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April 14, 2010

Minutes

Citizen Review Committee

April 14, 2010

 

Date Approved: May 12, 2010

 

Meeting Location: Lovejoy Room, Portland City Hall

 

CRC Members Present:  Michael Bigham (Chair), Jeff Bissonnette, Lindsey Detweiler, Hank Miggins, Ayoob Ramjan, Lewellyn Robison, Rochelle Silver, Jamie Troy

                                      

CRC Member Absent:  Loren Eriksson (excused)

 

City staff:  Mary-Beth Baptista (IPR Director), Constantin Severe (IPR Assistant Director); Derek Reinke (IPR Senior Management Analyst), Linly Rees (Deputy City Attorney)

 

Police Bureau:  Assistant Chief Brian Martinek, Commander Dave Famous (Central Precinct), Captain Ed Brumfield (IAD), Lieutenant Erik Schober (IAD)

 

Community/Media:  Dan Handelman (Portland CopWatch and Flying Focus Video), Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters), Kenneth Kreushcher (National Lawyers Guild); Logan Perkins (law student); unidentified community members.       

 

Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm.

 

Introductions and Welcome

 

Approval of Minutes

Mr. Miggins made a motion to approve the minutes of the 3/10/10 CRC meeting.  Mr. Bissonnette seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

 

Mr. Ramjan made a motion to approve the minutes of the 3/16/10 CRC meeting.  Mr. Bissonnette seconded.   Ms. Robison proposed amending the fourth paragraph, page 2 to reflect that she initially thought it would be a conflict of interest if the IPR Director were a voting member of the Police Review Board, but given that CRC members have been members of the Performance and Use of Force Review Boards, she conceded that this has not been an issue in the past.  The minutes were unanimously approved as amended.

 

Conference Meeting on #2009-X-0005 (IPR Case #2006-C-0475)

 

Chair Bigham stated that CRC challenged the following three findings: 

 

Allegation #1:  Change Exonerated with a Debriefing to Unproven with a Debriefing. 

 

Allegation #11:  Change Unproven to Unproven with a Debriefing

 

Allegation #2(a):  Change Unproven with a Debriefing to Sustained.

 

Assistant Chief Martinek accepted CRC’s challenge of the findings on Allegation #1 and Allegation #11,  but he said that the Police Bureau disagreed with CRC’s challenge of the finding of Unproven with a Debriefing on Allegation #2, concerning use of a Taser.  Assistant Chief Martinek said that current policy and training allow officers to use the Taser when they believe the intent for physical resistance is present, which he said the officers articulated.

 

Assistant Chief Martinek said that although neither he nor Chief Sizer believed that the officer’s actions were the best way of handling the situation, their analysis was based on whether or not the officers’ actions were within the policy in effect at the time.  Mr. Troy stated that there was nothing in the video of this incident that suggested to him that the appellant was trying to resist or flee.  In response to a question from Ms. Detweiler, Assistant Chief Martinek confirmed that the policy does not allow Taser use with subjects engaging in passive resistance.

 

Mr. Bissonnette asked Assistant Chief Martinek to clarify whether the Bureau did or did not accept CRC’s recommendation on this allegation.  Assistant Chief Martinek said that the Police Bureau’s position is that it was more likely than not that the officer in this situation acted within policy and in accord with his training and experience. 

 

On behalf of the appellant, Ms. Perkins gave a statement in support of CRC’s challenge of the finding on Allegation #2.

 

At this point Chair Bigham temporarily halted the meeting to allow Assistant Chief Martinek to call Chief Sizer for confirmation of the Bureau’s position.  When the meeting resumed, Assistant Chief Martinek confirmed that the Police Bureau accepted CRC’s recommendations regarding Allegations #1 and #11 but did not accept CRC’s recommendation regarding Allegation #2. 

 

During public comment, Mr. Handelman stated that he supported CRC’s recommendations and felt that it was worthwhile to pursue this matter despite the lack of timeliness.  Ms. Aiona advised CRC to ensure that a letter of response is received from the Police Bureau before any future conference hearings are scheduled.

 

Chair Bigham called for a motion.  Ms. Silver made a motion that CRC stay with its decision to challenge the Police Bureau’s finding on Allegation #2.  Mr. Bissonnette seconded the motion.   The motion passed 5-0, with abstentions by the three CRC members who did not participate in the original hearing.

 

Yes:  Bigham, Bissonnette, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain:  Detweiler, Ramjan, Robison

 

At Mr. Miggins’s suggestion, Chair Bigham requested a written verification that the Police Bureau accepted CRC’s recommendations on Allegations #1 and #11.  Mr. Troy suggested that the Appeal Protocol should be changed to require a letter from the Police Bureau whenever CRC’s challenge of a finding is accepted.

 

Response to CRC’s Letter to Assistant Chief Martinek

 

Chair Bigham referred to a letter that CRC sent Assistant Chief Martinek a couple months ago regarding an incident in which two officers allegedly harassed a citizen.  Although the appeal was withdrawn, CRC had concerns about the incident and wanted to hear Assistant Chief Martinek’s thoughts on this matter.

 

Assistant Chief Martinek referred to a handwritten note that he had made on a case file document that was objected to by a CRC member.  He stated that it would never be his intent to be disrespectful or dismissive to CRC, and he apologized that it came across that way.  He said that the note he was referring to was meant for the Internal Affairs staff, and he did not realize that it was going to be made public.

