Portland Copwatch Analyzes "Independent" Police Review Division 2014 Annual Report

Table of contents
Still Little Focus on Force, Race
Details Show Lack of Interest in Accountability
More Missing Information
Other Trends, Positive and Neagative-- But Mostly Negative

Portland Copwatch
  a project of Peace and Justice Works
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  Portland, OR 97242
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  e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Details Provided Show Disinterest in Accountability
by Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch, November 16, 2015

Trumping its record late date last year, the Independent Police Review Division (IPR) released its 2014 annual report ( http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/index.cfm?c=27727&a=552654) on November 12. Despite admonition from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to release the report as early as possible,*-1 this is the latest any such report has come out (not counting 2005-2006 when no reports were released). Making matters worse, the long wait has led to a shorter, more confusing, and less informative report. IPR opens their report noting that the City's Settlement Agreement with the DOJ went into effect in August 2014, but only mentions the requirement to speed up the investigations process to meet a 180 day deadline, not that the focus of the Settlement is reducing use of force, particularly against people in mental health crisis. There are quite a few interesting case summaries, yet only one involves findings that were "Sustained" against an officer, despite IPR bragging that the highest percentage of cases had such findings. While this is true, the published "sustain rate" continues to be inflated; IPR says 66% of cases had Sustained findings, but in fact only 5.3% of all allegations made were "Sustained." Only one Racial Profiling complaint was investigated, and it was found "in policy." Unlike the 2013 report, which sprinkled examples for the many kinds of cases IPR handles or reviews throughout, the new 28 summaries, which represent about 7% of this year's 379 complaints, are all bundled together at the end. The case summaries that are included show how accountability still does not seem to be a high priority in Portland.

Brevity was chosen over clarity, removing various explanations about how the process works, and adding newspaper-article-type headlines rather than subject matter identifiers. Specific tables clarifying numerical data and showing trends over several years were removed entirely and posted separately rather than being at least included in an appendix.*-2 So while Portland Copwatch (PCW) has needed to do significant work in the past filling in gaps left by IPR's reports, creating a full picture this year took almost as long as if we had written the IPR's report ourselves.

Because the statistics were separated out, the tables we reference below are all "disembodied" in the sense that one has to look outside the annual report to get the information.


As with previous years, the IPR's report barely touches on issues of race and use of force, even though they are among the community's biggest concerns. Use of deadly force and discipline are also noted, but not deeply analyzed.

--Use of Force: Record High "Sustain" Rate Barely Budges the Needle; Trends Not Noted

In addition to the generally higher reported rate of "Sustained" findings (more below), the statistics given in Table 13 show that four Force allegations were Sustained in 2014, the largest number since IPR's first full year functioning in 2002. However, this brings the overall number of Force complaints sustained in those 13 years to 14, or just 0.84% of the 1659 Force allegations levelled against the Bureau in that time. Sure, that's higher than last year's 0.62%, but just barely.

Despite the DOJ Agreement's focus on force, there is no longer a graphic in the report showing trends in Force complaints. A chart on page 4 lets us know there were 58 allegations of Force, which the text states is 7% of all allegations. Based on statistics in earlier reports, PCW can state that this is the lowest number of Force allegations on IPR record, just below the 62 reported in 2010. However, Force is still listed among the top 5 most common allegations in Table 4, appearing in 35 complaints.

Since the Bureau is trying to prove its compliance with the DOJ by pointing to downward trends in (reported) use of force, the people of Portland would benefit to have the full statistics listed and then analyzed against force data. Though our "Independent" oversight agency seems uninterested in this analysis, here is what we found: In 2010, complaints were made in 4% of 1507 Force incidents; in 2011-2012 it was about 9% of 1265/1140; in 2013 it was 8% of 948, and last year it was 8% of 802. So for what it's worth, complaints as a percentage of overall use of force seems to be going back down, though as with the general decline in complaints, it's hard to know if that is because people don't believe they will get justice by using the system.

Another item of concern is that under the DOJ Agreement, the City is mandated to investigate all Use of Force allegations; while 58 came in last year, only 17 are shown as having a final disposition attached to them.

--Deadly Force Investigations Barely Mentioned Again

The IPR's involvement in review of Deadly Force cases has increased since 2010, when they began going out to the scenes of Officer Involved Shootings (OIS) and In-Custody Deaths (ICD). Yet the community still receives scant information about these most serious incidents. The twice-annual reports from the Police Review Board (PRB) skim over the details of the cases and inevitably end with all officers being found within policy for attempting or succeeding in taking the life of a community member. Annual reviews of closed Deadly Force cases are called for in the IPR ordinance and since 2010 have been provided by the OIR Group from California. The Report does not mention either the OIR Group's 2014 analysis or that this review is IPR's responsibility.*-3

As we've noted before, the IPR Director's monthly reports include the names of shooting victims, police officers, and the status of the cases (under investigation, scheduled for PRB hearing, etc). While it's admirable to try to save paper and not be redundant, most people will not know to look for the Director's reports to get such information.*-4 The report notes that four officer involved shootings left two people dead, but doesn't give the names of Kelly Swoboda or Nick Davis who died. It shows the trend of police shootings/deaths in custody averaging about five per year, but there is no analysis that many of the subjects of deadly force were in mental health crisis.

