Citizen Review Committee
March 18, 2008
Approved: April 15, 2008
Meeting Location: Rose Room, Portland City Hall
CRC Members Present: Michael Bigham, Josephine Cooper, JoAnn Jackson, Mark Johnson, Hank Miggins, Robert Milesnick, Sherrelle Owens (arrived at 5:40 pm), Lewellyn Robison
CRC Members Absent: Loren Eriksson (excused)
City Staff Present: Gary Blackmer (City Auditor), Pete Sandrock (Acting IPR Director), Mike Hess (IPR), Derek Reinke (IPR)
Police Bureau Members Present: Captain John Tellis (IAD) and IAD Investigators Lynn Courtney, Barry Renna and Cordes Towle.
Mayor's Office: Maria Rubio
Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm.
I. Introductions and welcome
II. Approval of Minutes of the February 19, 2008, CRC Meeting: Mr. Miggins moved to approve the minutes as written. Ms. Jackson seconded the motion. The motion passed by a vote of 7-0.
III. Discussion of Transit Police Division Issues
Mr. Miggins expressed CRC concerns about the accountability of officers from other jurisdictions assigned to the Transit Division. These officers are not required to follow the rules to which the Portland Police Bureau officers are subject. This has made it difficult to answer the complaints of citizens and, in some cases, has hindered completion of the IAD investigation. Transit Division Commander Vincent Jarmer provided information on how he addresses infractions and provided information on those PPB policies and procedures with which officers from other jurisdictions are required to comply. He reiterated that the Intergovernmental Agreements require that officers abide by their home agency general orders and Transit Division Standard Operating Procedures. He further stated that he had only recently assumed the command of the Transit Division and would appreciate the opportunity to address the CRC's concerns. The CRC agreed to defer further action on this matter for 60 days.
IV. Director's Report (Acting Director Sandrock)
Mr. Sandrock provided the CRC with a written report. He discussed the status of hiring a new IPR Director and City Council action on consultant Ms. Eileen Luna-Firebaugh's report. He stated that the IPR Annual Report 2005-2006 was released on February 27, 2008, and discussed a number of highlights of the report.
There are no appeal requests pending, although the filing deadline is open for seven complaints.
PPB has accepted the recommendations of the CRC on the appeal of Case No. 2006-C-0520 (2007-X-0008).
Two new PPB directives were issued: Crowd Management and Control (635.10) and Physical Force (1010.20). The latter contains major changes to the Bureau's policy guidance on the use of non-deadly force.
IAD is currently working on 31 active investigations, of which 20 are citizen-initiated and 3 initiated by IPR as a result of tort claim reviews.
V. Workgroup Updates
Protocol Workgroup: Ms. Robison discussed the draft guidelines for CRC members to present the hearing report at appeal hearings. The CRC had approved the concept, as a test, at the January 2008 meeting but had requested the workgroup prepare guidelines. CRC approved the guidelines. Ms. Robison also suggested that the workgroup be temporarily suspended until a new IPR Director is on board and until the PPB's Office of Professional Standards is fully implemented. CRC approved this request.
Bias Based Policing Workgroup: Ms. Owens stated that file review was continuing and that the group would be meeting with the Mayor's Racial Profiling Committee on March 20, 2008.
PARC Report Review Workgroup: Mr. Bigham stated that the next meeting would be on March 31, 2008, from noon to 2pm.
Outreach Workgroup: Mr. Miggins stated that the workgroup has been suspended pending the decision on the IPR outreach position.
VI. Tracking List Update: Mr. Milesnick stated he had added the item on exploring the reduction of actions leading to citizen complaints that was discussed at the February 2008 meeting. He requested to be relieved of this responsibility, and Ms. Owens agreed to assume the responsibility of maintaining the tracking list.
Mr. Bigham suggested a new workgroup be formed to look at service complaints. The group would review a sample of cases to ensure that they are being properly handled. The group would also reconsider the question of whether service complaints should be eligible for appeal. Mr. Milesnick, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Robison volunteered for the workgroup.
VII. Discussion of the Luna-Firebaugh Report: Chair Bigham reminded CRC that there a City Council hearing on the report was scheduled for the following morning, and he invited members to sign up to testify to the Council. He then opened the floor for general discussion of the report. Chair Bigham said that his impression of the Council's work session on the report was that, although they began with a written agenda, and they rapidly strayed from it. He said they focused basically on two topics: service complaints and whether CRC should have some kind of investigative authority. He said that was as far as they got with their agenda, but they agreed to reconvene in a few months for further discussion.
Acting Director Sandrock said that he believes that the intention of the work session was for the commissioners to begin talking about some ideas that they individually had about how to improve the IPR and CRC process.
Ms. Rubio said that Acting Director Sandrock began to walk through the complaint process with the commissioners, and they got stuck with the second item, which was service complaint process, so that was were most of the two hour work session was spent. Ms. Rubio passed out to the CRC members a document from the Mayor in which he prioritized the improvements he would like to see in terms of the report recommendations. She said the Mayor is very pleased with the work IPR has done as far as fostering organizational and policy change within the Police Bureau, and this was reflected in the report. In its work of providing recourse to community members who feel they have been not treated fairly by the police, the Mayor suggested a number of ways that IPR might build greater community trust and awareness of IPR. The Mayor also recommended enhancing the role of CRC and providing additional training opportunities for CRC members, including funding to attend NACOLE conferences. The Mayor also recommended that the IPR staff should be broadened to include individuals with non-police investigative backgrounds.