 

Regarding his letter to CRC, which was a response to a situation in which two officers engaged in a conversation with a person before a trial, Assistant Chief Martinek offered to clear up any questions that CRC might have.  He stated that Commander Famous (the officers’ current commander) did a debriefing with both officers and expressed to them that the contact they made with this citizen was inappropriate and unnecessary.  Prior to this a lieutenant from Southeast Precinct (where the officers were previously assigned) spoke to the officers and directed them not to engage in similar contacts.  At that time Assistant Chief Martinek directed that these officers not be allowed to work together as partners, but this order failed to be carried out due to a sudden illness of the Southeast Precinct commander.  The Assistant Chief’s directive was later conveyed to Commander Famous.  However, since these officers had not demonstrated any similar negative behavior and had received several commendations for their work in Central Precinct, they were allowed to continue working together as partners.  Commander Famous said that he sat in on the latest debriefing of the officers, and he confirmed that the officers understood the dynamics of this situation and agreed not to initiate this type of contact in the future. 

 

Investigative Case File Review of #2009-X-0007 (IPR #2009-C-0125)

 

Assistant Director Severe presented an overview of the investigation.  Lieutenant Schober presented a summary of the IAD portion of the investigation.  Lieutenant Schober said that two CRC members had put forth questions about the investigation.  The first question was from Mr. Miggins, who asked why IAD did not interview the officers’ supervisor.  The second question was from Mr. Troy and was regarding the interview of Officer B, who described some poles by the pay phone.  Lieutenant Schober explained that the officer was referring to “crash poles” that are placed to keep objects from crashing into the phone booth.  Ms. Silver added that she had requested a photograph or drawing of the phone booth area and asked that the officers and the two civilian witnesses draw on the photograph or drawing the location and orientation of the police car in question.  Mr. Miggins asked for clarification of whether the appellant was present when the officers involved in this case allegedly went to the appellant’s father’s house after this incident.  Mr. Miggins also questioned why the officers’ supervisor could not be identified and interviewed.  He also asked why the allegation that the officers laughed at the appellant was classified as Courtesy rather than Conduct.  Assistant Director Severe replied that it could have been classified as either Courtesy or Conduct.               

 

Director Baptista asked CRC to clarify and specify what additional efforts they would like IAD to carry out.  After a lengthy discussion, Director Baptista listed the following additional efforts that CRC members requested of IAD:

 

Reinterview the complainant to attempt to identify the East Precinct supervisor whom she spoke with; interview the supervisor if identified; if the supervisor cannot be identified, document all efforts made to try to identify the supervisor.  

 

Photograph the scene.

 

Reinterview officers and witnesses, asking them to identify where the police car was and the orientation of that police car on a scene diagram.

 

Obtain the traffic record of the appellant and her boyfriend and the stop log of the officers to get information about how frequently the complainant and her boyfriend have been stopped by these officers.

 

Make attempts to identify and interview the roommate with whom the complainant was speaking on the phone.

 

Chair Bigham called for a motion.   Ms. Silver moved that CRC send the case back for the information stated by Director Baptista.   [?] seconded the motion.   The motion passed by a vote of 7-1.

 

Yes:  Bissonnette, Detweiler, Miggins, Ramjan, Robison, Silver, Troy

 

No:  Bigham

 

Director’s Report

Director Baptista said the Director’s report would be submitted and posted online.

 

IPR Structure Review Workgroup Draft Report

 

Ms. Robison did not believe there was enough time at this meeting to fully discuss the draft report.  Mr. Miggins agreed.  Ms. Silver suggested having an additional CRC meeting in April to discuss the IPR Structure Review Report and the PARC Review Report.  A special meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 27, at 5:30 p.m.  It was decided that the PARC Review Report will be discussed at the next regular CRC meeting.  

 

Discussion of Policy and Training Issues regarding Appealed Cases 2006-C-0475 and 2007-C-0335

 

Ms. Silver said that police leadership needs to provide better supervision and model professional behavior so that officers may learn how to deescalate difficult situations.  Ms. Detweiler suggested that debriefings of officers be memorialized in writing for purposes of accountability.  Mr. Bigham noted that, given the excessive length of time that it took the Police Bureau to complete case #2007-C-0035, there needs to be a tightening up on timeliness.  Director Baptista noted that timeliness of investigations has already greatly improved.  Mr. Bissonnette expressed concern about problems with administrative follow-through in the Police Bureau as evidenced by an order from the Assistant Chief getting “lost in the shuffle.”  Mr. Ramjan said that there needs to be greater consistency in the way officers treat citizens. 

 

Director Baptista asked for CRC’s guidance on sending the letter regarding policy recommendations to the Police Bureau.  It was decided that on a trial basis the Director will send a draft of the letter to the CRC Chair and the Appeal Workgroup Chair, one of whom will send an email to all CRC members, asking them to call the CRC Chair or the Workgroup Chair if they have any questions or concerns.      

 

Workgroup Reports

 

Mr. Miggins announced that the Outreach Workgroup has agreed to recommend to CRC that the Outreach Work become a standing workgroup with rotating membership similar to the Recurring Audit Workgroup.  This will be brought to CRC for approval at a subsequent meeting.              

 

Mr. Bigham announced that the Taser/Less Lethal Force Workgroup will be meeting on April 20 at 4:00 p.m.

 

Mr. Bigham said that the meetings of the stakeholders group will be open to the public, and CRC members should feel free to attend.  Mr. Bigham is appointing himself as the CRC representative on this committee. 

 

Mr. Miggins announced that the Protocol Workgroup has set a meeting for April 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Mr. Troy’s office. 

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Aiona commended CRC for holding a forum on police accountability and for setting a special meeting to discuss the IPR Structure Workgroup Report.  Ms. Aiona recommended that the public be clearly notified when draft reports are available for review and comments.

 

Mr. Handelman urged CRC to move quickly on its request for driving records since these records are kept for only a limited time.   Mr. Handelman requested that the times and dates of all the workgroup meetings continue to be announced at CRC meetings.  He said that conference hearings need to be better organized.  

 

Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting.