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April 27, 2010

Citizen Review Committee

Special Meeting

April 27, 2010

 

Date Approved:  May 12, 2010

 

Meeting Location: Pettygrove Room, Portland City Hall

 

CRC Members Present: Michael Bigham (Chair), Hank Miggins (Vice Chair),  Loren Eriksson (Recorder), Jeff Bissonnette, Lindsey Detweiler, Rochelle Silver, Jamie Troy.  (Mr. Bissonnette arrived at approximately 7:00 p.m.)

 

CRC Members Absent:  Lewellyn Robison (excused); Ayoob Ramjan (excused)

 

City staff:  LaVonne Griffin-Valade (City Auditor), Mary-Beth Baptista (IPR Director), Constantin Severe (IPR Assistant Director);  Derek Reinke (IPR Senior Management Analyst)

 

Police Bureau:  Captain Ed Brumfield (IAD)

 

Community/Media:  Dan Handelman (Portland CopWatch and Flying Focus Video), Regina Hannon (Portland CopWatch), Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters), John Campbell, Irene Ogouma (former CRC member), JoAnn Jackson (former CRC member), Mark Kramer (National Lawyers Guild), other unidentified community members

 

Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm, announcing that this was a special meeting to discuss the draft report of the IPR Structure Review Workgroup. 

 

Ms. JoAnn Jackson, Chair of the IPR Structure Review Workgroup, introduced the discussion.  She said that the workgroup membership was comprised of her, Mr. Bigham, Mr. Mark Johnson, and IPR Director Baptista.  The workgroup met over a period of more than nineteen months and had consistent input from the League of Women Voters, Portland CopWatch, and other citizens.  The workgroup reviewed every recommendation in the Luna-Firebaugh Report.  The end result was a comprehensive report that offers recommendations in a number of areas, some of which have already been implemented by Director Baptista and her team.  The recommendations of the workgroup fell within four primary areas:  to improve or streamline the complaint process; to support safeguarding the rights of citizens; to clarify IPR’s powers and duties; and to support and value the citizen oversight of the CRC.  Ms. Jackson confirmed that the workgroup members have reviewed the questions and comments sent in by CRC members.  

 

Discussion:

Report Recommendation: Increase the length of CRC members term to 3 years, and limit service to – two consecutive (full) terms.

Regarding the issue of term limits, Ms. Silver said that she has worked on CRC with long-time members and new members, and she values both.  She does not believe that members who are dedicated and willing to continue to work should be restricted to serving two terms.  Mr. Eriksson and Mr. Miggins were also opposed to term limits.   Mr. Miggins noted that a historical perspective is gained by members remaining on the committee.  Mr. Eriksson and Mr. Miggins said they were also opposed to changing the length of terms from two years to three years.  Director Baptista said she supports the concept of three-year terms because it can take an entire year for CRC members to “get up to speed,” and workgroups generally take at least two years to complete their work.  Mr. Bigham said that he is not adamant on term limits, but he agreed that increasing terms to three years would be beneficial.

 

Mr. Reinke suggested that there need to be better tools for dealing with CRC members who are not participating but fail to resign.  Director Baptista observed that some CRC members have resigned before completing their two-year term.  Mr. Handelman thought that a solution to this problem would be to expand CRC membership to eleven members.  He also suggested that two extra members could be recruited to be “on deck” and fully trained so that if a member resigns, they could move right into the position.

 

Ms. Jackson said she is not as convinced about term limits as she originally was because the composition of CRC has naturally evolved into a well-rounded combination of long-time, mid-time, and new members.  Ms. Aiona was of the opinion that term limits are not necessary since members are required to re-apply when their terms expire. 

 

Ms. Silver made a motion to eliminate the term limit recommendation from the draft report.  Mr. Miggins seconded the motion.  After public comment by Mr. Handelman and Ms. Ogouma and further CRC discussion, the motion passed unanimously.

 

No motion was made to change the workgroup’s recommendation regarding length of terms.

        

Report Recommendation: Increasing Membership of CRC to 11 members

Ms. Silver was opposed to increasing the membership of CRC to eleven members.  Mr. Eriksson agreed with Ms. Silver.  Mr. Miggins said that he had been supportive of increasing CRC to eleven members, but he has changed his mind on this.  Ms. Detweiler thought that having eleven members would allow more community involvement and would help to spread the workload.  Mr. Troy agreed that having eleven members could help with the workload but could also make CRC meetings more chaotic and lengthy.   Mr. Bigham said that he leans slightly toward expanding the membership to eleven.  Ms. Jackson said that the main reason the workgroup recommended expanding the membership was due to workload considerations.  Mr. Handelman noted that PIAAC (the predecessor to CRC) had thirteen members.  He also noted that having eleven members would eliminate the possibility of the City Council nominating a majority of CRC members and would allow for greater diversity.  Ms. Aiona suggested that CRC bring in someone to coach them on how to run tighter, more efficient meetings.  Auditor Griffin-Valade said that a concern about increasing the membership is that more workgroups may be added and the workload may actually increase. 

 

Chair Bigham called for a motion.  Ms. Silver made a motion to change the draft report to continue having a nine-member CRC.  Mr. Eriksson seconded the motion.  The motion carried by a vote of 4-2.

 

Yes: Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

No:  Bigham, Detweiler   

 

Report Recommendation: Change Standard of Evidence to “Preponderance of the Evidence.”

