The following are all of the formal recommendations from consultant Eileen Luna Firebaugh's report on Portland's "Independent" Police Review Division, quoted verbatim from the report. We have added a note at the bottom regarding standard of proof that implies a recommendation on that subject.


1. The IPR Director and staff should become more active participants in complaint investigations. The Office of Independent Police Review should exercise their authority under the Ordinance to conduct independent investigations where the complaint is one of public import, and with the concurrence of the CRC, where the following conditions exist:

A. Where the IAD has not done an adequate job investigating a particular category of complaints. If the number of a particular category of complaints rises more than 25% over the previous year, the Director should investigate a complaint or complaints falling in that category.

B. The IPR Director should closely monitor the IAD investigations. If more than 25 percent of the investigations exceed 120 days, independent investigations of complaints alleging use of force, racial profiling, and legal violations should be conducted by the IPR until that deadline is again being met in 75% of the IAD investigations.

C. The IAD Director should conduct an independent investigation when the complainant has appealed to the CRC, and in the opinion of the CRC, more investigation is needed to consider the appeal.

D. The Director should monitor complaints against specific officers and report to the CRC if a particular officer has fit the criteria for EWS (5 complaints in one year, or 3 in a six month period). The Director should then conduct independent investigations of the complaints against this officer during the subsequent year.

2. The IPR Director and/or their designee should participate on a routine basis in IAD investigations of publicly generated complaints of public import, including being present at interviews and questioning the interviewee.

3. The process of the Rapid Dismissal of complaints should be continued where appropriate. This allows for an expeditious handling of complaints where a referral to another agency is necessary (Multnomah County officer), or where the complaint alleges issues which should be handled in court (traffic ticket). These complaints should count as an inquiry rather than as a complaint.

4. Additional staff should be hired to handle independent investigations. In order to balance the IPR office, these new investigators should not have a police background. While it is important to retain existing staff, it is also important to broaden the recruitment, and selection process. Outreach for new staff positions should include civilian investigative arenas, for example, organizations that have investigators (e.g. OSHA, Housing authorities, health care programs and others), Public Defenders, Private Investigators, attorneys and legal workers. This will enhance public confidence in the office, while preserving dedicated staff in their positions.

NOTE: NIJ Position on Funding: As is stated in the NIJ Report, a police auditor's office must have adequate resources to ensure that all duties can be conducted effectively and efficiently. The NIJ Report suggests that the exact size of an auditor's office staff should be based on a formula reflecting the size of the law enforcement agency under the auditor's jurisdiction, as measured by the number of full-time sworn officers.

5. The sustain rate computation in Portland should include all complaints received by the IPR that are not referred to other agencies. This should include all complaints that are reviewed and a determination made by IPR to dismiss, decline, or refer to IAD. It should also include all complaints referred to IAD, regardless of the disposition decision made by IA, whether it is to decline, to handle as a command referral, service complaint, or to fully investigate.

6. The training for existing staff should be civilianized. The NACOLE training should be conducted for all staff, and should continue on a bi-annual basis. IPR staff should be encouraged to attend NACOLE conferences with time release and fee reimbursement.

7. The IPR should offer and conduct the mediation of complaints at the request of either party, and the concurrence of both, on all complaints that make allegations of discourtesy or procedural complaints. The IPR should not offer mediation for complaints that allege use of force, legal violations such as improper stop, detention, search, or arrest, or where the officer has a pattern of misconduct.

8. The City Council needs to take a more active interest and role with the IPR system.
The CRC should make an annual, public presentation to the City Council of its activities.

9. The City Council should direct the PPB to use the common law enforcement terms (Unfounded, Exonerated, Not sustained, Sustained) to identify the findings to which their investigations can lead. These findings should be expanded to include those that conclude the subject officer committed an act that was inappropriate but that hold the department responsible for the officer's misconduct:
-- Policy failure: Department policy or procedures require or prohibit the act;
-- Supervision failure: Inadequate supervision--the officer's sergeant or lieutenant should have informed the officer not to engage in the act or to discontinue it;
-- Training failure: The officer receives inappropriate or no training in how to perform the act properly.

