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March 17, 2009

Minutes

Citizen Review Committee

March 17, 2009

 

Approved April 21, 2009

 

Meeting Location:  Lovejoy Room, Portland City Hall

 

CRC Members Present:  Michael Bigham, Josephine Cooper, JoAnn Jackson, Mark Johnson, Lewellyn Robison, Rochelle Silver

 

CRC Members Absent:  Barbara Anderson (excused), Loren Eriksson (excused), Hank Miggins (excused)

 

City Staff:  Gary Blackmer (City Auditor) Constantin Severe (IPR Assistant Director), Michael Hess (IPR Deputy Director)

 

Police Bureau: Captain David Famous (IAD); Commander Michael Reese (Central Precinct)

 

Community Members: Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters), Dan Handelman (Portland CopWatch)

 

              I. Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 5:34 p.m.

 

             II. Introductions and welcome. 

 

            III. Guest Speaker: Commander Michael Reese gave a presentation about Central Precinct 

 

Commander Reese said that Director Baptista recently went with him on a night shift ride-along in Central Precinct. Central Precinct includes several large neighborhoods and the downtown core area. Central Precinct has strategies in place to address some of the predominant problems in the downtown core area in order to balance the needs of the homeless population, social service providers, and the business    community. One way of dealing with neighborhood livability issues is by utilizing bicycle police officers. For the past ten years, four Central Precinct bicycle officers have been embedded with Portland Patrol Incorporated (PPI) security officers.  The embedded officers are under the control and direction of the Central Precinct commander. The business community pays for security and cleaning that the City cannot provide. This includes paying the salaries of the Portland Police officers who are assigned to work with PPI. 

 

Ms. Jackson asked if there are any statistics to show the effectiveness of the Police Bureau’s collaboration with PPI. Commander Reese replied that the productivity level of officers assigned to PPI is very high.  They make more arrests than any other officers in the City of Portland, and they write more citations than anyone except Traffic officers. They deal with things such as aggressive panhandling, street drinkers, drug dealers, etc. There has been a 34% reduction in crime in the downtown core area over the past three years, making downtown Portland one of the safest downtown areas of any major city. 

 

In response to a question by Ms. Cooper, Commander Reese discussed a list of chronic arrestees used by Central Precinct officers, a list that is generated by arrests for drugs and drug-related crimes. This program has been very successful, as evidenced by an 80 percent reduction in recidivism. Central Precinct and the District Attorney’s Office have partnered with Central City Concern, the Volunteers of America, Project Respond, JOIN, and others to craft a plan to make available housing, drug treatment, and programs that address the underlying causes of criminality.  

 

Mr. Johnson spoke to the frequent confusion in the eyes of the public between PPI security officers and PPB officers.  He stated that CRC has made a number of unsuccessful overtures to establish communication ties with PPI. He said that anything that Commander Reese can do to assist in this process would be appreciated. Commander Reese agreed to talk with John Wren of PPI or Norm Sharp, the Director of Clean and Safe about this.  Commander Reese affirmed that PPI has its own complaint process in place.    

 

Dan Handelman expressed concern that Central Precinct had the highest use of force percentages of any precinct. Commander Reese said that the higher percentage of use of force among Central Precinct officers is largely due to the entertainment district detail, which has to intervene with many bar fights and very intoxicated persons.  Commander Reese outlined several steps that Central Precinct has taken in conjunction with bar owners to address this problem. Commander Reese also mentioned that dealing with street level drug problem in downtown Portland also requires more frequent use of force. Commander Reese stated that complaints against Central Precinct officers, including use of force complaints, have decreased approximately 50 percent over the past year.  

 

         IV. Director’s Report (Assistant Director Severe)

 

IPR Work Plan

 > Manage case load

 > Support CRC workgroups

 > Training and orientation of IPR's Community Outreach Coordinator Irene Konev.

 > Participate in the Force Task Force.

 > Continue to work ont he 2008 Annual Report-projected release date, on or about April 22, 2009.

 

IPR Accomplishments

  • Community Outreach Coordinator hired. Irene Konev will start work on March 19, 2009.  Irene has a proven track record of building coalitions with diverse members of our community and an understanding of police-community concerns and relations.  She served as the Outreach Coordinator for Clackamas Women’s services for over three years and has extensive experience in engaging underserved communities.  

