the Internal Affairs investigators to compel officer testimony. This is underscored in the report with the passively written statement, "The power to conduct independent investigations is present" (p. 153).

    In order to give true power for independent investigations, the IPR should be given authority under the "Garrity rule" to compel officer testimony as a condition of employment. The trade- off would be that the officers could not hide behind the Fifth Amendment, and the City could not prosecute the officers for any criminal activity discovered in the investigation. The only acts currently prosecuted criminally are off-duty behavior and incidents like stealing from the evidence room. In these cases, a criminal investigation was launched prior to an internal affairs interview with the officers anyway.

    [In the chart, it claims this power is "partially addressed" by "selective independent investigations." It also notes that City Council has subpoena power (Section 3.21.160(D)(3)), which was also true of PIIAC, but that does not address the possibility that an officer called under a subpoena could refuse to testify.]

    _Officer-initiated complaints_

    The report notes that the ordinance does not outline the IPR Director's ability to review officer- initiated complaints (p. 68), although some review is covered by a protocol (#5.02). The definition of a complaint is currently "a complaint by a citizen of alleged [Bureau] member misconduct" (Section 3.21.020 (G)). Not only should the ordinance allow review of officer-initiated complaints by the Director, but it should also allow full IPR investigation and appeals to the CRC as well.

    [_Final Say on Disposition_]

    The Auditor's chart of review board elements does not include one of the key elements that differentiates the IPR from PIIAC, and was recommended by the community: The power of final say on the disposition of cases. Although the ordinance is vaguely worded ("The Council shall decide what the finding is. The Director shall inform the complainant, member, IAD and the Chief of the Council's decision and close the complaint"--Section 3.21.060 (A)(2)(b)) this is an important power that has yet to be tested. Until case 02-17, the Bureau has ultimately agreed to accept all of the findings recommended by the CRC. In 2002, the Director created a "Conference Committee" meeting to allow the Bureau to try to change the CRC's vote prior to going to Council (Protocol 5.03.13). Since the ordinance calls for a case to go directly to Council when the Bureau rejects a CRC recommendation, the Director should eliminate the "Conference Committee."

    [_Dual intake_]

    The majority report asked for dual intake so people could decide whether to have their case investigated by the IAD or the review board. In the IPR model all cases are still given to IAD. But the chart claims that this concept was partially addressed by moving the intake from the PPB to the IPR. It would be interesting to include a checkbox on the IPR intake form to see if people would prefer an investigation by police IAD or by civilians at IPR--even if that was used simply for statistical purposes and not to launch independent investigations. [_Recommending discipline_]

    The IPR and Council are prohibited by the ordinance from imposing discipline (Section 3.21.200). Recommending discipline is not prohibited by the ordinance, and CRC should consider making recommendations in appropriate cases.


    Auditor Blackmer refers to the IPR system as an "open and orderly appeal process" (overleaf). However, the appeals can include up to four stages, only one of which guarantees the appellant the right to speak. (After the IPR ordinance was passed in June 2001, Director Richard Rosenthal added two layers to the originally simple two-step process [Section 3.21.060 (A)(1)&(2)]. The original stages were a civilian or officer appealing to the CRC and then to City Council if the Police Bureau disagreed with the CRC's recommended finding. Rosenthal added both a "pre-hearing" to screen out some of the cases [protocol 5.11], and the "Conference Committee" described above.) Many appellants appear to be confused about the process, and many leave the meetings frustrated.

    _Intake and Resolution of Allegations_

    The report refers to the IPR as a "neutral place to make complaints" (p. 10), despite the fact that it is housed on the third floor of City Hall and the intake investigators are former Portland Police officers who worked in Internal Affairs before retiring.

    The report highlights that these investigators try to resolve the complaint at intake--in other words, to try to prevent an investigation from happening. Do they do this to the extent of confusing people unfamiliar with the process, who then may accept a lesser resolution than they seek (such as a "service complaint")? The CRC's Policy Work Group is supposed to be reviewing all cases declined and passed off as service complaints, but hasn't done so in the 18 months of its existence.