10. The IPR should ensure that officers and complainants are routinely noticed about the status of the complaint. As the Auditor found in his March 2001 study, IAD (and now IPR) are consistently failing to notify complainants about the status of their complaints, even though this is required every six weeks.


1. The powers of the CRC should be broadened to include oversight of the Independent Police Review Director and the Appeal Process. To address this recommendation:

a. The IPR Director should report to the CRC on the adequacy and timeliness of IAD complaints.

b. Where it deems appropriate, the CRC should have the authority to review complaints as to the quality, thoroughness, and impartiality of investigation. The CRC should appoint a subcommittee to review individual complaints. While a citizen board may be limited in time, this is a very important role.

c. The CRC should advise the IPR Director to conduct independent investigations where, in their opinion, the quality or timeliness has triggered the language of the ordinance that allows the IPR Director to conduct independent investigations.

d. Independent investigations should be conducted on all complaints where an appeal has been granted, and before an Appeal hearing is scheduled.

e. The CRC should have a subcommittee that works with the IPR Director to monitor the PPB Early Warning System. If the EWS is triggered regarding a particular officer then the CRC should notify the IPR Director to conduct independent investigations of all complaints received against this officer for the subsequent year.

2. The CRC should determine what cases it chooses to hear. The CRC should establish a subcommittee that will conduct appeals. At present, the IPR Director decides what cases are dismissed or declined. The Director now also decides what complaints may be taken to appeal. This gives the IPR Director "two bites of the apple," and may be part of the reason that so few appeals are made to the CRC. The CRC should request that the City Council grant subpoena power on an ad hoc basis for Appeal hearings. Conversely, the City Council should order that the PPB members testify as a condition of employment.

3. The CRC should take an assertive role in the identification of policy issues and the promulgation and implementation of policy recommendations. A subcommittee should identify policy issues that arise from review of on-going IPR investigations, the review of closed cases, appeals, and from community input. CRC members with expertise or interest in a particular policy should form subcommittees to work on that particular policy topic.

4. New guidelines should be developed for the selection of the members of the CRC. The CRC should remain at nine members. The Commissioners should each have one appointee to the CRC. The four remaining members should be appointed by the City Auditor from a pool of candidates as set forth in 3.21.080 Citizen Review Committee. Personalizing the selection process and tying the appointee to the appointer could greatly enhance the relationship between the City Council and the CRC.

5. CRC meetings should be restructured with public comment at the beginning and an established agenda which focuses on the work to be done at the meeting. Examine more effective ways of conducting CRC meetings. The CRC should have a secretary, who works with the IPR and the Chair to set the monthly agenda. This established agenda should be sent to police department policy personnel with requested reports on specific subjects set for a designated time on the agenda. The Minutes and the Agenda should be distributed with enough lead time to allow for the public and the CRC members to fully consider the information.

6. Outreach to all communities which explains the police complaint process. Presentations and brochures should be made available to community organizations. Discussions and presentations should be made regarding the complaint procedures of the IPR, the Appeal process, and the function of the CRC. The CRC should form a Speakers Bureau which reaches out to all community organizations, churches, and youth groups, with requests made for presentation time. A simple form related to the CRC appeal processes should be developed and distributed at these community meetings along with the IPR brochures.

7. The CRC should develop a training program using the recommended NACOLE training. All CRC members should receive training prior to participating in an Appeal Hearing. The NACOLE recommended training should be used as a guide for all new CRC members. New IPR staff should also attend this training. The CRC should include training in problem solving and conflict resolution skills, and should have a yearly, fourhour civil rights training session to be conducted by a civil rights attorney or advocacy group. They should also participate in a minimum of two ride-a- longs every year with PPB officers. CRC members should be encouraged to attend NACOLE conferences with time release and fee reimbursement


1. Transparency should be encouraged for all aspects of the IPR/CRC process. As the NIJ Report asserts "TRANSPARENCY: Police auditors provide transparency for law enforcement agencies. Transparency helps to overcome community suspicion and hostility toward law enforcement. Transparency is achieved through public reports with information about the citizen complaint process, the policies and procedures of the law enforcement agency, and special reports on particularly sensitive issues such as racial profiling, use of force or particularly controversial incidents."