Outreach/Media

  • A KGW story was mentioned as a great example of how PPB and IPR can work together to educate the community about citizen oversight in Portland. 

 

  • Following CRC’s adoption of the “Disparate Treatment Complaints” interim report by the Bias-based Policing Workgroup last month, a press release was sent out to mainstream media, community media, and all IPR email lists.  Outreach efforts resulted in at least four different stories in the media, including two in-depth articles in The Skanner. The workgroup has contacted key organizations for feedback on the report, with meetings set with the Office of Human Relations – Community & Police Relations Committee (March 18), and Oregon Action (week of March 23).      

IPR Caseload: a table summarizing the IPR caseload over the past three months was provided.  

 

IAD Caseload: a table summarizing the IAD caseload over the past three months was provided. 

 

Cases Eligible for Appeal: There was one case currently eligible for appeal. An appeal request was withdrawn by the appellant after he met with the Captain of the Traffic Division to discuss his complaint.  He said that he felt that the Captain listened to him and understood his concerns completely.

 

           V.   Approval of minutes of the 2/17/09 CRC Meeting and the 2/28/09 CRC Retreat

 

   Ms. Robison moved to approve the 2/17/09 CRC minutes.  Ms. Silver seconded. Motion passed unanimously. 

 

   Ms. Silver moved to approve the 2/28/09 retreat minutes.  Ms. Robison  seconded.  Motion passed unanimously.

 

   Ms. Robison moved to amend the 2/28/09 retreat minutes by striking out “designated training program” under “Goal Setting II” on page 2 of the minutes. Ms. Jackson seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

 

         VI. CRC Chair’s Report (Chair Bigham)

 

The CRC retreat was very helpful. The 2009-2010 goals that were agreed upon were the following:  increase credibility among stakeholders regarding the IPR/CRC complaint process; review and make     recommendations regarding satisfaction with the Portland Police Bureau; and evaluate and develop in-house training for CRC. 

 

The CRC Executive Committee will meet to discuss training for CRC members and will bring their recommendations to the full CRC. 

 

As a follow-up to a suggestion made at the CRC retreat, Mr. Bigham sent an email to Commander Tellis to find out if the PPB Training Division has a  citizen advisory committee. Commander Tellis replied that that   there is nothing currently existing, but he was interested in setting something up. Mr. Bigham expressed a desire to have a CRC representative on the committee if this is done.

 

Another item discussed in the retreat was forming an ad hoc committee to review and organize the tracking list. Mr. Bigham appointed Mr. Miggins and himself to this committee. Mr. Bigham accepted a suggestion to appoint Mr. Eriksson to this committee as well. Ms. Robison asked if the ad hoc committee would work on incorporating the CRC goals into the tracking process, and Mr. Bigham responded that he would hope so.    

 

The Executive Committee met with IPR staff to discuss the appeal process. Mike Hess agreed to send his meeting notes to all CRC members.  

 

   Ms. Josey Cooper is resigning from CRC following the April 21 meeting.  

 

        VII. Workgroup Updates

 

PARC Report Review Workgroup (Chair: Michael Bigham). The workgroup, which last met on 3/3/09, continues to review and analyze the Police Bureau’s response to PARC recommendations. Mr.Bigham hopes to pull together this information so that the workgroup can start developing its recommendations and comments. The next meeting, originally scheduled for Thursday 3/19/09, has been rescheduled.  

 

  • Next meeting: April 2, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Audit Services Library.

 

Case Handling Workgroup (Mr. Johnson). The workgroup did not meet during the past month. Mr. Bigham commented that it is his understanding that this workgroup would eventually transition into an audit committee with rotating members. 

    

  • The next meeting has not yet been scheduled. 

   IPR Structure Review Workgroup (Chair: Ms. Jackson). The workgroup spent most of the past meeting completing the workgroup template. 

  • Next meeting: April 9, 2009, from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Audit Services Library. Agenda: Resume discussion of the primary focus areas, moving on to staff and training issues.   

   Protocol Workgroup (Chair: Ms. Robison).

  • Next meeting: not yet scheduled.