The report does contain a special section on the Police Review Board, with some information that is new, but makes overly broad representations (see below) and only barely mentions the Board's role in Deadly Force cases. A new table on the PRB, Table 16, does indicate that the two shootings reviewed by the PRB were found "in policy" (more on this below). Because, as the Report notes, appeals of deadly force cases "do not go before the [Citizen Review] Committee,"*-5 and the PRB hearings are closed to the public (and the press, and the person subjected to the alleged misconduct), more information would be better.

We will repeat once more that the IPR ordinance does not prohibit IPR investigations (or Citizen Review Committee [CRC] appeals) on deadly force cases.

--In the Post-Ferguson Era, Still No Racial Profiling Allegations Proven

Since IPR was created in 2001, there have been 850 allegations of "Disparate Treatment," or racial profiling, leveled by community members.*-6 Only one such allegation has ever been sustained, in 2001; Table 13 confirms only one allegation (of 27 levied in 2014) was fully investigated-- and found "Exonerated" (within policy). This gives the Bureau a "sustain rate" of 0.12% in this category. Considering the heightened awareness of police and race relations in the country that is acknowledged (somewhat awkwardly) in the first paragraph of the report, it is astounding that this statistic is holding firm. Yes, Michael Brown was killed by police on August 9, 2014 and most cases take over 9 months to come to a conclusion, but it still seems even those in the pipeline late last year might have ended in findings favorable to the community member complaining.

Even more troubling, a video was posted in late 2013 showing a PPB officer using the "N" word.*-7 The usual reason for lack of action is that it's hard to prove the officer did or said something that was racist. In a clear-cut case like this, no reprimand implies the Bureau still has a race problem.

Racial profiling was the #3 reason for "Service Improvement Opportunities" (Non-Disciplinary Complaints) (and the #4 overall allegation) in 2009, but has since fallen off the radar (Tables 8 and 4).

To their credit, IPR does note that African Americans "filed 19% of the complaints but make up only 6% of Portland's population." All of this par for the course in a city where African Americans are the subject of 29% of police use of force and 25% of shootings/deaths cases. It will be interesting to see if the numbers go down once all line officers receive the institutional racism training that was given to all Sergeants and above.

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--No Connection Between Discipline Imposed and Behavior

While IPR continues to publish statistics on officer discipline (chart on p. 7), they still do not make any effort to connect what kinds of misconduct lead to what level of discipline. Dogged community members who pull data from Police Review Board reports could come up with a partial analysis, but IPR is uniquely positioned to share this information with the community. Last year, no officers were fired (but two were in 2013), and 7 resigned before the discipline could be imposed. 10 officers were suspended without pay but 24 received lesser tongue- lashings. IPR's headline for the section on corrective action reads "One in four officers disciplined lost pay for misconduct," which is kind of an odd takeaway from the statistics. When we look back at the last 8 years, we see that 14 officers were suspended in 2008 and 2010. Perhaps IPR should include the proposed discipline (which, often, is termination) for the officers who resigned.*-8 Part of the improvements to PRB reports made in January 2014 was the inclusion of when the Chief deviates from the Bureau's Discipline Guide. Since the PRB reports are merely stacks of individual memos stapled together, IPR could make a chart that pulls together information on how often that happens as well.

--Case Summaries: File under W (for What the Heck?)

As noted above, the 28 case summaries in the report, only one deals with an officer who was found out of policy-- an IPR investigation about an officer who failed to file a report about a minor-on-minor sexual crime. Because more details on this case were printed in the PRB report in July, 2015, we know that the complaint included four allegations that were sustained,*-9 yet the IPR report only states that because of failure to document the incident, the Bureau sustained "the allegation against the officer" (singular). The PRB report also shows that the officer was given 40 hours suspension without pay, something IPR doesn't report.

Another example, this time of a "Service Improvement Opportunity" (SIO), included the allegation that when an officer stopped a client of an Old Town social service agency for jaywalking, he was asked to give information about an employee of the agency. The man alleged that when he refused to answer, the officer proceed to give him a ticket. IPR reports that they could not find documentation of a police response, but had the Sergeant go to the agency to make amends. The narrative shows no interest whatsoever in the seriousness of the alleged coercive behavior by the officer.