Mr. Johnson asked for clarification of the recommendation regarding the conducting of investigations independent of the Police Bureau. Ms. Rubio explained that this would happen only for specified, high-profile cases. Mr. Johnson pointed out that the report was erroneous in stating that CRC does not the have direct authority to hear citizens' appeals.
Ms. Cooper expressed concern that Ms. Firebaugh's perception of "community" is not sufficiently broad and that the community from whom she gathered her data was somewhat limited.
Mr. Milesnick said that he agrees with the consultant that CRC should not have to go through IPR in making recommendations to the Police Bureau. He said he thinks the CRC should have the ability to go directly to commissioners and policy makers, not just for police, but for city-wide policy.
Mr. Johnson said that he agrees with the consultant in that there is a level of misconduct above which an officer should not be able to escape accountability by going to mediation. He also said that he thinks that CRC should be involved in the decision of whether an investigation should be undertaken by IPR or by IAD. He also thought that it would be good for CRC to have a closer relationship with the Council and that each commissioner should have a representative on CRC and have a relationship with that representative. He also thought that in addition to attending the Citizens Police Academy, CRC members should be offered training that is more specific to performing their job. He also thought that CRC should be involved in the formulation of allegations on the front end of the case.
Ms. Jackson said she feels CRC needs to be more in touch at a closer basis and not have so many steps in between in getting to that which needs to be done. She agreed that CRC needs a bigger voice and at times needs to be able to speak out directly to citizens and to City Council. Ms. Jackson thought that mediation should be widely used to enhance citizen satisfaction, for example when a citizen is not satisfied with the outcome of a service complaint.
Mr. Miggins said that he was discouraged with comments in the report about the need for increasing community awareness and participation, because CRC has worked hard and in many different ways to bring about community involvement, but to no avail.
Ms. Robison said she was disappointed with the errors in the report and the lack of concrete recommendations for community outreach. She said she agreed with Alexander Queral, former director of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, who said at a public meeting that the report is flawed, but let us use this as an opportunity to make improvements. She expressed concern that the report seems to contain an underlying theme of adversarial relations rather than working together to accomplish goals.
Ms. Owens stated that she has not had a chance to read the report yet, but she does believe that CRC needs more authority to address allegations or concerns that arise during other processes such as hearings or file reviews, to be able to request that IPR go back and review allegations that originally may not have been made but was discovered during other processes.
Mr. Bigham agreed that CRC needs to have a larger voice and not have IPR speak for them. He said that during the Council work session, IPR was in the position of having to speak for CRC. He said CRC needs to emphasize with the new IPR Director the need for more mediation. He thought the consultant at times showed a lack of due diligence by saying that IPR needed to do things that they are already doing. He said that he agrees that there was a slant on the part of the consultant toward a more adversarial stance, and he was not sure how effective that would be. He did, however, think that CRC needs to be more proactive and more assertive in looking into things, but he thought this could be done without "butting heads" with the Police Bureau.
Mr. Bigham asked if he would be asked to speak at the March 19, 2008, City Council meeting. Ms. Rubio responded that if he would like to speak, absolutely. Several CRC members agreed that it struck them as odd that they had not been asked to speak to Council up to this point. Mr. Miggins felt that CRC has not been treated very well by the Council.
Ms. Robison said that there is a perception that IPR is a roadblock that you have to get around in order to get to CRC, but she has always seen IPR as an asset and support, not as a roadblock.
Director Sandrock stated that the Portland model is not about advocacy for one side or another but levelheaded judgment. Ms. Cooper added that one way to emphasize this evenhandedness to people might be to explain the reasonable person standard in a way that an average person can understand, so that it becomes clear to them that CRC members have to base their judgments on that standard.
Director Sandrock pointed out that this is a critical time in the existence of CRC, and over time CRC will get a better sense of what their priorities should be. He encouraged CRC members to read the annual report alongside the consultant's report.
Ms. Rubio thanked CRC for sharing their recommendations and insight.
VIII. Old Business: None
IX. New Business: None
X. Public Comments
- Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters) stated that the League of Women Voters had established a workgroup to assess the Luna-Firebaugh report. She anticipated they would recommend staff for the CRC, changing the standards of investigation findings and the CRC conducting independent investigations. She also thanked Acting Director Sandrock for providing a written synopsis of his report.
- Dan Handelman (Portland Copwatch) expressed concern about the lack of public comment on the Police Bureau's new use of force directive. He said CRC should have more involvement in appeals. He also appreciated the Director's written synopsis of his Director's report.
XI. Wrap-up Comments: Ms. Cooper expressed concern that there is no citizen oversight for mental health issues comparable to CRC. This is of interest to CRC as frequently the PPB is the first responder to citizens with mental health issues. She will arrange for a speaker on this important matter.
Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting at 8:44 pm.