    One example of how such resolutions are tilted toward police and away from civilian "customer satisfaction" is the current description of "service complaint" which was re-designed by Director Rosenthal in 2002: "If the IAD captain and the IPR director agree, a case may be handled as a service complaint, even over the objection of the complainant" (p. 11 and Protocol 5.08).

    The previous requirement to get a complainant to agree with a service complaint was in place "to ensure that the Police Bureau did not simply ignore complaints involving an arbitrary and capricious manner. With intake and classification done by the IPR, this requirement is no longer necessary" (p. 12). This presumes that the IPR's motivation is to resolve the individual complaint and work toward preventing future occurrences, which does not always seem to be the case.

    For example, when the complainant is notified of the "right to appeal any declination or non- sustained finding," (p. 11) they are not also sent the proper form to do so. They have to request the form, then fill that out and send it back, thus creating an extra hurdle. When Portland Copwatch recommended that the Director should send an appeal form out at the same time as the case disposition letter, he stated "I won't do that."

    In another example, the IPR says they automatically make a referral to another agency before talking to complainant (p. 34). While they may mean to be helpful, this ignores the possibility that the civilian was trying to get an objective outside review and may rather not have the local law enforcement agency aware of the complaint for fear of retaliation.

    Similarly, timeliness of closing out complaints and appeals to the CRC appears to be more important than satisfactory and thorough investigation. Many appeals since IPR's inception have been completed in 0-50 days (p. ii)--but many times because appeals were declined, something that didn't happen in the old system, PIIAC. Also, a number of cases were rushed through the appeal process and the CRC later regretted their decision. Timeliness in of itself is not a goal unless it is producing acceptable results. (To their credit, the IPR report acknowledges this as a problem on p. 89--"These types of timeliness goals can potentially create an incentive to treat serious complaints less thoroughly.")

    Some complaints are closed out because the IPR gives up on trying to contact the civilian. Part of the so-called "persistent problem of complainants who were unable or unwilling to respond to requests for further information" (p. 77) may be due to their not being able to call during business hours; it may also have to do with not wanting to talk to former police officers (in addition to the 2 intake investigators, the assistant director is also a former law enforcement agent).

    It is our experience that many people cannot make following through on complaints a high priority. Sometimes they are dealing with criminal charges (or violations), and/or they are busy just trying to survive. Thus, the new 7-day deadline for complainants to respond to IPR (p. 78) may work to get some people to respond more quickly, but may also be leaving a large chunk of the population out in the cold. Does the IPR encourage drop-ins? Are they willing to set up meetings outside of City Hall? The report does not say.

    _Outreach and Independence_

    In terms of outreach, the CRC has only held one meeting outside City Hall, and the June 19, 2003 public forum was scheduled in the uncomfortable Rose Room at City Hall. The IPR budget for 2002-03 was $589,005 (p. 161). While $62,559 is for rent and other City services, the IPR claims they can't afford to pay $100 for meeting rooms in the Portland Building for public hearings.

    Back to the question of independence: Portland Copwatch did at one time recommend that the Director of IPR be an attorney so they could challenge the City when the interests of the community came into conflict with the City's potential liability issues. The report states that Director Rosenthal passed the Oregon Bar "in order to give independent legal advice to the CRC" (p. 25). But since he is a city employee, his advice to date has been based on protecting the City from possible legal action (in other words, it has been identical to the City Attorney's advice). This is not independent.

    One other part of the ordinance not addressed in the report is the City Attorney's ability to keep "attorney-client privileged" information away from the IPR (section 3.21.070(H)). Since the IPR is empowered to review all closed investigations of misconduct, and since the ultimate goal of the IPR is to see that complaints are handled properly and thoroughly, in the interest of fostering independence the IPR should not be denied access to any Bureau documents.

    The report outlines process improvements but ignores a fundamental possibility: that the complaints may not be getting handled properly, thoroughly or fairly. Improvements cited in the report include explaining to complainants more about: the outcomes of the complaints; cases where no misconduct occurred; and the limitations of the process (p. 119). Maybe handling the complaints outside of the Police Bureau would be a better improvement. The feeling that the IPR was not independent of the Bureau was theme #3 in the "weaknesses" question of the feedback survey (p. 121).

    _Internal Affairs_

    The report refers to a reduction in IAD staff in the second half of 2002 (p. 79). Chief Kroeker boasted of his commitment to accountability by meeting the nationally recommended standard of one investigator per 100 sworn officers in late 2000--while the Mayor's Work Group was still meeting to look at improvements to the system. Why was this reduction made with no public comment? How many investigators are there now? The report doesn't say.

    One recommendation from the IPR is for Police Bureau management to hand-select IAD sergeants (p. 16), such a system could easily lead to corruption. Currently, officers are expected to volunteer for IAD, with one incentive being a step toward promotion. Why not call for a combination of volunteers and recommended sergeants, who all then have to go through the same rigorous review before being accepted to IAD?

    Also, the IPR's recommendation to have a sergeant do timeliness management has serious drawbacks (p. 88). Police are trained to deal with the public, investigate crimes, and other law enforcement functions. One cannot assume this will make them good managers. A less expensive and more realistic idea would be to add a non-sworn administrative assistant to track such timeliness. Of course, if all investigations were done in the IPR office, this would not even be an issue.


    The IPR decided that cases which are resolved through mediation (one-on-one sit-downs between complainants and police) would not go in the officer's record (p. 95 and Protocol 5.09). This may be imbalanced, since an officer who knows an investigation would find wrongdoing will use this as a reason to avoid a formal complaint. Plus, if they then deliberately sabotage the process, that particular complaint can't be turned into an investigation, which is a direct disadvantage to the civilian.

    It is also interesting to note that with the help of PPB Planning and Support, the IPR was able to make a video about its processes and the mediation program (p. 104), but has yet to make a video on a civilian's rights when stopped by the police. Such a video has been recommended by the Mayor after Portland Copwatch public comment several years ago.

    _The CRC and Its Work Groups_

    The relationship between the IPR and the CRC is not clear in the ordinance. Regardless of the Auditor's intent, the IPR staff should be mandated to assist the CRC, as a Citizen Advisory Board, to carry out activities and recommendations they have voted on within the scope of the ordinance, even if the IPR staff disagrees with those decisions.

    The CRC Work Groups are covered briefly in the report (pp. 1-4). One thing the CRC should do which is allowed by the ordinance (Section 3.21.090(A)(8)) is to create other committees and involve other citizens in the IPR process.


    _General comments_

    --Use of force cases

    Under Chief Moose, Bureau policy was to investigate all use of force cases. According to the report, 12 use of force allegations were declined because of an "unavailable complainant" and nine for "filing delay" (p. 43). How does it serve the community to dismiss these most serious of allegations?

    --Disparate Treatment (p. 12):

    It is good to see that the IPR is holding IAD more accountable by not allowing them to recategorize disparate treatment allegations as "conduct" allegations. While it is logical to look for specific evidence of racial profiling (such as use of ethnic slurs), it would be good to encourage investigators to ask officers and themselves whether the police would have treated a straight, white, middle-aged, Christian, able-bodied, psychologically healthy male in the same way they treated the person who alleged disparate treatment.

    --Sustained findings

    The Bureau changed three findings changed to "Sustained" at the request of CRC. Two were for courtesy and one was an erratic driving case (p. 18). The more serious allegations of disparate treatment and excessive force have never been sustained as a result of IPR/CRC intervention (at least not publicly). (In fact, the CRC never challenged a use of force allegation in its first year according to the chart on p. 66.)

    Chief Kroeker referred to "34 sustained complaints" at the council informal. Is it possible he was reading the number of cases with assigned findings (34) and ignoring the sustained cases (5) (p. 53)? (There were also apparently 10 Bureau-initiated allegations sustained in 2002, but 30 in 2001- -p. 69.)

    We have regularly noted that Sustain rates on their own are not as important as combined decline, insufficient evidence and sustain rates. High decline rates (38 %!!-p. 51) as well as low insufficient evidence rates (23%, as opposed to 33% unfounded and 38% exonerated--based on 82 closed allegations detailed on p. 53/54) show that the officers' side of the story seems to be believed more often than citizens'.

    As with the "Sustained" findings from CRC, there are no "Sustained" findings of excessive force or disparate treatment by the Bureau (p. 54). The five allegations listed as "Sustained" in the report are: Failure to release property, Did not provide identification, and three profanity allegations. Does this mean Portland Police never use more force than is necessary to effect an arrest--or does it show an inherent flaw in a system in which police investigate other police, and the Division in charge of overseeing those reviews has an avowed interest in "establish[ing] strong constructive relationships" with the Bureau (p. 7)?

    --CRC challenged findings (p. 67)

    Of the fourteen Bureau findings the CRC challenged and recommended to change to something other than "Sustained" and "service complaint," the CRC voted to merely add a debriefing (3 allegations), make the finding _less_ serious (3 allegations), or exonerate the officers (2 cases) more than half the time (8 of 14, or 57%). By "less serious," we mean findings were changed to "Unfounded," meaning the action never happened the way it was described, from "Exonerated," which meant the officer did the action but it was within policy. This was probably not the relief sought by the citizens who appealed these cases.

    The other 6 changes were from "Exonerated" (4 cases), "Unfounded" (1 case) or "Declined" (1 case) to "Insufficient Evidence," meaning that perhaps the incident happened as alleged, but there is not enough evidence to prove or disprove it. This finding needs more emphasis at IAD and CRC, and should be better explained to appellants so they realize this is actually a finding which works at least partially in their favor. The CRC voted to add debriefings in two of these cases as well.

    --Definitions of findings (p. 48):

    The definitions of "Unfounded" and "Exonerated" are confusing and often assigned incorrectly either by IAD/IPR or the CRC. "Exonerated" should mean the officer acted within guidelines/policy, but sometimes an allegation of "Retaliation" comes back as "exonerated," implying the officer did retaliate but was allowed to under Bureau guidelines. We recommend looking to the San Diego County definitions to clarify.

    In Portland, "Exonerated" is defined when "The actions of the police officer were within the guidelines of police bureau policy." San Diego is more clear: "The evidence shows that the act or conduct did occur but was lawful, justified and proper." This exact wording is troubling, so we would recommend: "Exonerated: The evidence shows that the act or conduct did occur but was within the guidelines of Police Bureau policy."

    In Portland, "Unfounded" is defined as "the available facts do not support the allegation." This could mean any number of things. San Diego County's definition is again more clear, and we recommend the IPR and the Bureau adopt this language: "Unfounded: The evidence shows that the alleged act or conduct did not occur."

    We also strongly recommend that the IPR and the Bureau include the following three findings used by the San Francisco OCC:
    Policy Failure: The act was justified by policy, procedure, or regulation, but the board recommends a change.
    Supervision Failure: The action was the result of inadequate supervision when viewed in light of applicable law, training, and policy and procedure.
    Training Failure: The action was the result of inappropriate or inadequate training, or an absence of training when viewed in light of policy and procedure.


    Portland Copwatch strongly encourages the CRC to initiate a review of the 199 allegations declined by the IPR, of which 40, or 20 percent, were labelled "false or trivial" (p. 43). Such a judgment seems very subjective and should be used only in extreme circumstances where no other category suffices.

    _Specific cases_

    --In case #2002-x-0021, the Mejia beating case, the IPR Director informed the CRC that one reason for rejecting the appeal was a lack of standing for the appellant (p. 142). This is not supported by the ordinance Section 3.21.140 (A), that allows "any" complainant to file an appeal. The report adds that the appeal was rejected "due to the thoroughness of the investigation," which is not a criterion under the previous or current CRC protocol (#5.05).

    --The example of a case with an IPR request for further investigation shows bias (p. 57). In this case, the IPR Director consulted with the DA, the Chief and the City Attorney, all of whom have an interest in broader police powers, to determine the legality of a backpack search, not these heavily weighted phone calls. Was a defense attorney consulted as to whether probable cause existed? Or a judge? Why wasn't this case referred to a court of law, as other cases which are not within the IPR's jurisdiction? If this is how investigations are done, this shows the potential problems caused by the conflict of interest inherent in the IPR system and the Director's personal background as an Assistant District Attorney.

    --In the off-duty beating case, the report states that "Discipline [will] be imposed on the officers who had committed misconduct" (p. 19). How does this satisfy the community's desire for just outcomes? It would be better to state specifics about the outcome of high-profile cases, such as: findings included failure to file a report, destruction of evidence, etc. and discipine included transfers, demotions or letters of reprimand.

    --In the "service complaint" example in which an officer allegedly "threw" the complainant's license, registration, and insurance at him, the behavior of the complainant is mentioned, even though it is irrelevant (p. 50). While the citizen "admitted" being rude to the officer, there is no directive allowing an officer to be rude to a citizen because the citizen is acting out. In fact, the directive on retaliation would seem to prohibit such behavior.

    Furthermore, when a citizen says they "just" want the officer spoken to by a supervisor, that doesn't preclude an investigation being initiated so that a finding can be assigned to what appears to be a violation of Bureau policy.

    --It is good to see that the Director asked for further action on 8 allegations the Bureau would have otherwise declined (p 55). It is unfortunate that in the one case the IAD refused to investigate, the IPR director did not initiate an independent investigation as is provided for in the ordinance. Instead, he left it up to the complainant to take further action (p. 59). It is our experience that most civilians filing complaints do not understand the system or most of the options presented to them. It is up to IPR staff to do what they think is right based on the initial complaint. If the Director feels strongly enough to change a "decline" to a full investigation, an incident should receive an investigation.

    This is also true in the case of the service complaint that the Director requested be handled as a full investigation and let drop when the civilian "chose not to file an appeal" (p. 59). The subjects in both cases filed a complaint because they believed police had committed an act of misconduct. If a bureaucratic decision to decline is overturned, the complainants should not need to be recontacted to allow the investigation to move forward.

    --Two mediation cases were closed out as "Complainant declined," and two others as "resolved." These represent half of the cases set for mediation that were never mediated (p. 99). Why were these cases closed? And how were they "Resolved"? The IPR has other options than to close a proposed mediation, including "possible...referral to Internal Affairs" (p. 97). Why is the IPR threatening to close the cases altogether in their letters now, as opposed to offering to open up an investigation if the complainant does not respond?


    _Satisfaction with the process_

    The concept that the IPR has resolved issues of trust and improved community-police relations is undercut by the survey response summary in the report (p. 107). "Even though there was an increase in satisfaction with the complaint _process_ [up from 18.7 in 2001 to 25.8% in 2002-- with nearly 3/4 of all people neutral or dissatisfied], there was no statistically significant change in satisfaction with either the fairness of the complaint outcomes [actually down from 18.6 to 15.9%] or with perceptions that the City of Portland is working to prevent police misconduct [although _dissatisfaction_ grew from 62.9% to 69.2%]."

    It's important to note that the satisfaction with the entire process including the appeals was not included as a separate statistic in this report. In theory, the ability for the public to at least feel that their complaint has been heard by a panel of their peers should help increase their satisfaction with the system. If it does not increase, the reasons for their dissatisfaction should be sought out.

    _Use of force_

    It would be very helpful to gather all the "force" and other subcategories together for statistical review.