Another SIO summary reports that a man was stopped in his car, accused of making an illegal lane change and was told he had no insurance by an officer who refused to give his name. However, the officer would not allow the man to look at the computer record, which he soon disproved by providing his insurance paperwork. The IPR reports that the officer's supervisor counseled him to give his name when asked, but said nothing about the seemingly false accusations the officer made and lack of courtesy to let the man see his own computer record.

One of the dismissals includes a homeless (houseless) woman who said an officer didn't give her enough time to move her belongings (the IPR says the officer was on the scene for 30 minutes, but doesn't say how much stuff there was), said the officer was rude, sarcastic and cocky, but didn't give specific examples. IPR decided to let the case play out in court-- because the officer cited her. IPR also opined that being cocky was "insufficient to sustain a disciplinary action under Police Bureau policy," even though professionalism is required by the Directives.*-10

In the "referrals" section, IPR notes that they dismissed but referred to a precinct commander a complaint that an officer was driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Their investigation showed data from the cop's car proved the allegation was true, so one wonders, why was the complaint dismissed and not Sustained?

Examples were not included this year for Internal Affairs (IA) investigations or declinations, mediations (see below), nor for cases "controverted" by IPR (when they disagree with the proposed finding and send the case to the PRB). In fact, that power of IPR is not even mentioned in the report.

Like the narratives, the headlines on the summaries seem focused on the police perspective rather than the misconduct alleged, such as:
"Lieutenant counsels officer after professionalism complaint"
"Evidence supports officer's description of incident"
"Video playback supports officer"
"Investigation stalls for lack of evidence."

--Presentation of Data, Particularly the "Sustain Rate," Continues to Mislead the Public

Every year, IPR reports on the percentage of cases that were investigated which ended up with one or more Sustained findings, and every year Portland Copwatch points out that doing so gives community members the false hope that they have a far higher chance at a satisfactory resolution than exists. As noted above, IPR states in its narrative (p. 5) and a related chart (on p. 7) that 66% of investigated cases ended with at least one allegation "Sustained." But looking at Table 12, this simply means that in 19 of 29 cases that were investigated, there was at least one such finding. But since there were a total of 379 complaints, that means only 5% of all cases that came through the door had one or more Sustained findings. Furthermore, drilling down to the allegation level (Table 13), only 42 of 789 allegations, or 5.3%, were sustained.*-11 While indeed this is higher than previous years ' "sustain rates" of 1.2-2.9% of allegations (and as many as 4% of cases with Sustained findings), it still means you have at best a one in twenty chance to have your complaint affirmed, not a two in three chance as IPR implies.

Similarly, the new data on the PRB's recommended findings comes under the headline "88% of cases heard by the Police Review Board were sustained"-- meaning cases had at least one "Sustained" finding. We don't have the resources to double check the details on how many _allegations_ were sustained in 2014 (most PRB cases involve more than one allegation), but the rate is probably lower. Adding together all allegations in the July 2014 and January 2015 PRB reports shows 68 total allegations with 42 Sustained, a rate of 62%. So, why is the PRB's "sustain rate" so high? Because the reason most cases go to the PRB is that they have one or more "Sustained" findings in the first place, and PRB is meant to affirm those findings and recommend discipline.

Table 16 on the PRB gives at least a more clear picture of what happened to the 32 cases, which does not look great for civilians subjected to misconduct:
2 officer involved shootings were found in policy (as noted above);
2 Community complaints were not sustained;
12 Community complaints had at least one Sustained finding; and
16 Bureau complaints had at least one Sustained finding.
So, the 12 percent without sustained allegations all involved community members and half were deadly force incidents.

We also continue to wonder why findings of "he said/she said," known until late in 2014 as "Unproven"*-12, are not used more regularly since much of the time IPR indicates it is too hard to prove what did or did not happen. "Unproven" was used in 18% of findings this year (down from 26%, but higher than 2012's 9%), while 40% of the time officers were found "Exonerated" (down from 50% but still used twice as often as "Unproven"). As with last year, Force complaints had a much lower use of "Unproven" (2 of 17, or 12%) than other categories.

More generally, IPR admits to dismissing 75% of all complaints that came in the door (heading: "IPR investigates more cases, but dismisses three out of four complaints overall"), but doesn't include cases declined for investigation by Internal Affairs. That figure is shown as a percentage of IA decisions in a graphic on p. 7, with no raw number attached, even though IPR reports it dismissed 268 of the 358 cases they processed. Using Table 10, we see that IA declined to investigate a staggering 30 cases (which IPR must approve to be sent to IA and again before they can be dropped), meaning the total is 298 dismissals or 83% of all processed cases. IA investigated 26 cases, and, flexing its new powers, IPR investigated 7, but this means that of 379 cases that came in the door only 33, or 8.7% of cases were investigated. This means you only have a 1 in 11 chance of having your case thoroughly considered, not a 1 in 4 chance as implied by the 75% dismissal rate and 23% investigations rate by IA reported by IPR. (The remaining cases were handled as SIOS.)

--DOJ Agreement Mandates Not Clearly Addressed

The report opens with a statement about the DOJ Agreement requiring all investigations to take place within 180 days. It then talks about the IPR opening up nine "independent" investigations, "the highest number... since the inception of IPR in 2001." First of all, the DOJ requires IPR to have the ability to conduct "meaningful" independent investigations, and as we noted in our analysis last year, City Council gave IPR some more authority but not the ability to compel officers to testify. So IPR remains dependent on the Bureau's Internal Affairs officers to compel other Bureau employees to answer questions. Secondly, any number of investigations is "the highest number" as there were zero investigations done by IPR until 2013, but that first investigation was not listed in the 2013 annual report.*-13 Thirdly, most of those investigations were initiated in the last four months of 2014, based on protests related to "what [people] perceived as racially biased police shootings" (p. 1). One of those cases that came before the CRC on appeal in November 2015 showed that IPR changed the complainant's charges against the police, failed to identify the appropriate Directives that had been violated, and signed off on the tortured logic of Traffic Division Captain Kelli Sheffer, who claimed no use of force was used against a female protestor even though the officer admitted pushing her arm when he was not approaching her regarding criminal conduct on her part. So while the community finally has non-police conducting investigations, the outcomes don't seem to be any more independent or promising.

As to the 180 day timeline, the report, in its only true self-reflective statement, notes that the investigations are taking an average of 278 days to complete, with IPR's initial intake lasting 36 days instead of the benchmark of 21 ("More progress needed to meet settlement agreement standard," p. 2). They also note this is a "worsening trend" as IPR's part of the investigations only took 33 days in 2013. They noted that commanders reviewing investigations in order to attach findings also took too long, but didn't give the numbers. The (non-)accompanying Table 20 shows that "command review of investigations" went up from 12 to 17.5 days on average.

That Table is slightly improved from the past few years, now breaking down the overall timelines for the various possible outcomes (IPR dismissals, IA declines, full investigations and SIOs). But a few parts of the process are not represented, including the time that the Chief takes to finalize a finding, which may involve a "mitigation" hearing where an officer can ask for relief. Another important missing step is CRC appeals, which the DOJ unrealistically expects to happen in 21 days, but usually do (and should) take 60- 90 days.*-14 Since that 21 day goal is a specific benchmark required by the Agreement, it is odd that IPR doesn't address it anywhere in the report or the separate tables.

We also noted before that: (a) in 2011 the table stopped including the desired timelines, which would give a greater context to the numbers; and (b) the order of the investigation should be changed so that SIOs and declines, which happen quickly, go before the assignment of "non-declined" / investigated cases.

The table also reveals the buried good news is that IA investigations are now taking only 55 days, down from 119 days in 2008 and bringing the average over 7 years down from 12 weeks to 11. The bad news is that because of how the table is laid out, a brief glance makes it seem that the Bureau is meeting the 180 day goal, as their part of the investigations are taking 157 days, literally listed on the bottom line, but the actual 278 day number is 4th of 5 figures listed on the top of the chart.

We still believe that a flowchart showing all the steps of a complaint and investigation would clarify the "Byzantine" system, and make the segments described in the timeliness and other parts of the report more clear.

--Where DO Complaints Come From? Are Police Complaints Taken More Seriously?

The report notes that 76% of the complaints are levied against officers from Portland's three precincts, with the second largest chunk from the Traffic Division (9%). However, there's also a note that only four complaints stemmed from "large event/multiple precincts," when the IPR opened six "independent" investigations based on protests around Ferguson.*- 15

Meanwhile, nearly as many officers' complaints (28) were investigated as civilians' (29), which is more striking when you consider officers only made 53 sets of allegations (so, 53% investigated to completion) while civilians made 379 (8% investigated to completion). The report notes that 86% of the 28 Bureau cases had at least one Sustained finding. It says that "almost 70%" of the 56 allegations in those cases were sustained, but Table 15 shows us that it is actually 38 of the 56, or 68% of investigated allegations. Still, this is phenomenally higher than the comparable 42% of civilian allegations upheld. Furthermore, a higher percentage of allegations are found "Unproven" (20%) than Exonerated (13%) when looking at Bureau-only complaints, reversing how community members' non-sustained findings tally up.

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--Citizen Review Committee Appeals and Activities Mis- and Under-Reported

The CRC, the community's main window into the inner workings of the accountability system, did, as noted in the report, hear four appeals in 2014. However, when it reports that the CRC "challenged commanders' decisions in three cases [and] the Chief accepted the Committee's recommendations," it is inaccurate. In case 2014-X-0002, involving a homeless man who was pepper-sprayed by an officer, the Chief refused to accept the CRC's 6-1 vote asking to "Sustain" the Force complaint against Officer Todd Engstrom. In an unprecedented move, Chief Mike Reese came to the CRC's "Conference Committee" meeting to reconcile his disagreement with them, towing along Engstrom and convincing them to accept an "Unproven with a Debriefing" finding.

Perhaps this overt discrepancy would have been caught if IPR had, as they have done in most annual reports, included summaries of the CRC hearings. Because they did not, PCW includes this very brief summation of the three cases other than the one described above:

Case 2013-x-0004: Sgt. Simms appealed the "Unproven" finding on whether he expressed "road rage" toward a man at the gym. Though there was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation (thus, "Unproven"-- which could also mean the incident did not happen as described), Simms convinced CRC to change the finding to "Exonerated," which technically means he did what was alleged but was within policy. The vote was 6-0.

Case 2013-x-0005: A community member felt officers put his handcuffs on too tight, made a derogatory remark about it ("they're not supposed to be comfortable"), and failed to read his Miranda rights before asking him questions. CRC voted to change the allegation about courtesy (the remark) from "Exonerated" to "Unproven" (4-3), and to "Sustain" the Miranda warning allegation in a unanimous 7-0 vote. Officer Jeffrey Cioeta admitted he didn't know whether rights were read before he asked about a stolen cell phone. CRC affirmed four other Bureau findings.

Case 2014-x-0001: A community member felt her son was subjected to excessive force when he was hobbled (hands and wrists bound to each other) and punched by officers. CRC affirmed the Bureau's findings of "Exonerated" on the hobble (8-0) and "Unproven" on the punch (7-1).

There, now was that so difficult?

Furthermore, one gets the impression that CRC challenged _all_ of the commanders' findings in three of the four appeals, but in reality there were 11 allegations total and CRC proposed four changes, one of which lessened the implications of the initial finding.

The report also states that CRC hears appeals of cases "initiated by a community member," though new rules adopted in 2010 permit civilians to appeal cases if they were initiated by the Bureau or the IPR as well.*-16

The only other mention of the CRC is that IPR's Outreach Coordinator helped bring in 30 people to apply for seats on the Committee, resulting in "the most diverse membership in its existence." While this is true, the 2013 report stated that 53 people applied to be on CRC that year. (There is no mention this year about the membership of the Police Review Board, which had 26 people apply for its rotating pool in 2013; since the PRB doesn't regularly report on its membership or recruiting, it seems IPR should take on that role.)

There is also no mention anywhere in the report that if CRC and the Bureau fail to come to an agreement, City Council has the final say on what the findings will be. However, they state in their overview ("Several entities have roles in Portland's police oversight system") that the elected officials involved are the Mayor/Police Commissioner and the Auditor, thus actively ignoring the full Council's role.

Another glaring omission is the CRC's Work Groups, which included a Crowd Control Work Group whose recommendations were adopted by the entire CRC in December 2014.*-17

Finally, in addition to appealing investigated complaints, community members are allowed to "protest" when IPR dismisses a case. As with the 2013 report, no figure is given for these "requests for reconsideration," even though they numbered 49 total between 2010 and 2012.

--Portland Copwatch Presents: Top Allegations 2010-2014

Once again, PCW has created its own chart of the most frequent allegations over the course of five years, constructed from data for all 13 years since IPR was created. IPR's report only uses broader categories (p. 4), showing Procedure as the #1 category of allegation (289) followed by Courtesy (215), Conduct (186), Force (58), Disparate Treatment (27) and Control Technique (14). Separate Table 4 reflects a more detailed and interesting picture.

Rudeness jumped back up from the #2 most frequent allegation to #1; last year there were only three fewer allegations than in the previous year--86, not 89. Now Rudeness is #1 for the 12th of 13 years with just 77 allegations. Failure to Act fell to the #2 position, with over 25% fewer allegations (72 not 100). Inadequate Investigation squeaked ahead of Force this year by 8 complaints (43 vs. 35) to be #3; last year the two were tied at 41 allegations each. A new category, which way back in the early days was called "Demeaning Language," is now called "Demeaning/Defaming Conduct" and fills out the top 5 with 30 allegations.

Because Racial Profiling, aka Disparate Treatment, was the subject of only 27 allegations in 2014, it did not make the list and has fallen off of our chart, as it last broke the top 5 at #4 in 2009. We would still like to see IPR publish a more comprehensive list to give a greater view of why people are complaining.

[Chart of top
allegations 2010-2014 image]

("Inadequate Communication" new in 2011- includes older categories such as "fail to provide info";
"Investigation-Inadequate/Improper" and "Arrest/Cite-Unjustified/Improper" new in 2013;
"Demeaning/Defaming Conduct, formerly known as Demeaning Language, new in 2014)

The report similarly talks about broader categories for internal Bureau complaints-- noting that 57% involved Procedure and 41% involved conduct. Table 24 adds that the numbers were 49 Procedure allegations and 35 Conduct, with one allegation each of Courtesy and Disparate Treatment (which doesn't show a final disposition in Table 15). Separately, Table 9 shows the top five Bureau allegations as Other Procedure (#1/13 complaints), Other Conduct (#2, third year in a row/8 complaints), Inadequate Action (#3/7 complaints, and, we note, hard to understand how this category does not involve a community member), Improper Vehicle Pursuit (down from #1 to #4/6 complaints), and "Next Three Allegations Tied" (#5, again not spelled out in a footnote as with 2013/4 complaints). On-Duty unprofessional behavior, last year's #3 complaint, is not represented this year.

--Mediation: Where Is It?

There are only two references to the fact that IPR gives complainants the option to sit down with an officer and a professional mediator as one way to resolve complaints-- one brief mention on the overleaf introduction, and the other in a graphic, not the body text (p. 6). Even though Mediation was touted as a way to speed up the process and resolve complaints outside the investigatory process, it now seems to be the unwanted child that IPR doesn't talk about. When presenting the system to the community in special meetings from May to August, the Director barely touched on the process. Mediation was only used 7 times in 2013 (we noted, down from 8-25 cases a year previously); the graph notes it was used in 2% of cases in 2014, but the full story (Table 5) shows there were 8 cases in 2014.

Last year's report summarized the facts underlying complaints that went to mediation. In fact, they reported on four of the seven cases. As noted above, this year's report has no summaries of any mediations.

--Outreach, IPR's Pride and Joy, Shrunken

Whereas IPR's outreach program once had its own entire section in the annual report, including lists of organizations that were contacted, this year it is reduced to a single paragraph titled "IPR continues to raise awareness in the community." Other than recruitment of CRC members (as mentioned above), it merely states that:
(a) "raising awareness of IPR's role... is an ongoing challenge";
(b) IPR attended or organized "a number of events"; and
(c) "it made inroads with immigrant communities and a variety of organizations where youth, women, and people of color gather."

While that is interesting, it leaves off that CRC's outreach committee was extending itself to homeless advocacy groups, and does not mention whether the people involved in the "variety of organizations" are those who experience frequent interactions with police.

PCW and the League of Women Voters have also repeatedly asked for the Outreach coordinator to share feedback from community members in IPR reports. The monthly Director's reports sometimes contain a few sentences about such feedback, but IPR's general response is that they want to keep such communications confidential. Surely they could say something like, "we have heard that homeless people are being rousted from their campsites with no warning" or "African American teenagers say they are frequently stopped and patted down for weapons" without revealing the identity of any individual who talked to them.

--Where are all the recommendations?

In additions to several recommendations made by the CRC, OIR Group and the Police Review Board, the report doesn't even include a reference to the IPR's study of how the police interact with Portland's Hip Hop community, which was released in December 2014. We've said before and will say again that IPR's annual reports should include a table of the recommendations made by these bodies, the Bureau's response, and the progress of changes made if any.

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--Why Cases Are Dismissed: Fewer Crystal Ball Predictions

The report notes that 56% of the cases IPR dismissed were because the described behavior did not violate Bureau policies. Table 6 shows that means 150 complaints met that criteria. They run through other reasons with no statistics, those of "unable to identify the officer" (33/12%), "complainant withdrew or was unavailable" (25/9%), and delay in filing (11/4%). They did not note the most controversial reason, "cannot prove misconduct," which PCW has complained about before requiring psychic visions of the future to determine. It was the fourth-most- used reason, with 16 cases (6%), way down from the 16-25% it was used in the past, and the 43 uses in 2013.

--Non-Disciplinary Complaints Fail to Remedy Officer Rudeness

The use of "Service Improvement Opportunities" has continued to be the number one disposition for complaints sent to Internal Affairs over the past seven years. Of 111 cases handled by IA, 55 (just under 50%) were handled as non-disciplinary complaints. This means the officer's supervisor discussed the incident with him/her but it does not rise to something that would result in a formal Command Counseling, Letter of Reprimand or time off. Out of 379 initial complaints, this means one out of every 7 is handled as an SIO.