2. The IPR should have absolute deadlines on the processing of complaints.

3. A PPB representative should be present at CRC meetings to answer policy questions.


1. Policy issues that arise from appeals should be sent to a CRC subcommittee that considers policy issues and makes policy recommendations.

2. Public meetings should be held to discuss policy issues.

3. Interested citizens with expertise in policy issues should be included in policy meetings and should be invited and encouraged to participate in Task Forces and CRC sub-committees.

4. There should be outreach to Professors of criminal justice, law, and public policy to request time for the IPR/CRC to do guest lectures to their classes. Student groups should be invited to participate in Task Forces and CRC sub-committees, and should be encouraged to assist the CRC in policy development on issues of interest.


1. The CRC should form a policy review subcommittee, working with an assigned IPR staff person, to determine what policy issues should receive attention. This subcommittee should include students who could conduct research at no cost to the City, in exchange for credit hours. This would enhance community participation and community awareness of the important work of the CRC.

2. The IPR should monitor the accountability for adherence to new police policies by PPB members.

3. The CRC should participate in training programs for PPB officers and personnel on new policies developed through the action of the CRC.


1. The IPR should produce comprehensive reports on an annual basis. These reports should mirror the 2004 IPR Annual Report and should include information on discipline, and of numbers of officers disciplined as a result of citizen complaints, and numbers of days off the job.

2. The IPR Director should ensure that IAD investigations are adequate and that officers are being held responsible for misconduct. This should be done by close monitoring as well as by independent investigations of issues of community concern.

3. The IPR should develop an effective community outreach program. IPR staff should regularly request and schedule monthly presentations with community and business organizations, including communities of color, church groups, neighborhood organizations, and youth groups. They should encourage a question and answer approach to enhance community confidence in the accessibility of staff and program.

4. The IPR should help complainants fill out and file forms. The IPR should provide training to community volunteers, community center personnel, and to university legal students to provide assistance to complainants. A university legal clinic could provide interns to help with this important work.

5. The IPR should develop a "Know your Rights and Responsibilities" card that can be distributed at community meetings and youth groups where presentations are made.

6. The IPR should develop a 'user-friendly' poster for the public areas of police division and community organization offices that explains the process for filing a complaint and gives the phone numbers and addresses of the IPR office.

7. The IPR should distribute brochures and complaint filing forms to neighborhood organizations and offices, and make their distribution part of an outreach presentation.

8. The appeal hearings should be televised on a community access television channel and advertised as upcoming. This would enhance community information about the right to appeal and would also enhance community trust in the process through increased transparency.

NOTE: On page 119, the report states (without making a formal recommendation):
2. The CRC uses a standard of proof (Reasonable Person) which according to some CRC members and observers "no one seems to understand." The Merriam Webster Dictionary of Law defines the Reasonable Person Standard as: a fictional person with an ordinary degree of reason, prudence, care, foresight, or intelligence whose conduct, conclusion, or expectation in relation to a particular circumstance or fact is used as an objective standard by which to measure or determine something (as the existence of negligence). This standard is more difficult for a layperson to understand than the Preponderance of the Evidence standard used by the Portland IAD in its investigations, by other civilian oversight agencies, and in Civil law. The definition of Preponderance of the Evidence is that the party bearing the burden of proof must present evidence which is more credible and convincing than that presented by the other party or which shows that the fact to be proven is more probable than not.

back to IPR assessment page back to top
Portland Copwatch home page
Peace and Justice Works home page

Posted June 16, 2008