Bias-based Policing Workgroup (Co-chair: Mr. Johnson). There has not been an official meeting since the interim report was published.  However, there was an informal meeting before tonight’s CRC meeting to assign responsibility for attending three community meetings that the workgroup has been invited to attend in the next couple of weeks.   

  • Next meeting: 4/9/09 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon in the Audit Services Library.  The agenda will be to review feedback that has been received and plan the future direction of the workgroup. 

Protocol Workgroup (Chair: Ms. Robison). The workgroup met on 3/11/09 to review proposed amendments to Protocol 5.14 (Protocol for Request for Reconsideration of CRC Decision) and Protocol 5.12 (Workgroup Protocol) in preparation for bringing the proposed revisions to the full CRC for their approval at tonight’s meeting. 

 

Ms. Robison made a motion to adopt Protocol 5.14 as revised (changing the time from for reconsideration of CRC decisions from 90 days to 100 days).  Ms. Cooper seconded the motion. There was no discussion. After public comment, the motion passed unanimously. 

 

Ms. Robison made a motion to adopt Protocol 5.12 as revised (providing the IPR with an agenda for workgroup meetings at least 5 business days before the workgroup is scheduled to meet and to occasionally preclude a public meeting when confidentiality is required.)  Ms. Silver seconded the motion. There was no discussion. After public comment, the motion passed unanimously. 

  • Next meeting: 4/15/09 from 9.30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Audit Services Library. The agenda will be to discuss Protocol 18 (Policy Review) and the future of the workgroup. 

            Retreat Workgroup (Chair: Ms. Robison). It will be necessary to work on following through on the goals that were established in the retreat and relating workgroup projects to the goals. 

  • Next meeting: not scheduled.

            Tow Policy Workgroup (Chair: Mr. Bigham). No meetings scheduled.

 

            Outreach Workgroup (Chair: Mr. Miggins). Mr. Bigham stated that this workgroup may resume meeting when the Outreach Coordinator is on board.

 

      VIII.      Old Business: None.

  

         IX.      New Business: Ms. Cooper reported that she attended a Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) presentation at the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Conference that opened up the possibility of a fundamental culture change in officers’ attitudes about mental illness.  Ms. Cooper also went on a ride-along with Officer Betty Woodward in downtown Portland, granting her a better insight into enforcement of the sit-lie ordinance and law enforcement challenges regarding homelessness and mentally illness.  

 

           X.      CRC Wrap-up Comments

 

Ms. Silver asked about an article in the newspaper about the case of  Freedom Child. Mr. Bigham stated that Ms.Child made several appearances before CRC to express her dissatisfaction with the handling of her complaint as a service complaint. 

 

Ms. Jackson said she appreciated the presentation by the Central Precinct commander, and she suggested inviting commanders of other precincts to speak to CRC. Mr. Bigham said that he would also like to invite Sergeant Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association, to speak to CRC.

 

Mr. Bigham said that he had requested time on the agenda of the Use of Force Task Force to discuss citizen concerns and transparency with the community. However, he did not attend the last task force meeting, so he intends to do this at the next meeting.       

 

Mr. Bigham said that Linly Rees of the City Attorney’s Office will provide training  at the next CRC meeting. The election of CRC officers will also take place at the next meeting.   

 

         XI. Public Comments:

 

Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters): Ms. Aiona suggested that CRC meet with whomever in the City is responsible for the Clean and Safe contract to gain a better understanding on how the system works so   that there might be an opportunity to put into place a mechanism whereby people who feel they have been mistreated by PPI officers might have some recourse.        

 

Dan Handelman (Portland Copwatch). Mr. Handelman expressed concern that the recently issued PARC report was not publicly reviewed by CRC. Mr. Handelman said that CRC should be consulted before          changes are issued in PPB policies. He suggested that the City Ombudsman’s Office process complaints regarding private City contractors such as PPI. Mr. Handelman said that police officers should pay more attention to notes about a person’s mental illness in the police data base before taking action. Regarding the appeal that was withdrawn, Mr. Handelman stated that CRC has now lost their opportunity to review and discuss this case in a public setting. He suggested that CRC hold some type of “post-hearing” or explanatory meeting to discuss the case.       

 

Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting at 7:08 p.m.