The only place, other than the summary case reports, where SIOs are mentioned in the report is in the chart showing how IA handled its cases. Thus, you need to look again at the separate Tables (#8) to learn that Rudeness once again was the #1 complaint handled as an SIO, with 24 cases in 2014, up from 19. One has to wonder why such behavior continues to be the #1 concern of complainants, even though it is supposedly being addressed one- on-one with hundreds of officers (assuming the same officer won't be given more than one chance at an SIO for the same offense). And why we repeat this concern every year and IPR, the Bureau, the Chief and the Police Commissioner take no action to change it. *-18

While Force complaints can't be handled as SIOs, most of the top five SIOs look a lot like the top 5 general complaint categories:
Rudeness is #1 (24 cases, same rank for years, #1 general allegation);
Inadequate Communication is #2 (6 cases, same rank as 2012, not one of the top 5 general allegations);
Inadequate Investigation is tied at #3 (5 cases, same rank as 2013, #4 general); and
Demeaning/Defaming Conduct is tied at #3 (5 cases, new category, #5 general);
"Other Conduct" is also tied at #3 with 5 cases (and again, IPR doesn't break this out in a footnote for clarity).

Falling off the chart was Failure to Identify, a serious allegation against officer (#4 in 2013); we hope this means it is happening less often, not that it is being reported less often or being adjudicated less often. Also missing in the 2014 stats are Inadequate Action (was #2) and Failure to Write a Report (was #5).

--Survey About IPR's Adequacy Still Not Given to Complainants

Since 2011, when IPR stopped surveying the people who actually file complaints and thus are best suited to give an opinion on how the oversight system works, the only data released come from the Auditor's city- wide surveys of Portland services. A once-detailed section dwindled to one paragraph, and now is completely absent from the report. Table 19 shows that in 2014, IPR only got a "Good/Very good" rating from 38% of respondents (the highest was 47% in 2009), with a record low 17% "Bad/Very Bad" reply. However, the largest category, as usual since 2010, was "neutral" (at 45%), likely because so many Portlanders don't even know that the IPR exists. Last year our analysis showed that even if every single complainant was unique (ie, not a repeat filer) and a resident of Portland, less than 1% of all residents have used the IPR in the previous 6 years. That number holds true even adding in the 379 new complaints.

IPR's approval rating has barely improved since they were given more powers in 2010 and 2014, rising from 33% to 38%. Since their services are consistently rated so poorly, it is still a mystery why IPR doesn't want to learn from its clients how to improve.

--Precinct Referrals Frequent Enough to Get Highlighted

It seems a disservice to complainants whose cases are dismissed without a second thought that a growing number of cases IPR dismisses are being sent for review by supervisors ("Precinct Referrals"). The report notes that IPR sent to supervisors "almost 80 of the complaints that did not rise to the level of misconduct." Table 5 shows in a footnote that the actual number was 79, which is 21% of the complaints that came in the door and 29% of the 268 dismissals. As this number continues to rise, we suggest IPR at least expand the footnote to a separated line item showing the trend of referrals over the years. As noted above, one of the sample cases raises questions about whether dismissals/referrals are being made in cases that actually involve misconduct, however minor.

--Why Aren't All the Cases Being Processed by IPR?

The report notes that IPR only processed 358 of the 379 complaints filed in 2014, but in 2013 it was 338 of 409 cases. (In 2012, four more cases were processed than filed). IPR staff reports that some of the community complaints are not listed as processed by IPR because they were handled directly by Internal Affairs. It was our understanding that every community complaint had to come in through IPR, at least in order for it to be handled consistently with other, similar cases, and for tracking purposes. If 20 to 70 cases a year are bypassing IPR, this is just another part of the system that needs to be overhauled. IPR was established so that people would not have to trust police investigating other police.

--New Auditor, New Attitude

We noted last year that then-Auditor Lavonne Griffin Valade had barely appeared at any CRC meetings in 2013- 2014. That continued to be true to the end of her term. Her replacement, Mary Hull Caballero, has attended a number of CRC functions as well as the IPR outreach sessions explaining how the system works. So far in 2015, she has stood up to the Mayor's office and the Portland Police Association. Hull Caballero's influence on IPR's activities is not going to be evident until the 2015 annual report. That said, we're concerned that her background as a news reporter is partly responsible for the annual report looking more like a summary article (with headlines, rather than subject matter, separating topics). We hope that a fuller report can be issued that is clearer and integrates the tables either alongside the text (for which we advocated for many years) or in an appendix available to anyone holding the physical report.

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While IPR has continued its effort to illustrate examples of misconduct complaints it handles, the overall feeling from reading their annual report is one of disappointment and confusion. Even though a few more cases, including cases involving use of force, were found out of policy, the likelihood of a community member's concerns about police behavior ending up changing that officer's behavior seem as slim as ever. Moreover, as a volunteer organization, Portland Copwatch should not have to spend hours upon hours creating an analysis like this one to supplement the work of the 10+ paid staff members at IPR. It is incredibly frustrating that after years of helping mold the annual reports into something useful and readable, the new report can't, on its own, be used to (a) understand how our accountability system works, (b) see how well the DOJ Agreement is being implemented, or (c) view ongoing trends by laying it side by side with previous reports.

Neither Portland Copwatch, the DOJ, the Community Oversight Advisory Board, nor the Citizen Review Committee should have to reference multiple documents (Director's reports, IPR quarterly reports, Police Review Board reports, separated data tables) to get a comprehensive view of the oversight system.

We continue to encourage community members to use the system, since it is the only one we have. If nobody filed a complaint, the City will never hold officers accountable. That said, a few of the cases this year involved Copwatch clients, and the outcomes were less than satisfactory. We don't want to keep sending people into a system that treats the officers with more credibility than the community. We look forward to seeing this "executive summary" annual report being expanded to include all relevent information, and then hearing the report presented to City Council. We also hope to see a turnaround-- and a much earlier and more thorough report-- in 2016.


*1-Memo from US DOJ to City Attorney Tracy Reeve and Auditor Lavonne Griffin Valade dated October 28, 2014, in which the DOJ seeks assurances that the City will produce the 2014 IPR report "no later than March 31, 2015."
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*2-The hard copy of the report has an entire blank page (plus the inside back cover), so some of these tables and/or other information PCW is requesting could at least have been included on those sheets.
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*3-City Code 3.21.070(L)
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*4-Moreover, the IPR's own Quarterly reports have now been minimized from four page spreads covering various aspects to single-sheet, single-issue newsletters. A few years ago a previous IPR Director, when asked about the lack of annual reports, suggested that PCW just "staple the quarterly reports together." The annual report should be a comprehensive, self-contained document for people in Portland and around the country to understand how the system works and what is going on. We also noted last year that the Director's reports should enumerate the possible stages of deadly force investigations to give an idea where in the timeline each case sits.
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*5-Though the IPR insists that the ordinance prohibits such an appeal, PCW firmly believes people subjected to deadly force should have the same rights as people who get called names by or punched by police officers. As we noted last year, Keaton Otis' father Fred Bryant tried filing such an appeal in 2012 but was denied.
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*6-To be fair, Disparate Treatment could also be for a number of other factors including gender and sexual orientation, but based on the number of complaints from people of color we believe the majority are about race.
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*7-Portland Mercury, November 21, 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_QK4OObAkY
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*8-See PCW's analysis of the Police Review Board reports from July 2014 and January 2015:
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*9-We wrote, "The officer was specifically found out of policy for poor communication with the teen's adult guardians, failure to respond to a sexual assault, stating there was 'no report required' despite mandates on such cases, and failing to report a crime."
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*10-Directive 310.00: Conduct, Professional
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*11-In the past we gave a "generous" view, saying how many allegations were "Sustained" among just investigated cases; that figure for 2014 is given in Table 13 as 42 of 100 allegations, or 42%, considerably lower than IPR's 66% figure.
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*12-Portland Copwatch has complained since 2007 that the Bureau combined the findings of "Insufficient Evidence" and "Unfounded" into the "Unproven" category. Unfortunately, when they split them apart again they called the "he said/she said" finding "Not Sustained"-- which could refer to an "Exonerated" or "Unfounded" finding as well. IPR tells us the new findings were not used until 2015.
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*13-The IPR's first investigation in 2013 was into a Bureau-on-Bureau complaint involving Captain Mark Kruger, so the seven investigations into complaints with civilians in 2014 were indeed their first such investigations.
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*14-Appeals actually often take longer when CRC sends the case back for further investigation; for example they sent case 2013-x-0005 back in February 2014 but the final hearing wasn't held until October 2014.
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*15-IPR Director's reports, including July 2015 at http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=44059&a=537375; IPR staff tells us that t he sixth complaint, though regarding a 2014 event, was filed in 2015, and that one of the other complaints was listed as a "Traffic Division" complaint.
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*16-City Code 3.21.120 [G][4]. Any case involving a community member is labeled as a "C" case, while Bureau-on-Bureau and deadly force incidents--still a sore point for the community-- are labeled "B" cases.
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*17-See < http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=52678&a=535496>.
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*18-The Bureau's Training Division made a presentation at the Community/Police Relations Committee in September 2015 indicating that professional communication was part of all their training.
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Posted November 20, 2015