    By keeping excessive force complaints separated by whether a weapon was involved, they become the second most investigated complaint type after "Rude behavior" (p. 52). But it seems that "Excessive force" would be the #1 most investigated complaint if they were added back together.

    In the chart of "most common allegations" (p. 40) we see: 66 force with hands, feet, knees; 12 force with batons; 12 pepper spray (what category is this, if not force?); 4 bean bags; 4 tasers; 3 rubber bullets; 3 vehicle, 2 flashlights, and one horse (!). This is a total of 107 allegations, while chart of all allegations (p. 39) says that there were 169 use of force complaints. What were the other 62 allegations?

    (We understand it is possible there were only single allegations about the other cases, including the total of 371 cases not represented on the "most common" chart, but there are two categories on the chart which only had one complaint each, so we wonder what the criteria were for being "most common.")

    _Use of Detox_

    It is important to note that there were 11 complaints regarding inappropriate use of Detox (p. 40). At least three of these were appealed to the CRC. While the CRC is considering recommendations on the Bureau's Detox policy, Portland Copwatch would like to note that their research has not included specifics on five cases in which Detox acknowledged they released individuals who were brought in but not intoxicated, nor has there been a focus on whether Detox is being used for retaliation when citizens flunk the "attitude test" with officers.


    According to charts in the report, 24% of all cases, or 114 cases, were declined by IPR with no full investigation and thus no ability to appeal to the CRC (p. 41). A further 84 cases, or 30% of those referred to IAD, were declined as well (p. 49), totalling 198 of 513 cases, or 38.5% of all complaints. This tremendous 38% total is backed up on p. 51 with the allegation summary chart. It is alarming that nearly two of every five cases do not get past the initial intake stage.

    _Service Complaints and Thoroughness of Handling Complaints_

    By including in the feedback survey so many people who had their cases closed as "service complaints" (26 of 96 or 27%--pp 147-148), the input of those with more serious allegations may have slipped through the cracks (acknowledged by the report on pp. 110-111). Furthermore, the statistical breakdown notes that only 38% of those whose allegations were handled as service complaints were satisfied with the outcome anyway (p. 117). Zero percent of those who had their cases declined were satisfied.

    On p. 148 it shows that at maximum, 52% of complainants were satisfied that the complaint was looked at thoroughly--and those were the people whose cases were handled as service complaints (p. 148). Only 18.2% of those whose cases were declined and 25.7% of other complainants felt the IPR was thorough (also p. 148), averaging 30.1% overall (p. 115).


    While the report indicates that discipline imposed ranged "from command counseling to 20 hours off (two days) without pay" (p. iii), there is no chart indicating what kinds of discipline were imposed for which kinds of misconduct. We understand that officers' employment histories are protected as confidential, but we do not believe such a chart would violate privacy. A chart of the kinds of discipline imposed should appear in the next IPR report.

    _Final note on feedback_

    The Mayor's Work Group unanimously supported the idea of feedback on the civilian oversight process. Only 29% of complainants returned their survey forms to the IPR (p. 110). It may actually increase the response to include the survey with the IAD letter, and hand appellants survey forms at the CRC hearings. But it seems like the IPR is not as interested in public input as their mission proclaims.

    This pattern extends beyond these surveys. The IPR sends out public notifications of many CRC meetings and events with the minimum public notification necessary. IPR public events should be announced with the maximum lead time possible. The Auditor refused to put the annual report on the regular Council agenda to allow for public input. IPR quarterly and annual reports should be brought to Council for public input and CRC participation.

    If the IPR wishes to fulfill its mission, it has to encourage public dialogue.


    Overall, while the report offers detailed insight into the way the IPR functions, it does not explore the fundamental question of whether this system is satisfying the needs of the community, and in what ways, other than timeliness, it has acted to improve upon the previous police oversight model, PIIAC.

    Portland Copwatch
    a project of Peace and Justice Works
    PO Box 42456
    Portland, OR 97242
    (503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120

    Copwatch home page

    Peace and Justice Works home page

    Posted June 19, 2003