Mr. Miggins said that he supports changing the definition portion of the IPR ordinance to make preponderance of the evidence the standard of proof, as he believes this would make it easier for CRC to arrive at decisions with more clarity.  Mr. Reinke asked if the workgroup considered whether this standard would be appropriate for an appeal situation.  Director Baptista was concerned about assigning legal terminology to a process that is not a legal proceeding.  Ms. Aiona said that it is her experience from watching CRC procedures over the years that the reasonable person standard is confounding to most people.  She noted that the Police Bureau and most civilian oversight agencies use preponderance of the evidence as their standard of proof.  Mr. Handelman thought it would be appropriate to change the standard of proof to preponderance of the evidence.  Mr. Troy agreed that the reasonable person standard is confusing, especially to non-lawyers.  No motion was made to change the workgroup’s recommendation regarding standard of proof.     

 

Report Recommendation: Revert findings back to “Unfounded & Insufficient Evidence”

It was brought to the group’s attention that the body of the workgroup report contained a recommendation that the Police Bureau revert to its previous findings of Unfounded and Insufficient Evidence rather than combining these into the finding of Unproven, but due to a clerical error, this recommendation was not listed with the other recommendations. 

Ms. Silver made a motion to ask the City Council to direct the Police Bureau to have a consistent list of seven findings, the last three being Unfounded, Insufficient Evidence, and Exonerated.  Mr. Miggins seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.   

(Mr. Bissonnette arrived during the discussion and voted on this item.)

 

Ms. Silver made a motion that CRC be given dedicated funds to accomplish its mission.   Mr. Bissonnette seconded the motion.   The motion passed unanimously.  

 

Report Recommendation: Review duties of the Appeal Process Advisor

In reference to the section of the report regarding the Appeal Process Advisor (APA), Mr. Miggins noted that the APA was established by CRC as a tool to help the appellant get through the process, not as an advocate.   Mr. Miggins said that if the APAs were to act as advocates, they could not be an arm of CRC, because that would impugn CRC’s objectivity.  Mr. Troy did not believe that the wording in the workgroup’s recommendation would change the current role of the APA.  No motion was made to change the workgroup’s recommendation regarding the APA. 

 

Clarifications and Additions

Mr. Reinke pointed out that in some instances the report uses incorrect terminology, such as referring to IAD “dismissing” cases rather than “declining to investigate.”  Mr. Reinke also noted that the report makes some recommendations regarding the employee information system that the Police Bureau is already doing and that appear to be “out of sync” with recommendations of other workgroups. 

 

Mr. Eriksson made a motion that the Chair of the PARC Review Workgroup meet with the IPR Structure Workgroup and IPR staff to make the recommendations of the two workgroups consistent regarding the Employee Information System.  Ms. Silver seconded.  The motion passed unanimously. 

 

Mr. Bissonnette discussed the possibility of instituting a protest process for uninvestigated complaints, such as IPR Dismissals, Service Improvement Opportunities, and IAD Declinations.  Mr. Bigham agreed to bring this up to the Stakeholders Committee.  No motion was made to change the workgroup’s recommendation regarding uninvestigated complaints.

 

Mr. Handelman pointed out several typographical errors in the report.  Ms. Jackson agreed to correct these.  

 

Following a suggestion by Mr. Handelman, Mr. Troy made a motion to add to the report a recommendation for an ordinance change giving CRC the power to recommend policy changes directly to the Police Bureau.  The motion passed unanimously.    

 

Mr. Handelman pointed out a typographical error in the report recommending that the time limit on filing a complaint be changed to 90 days.  Director Baptista explained that what the intent of the workgroup was to change the time limit on filing minor complaints from 60 days to 90 days but to leave the time limit on more serious complaints as is.  It was agreed that this error will be corrected in the report.

 

Mr. Mark Kramer of the National Lawyers Guild requested adding to the report a recommendation that the City should empower IPR to investigate police shootings and deaths in custody.   Mr. Bigham said that his recommendation to City Council on this matter was that IPR should have the same monitoring ability for shootings and deaths in custody as they do with other police complaints from day one, including a roll-out.

 

Ms. Silver made a motion to add to the report a recommendation that IPR have the authority to investigate shootings and deaths in custody.  Mr. Bissonnette seconded.  Mr. Bigham stated that this issue will be dealt with when the PARC Review Workgroup report is brought before CRC.  The motion failed by a vote of 3-4.

 

Yes:  Bissonnette, Detweiler, Silver

No:    Bigham, Eriksson, Miggins, Troy 

 

Mr. Kramer suggested that it be mentioned in the IPR Structure Review Workgroup report that CRC will be taking a position on the issue of investigating shootings and deaths in custody in the forthcoming PARC Review Workgroup Report.     

 

Mr. Handelman asked that a recommendation about mediation that was contained in the body of the report be included in the listed recommendations. 

 

Chair Bigham called for a motion to accept the IPR Structure Review Workgroup Report as a whole with the changes agreed upon.  Mr. Eriksson so moved.   Mr. Bissonnette seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously.

 

Ms. Jackson thanked CRC for recognizing how much work had been put into creating this report and expressed her desire that it will result in significant changes.    

She quoted T.S. Elliot:  “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

 

Old Business:  Director Baptista informed CRC that she received a letter from Chief Sizer regarding the appeal challenge that CRC voted to send to City Council.  Chief Sizer stated in the letter that she has decided to accept all of CRC’s recommendations rather than going to City Council. 

 

New Business:  Ms. Silver said that she had her regular meeting with Commissioner Fritz today and informed her about what CRC is doing.   Ms. Silver said that Commissioner Fritz offered to help CRC in communicating their accomplishments to the public and suggested that CRC minutes be linked to her website so that they can be conveyed to more people.

 

Mr. Eriksson reminded CRC members that May is election month for CRC officers.  

 

Mr. Miggins reminded CRC that the Bias-Based Policing Workgroup Report needs to be presented to City Council.  Chair Bigham agreed to arrange for that.

 

Public Comment:  Mr. Handelman was pleased that the Stakeholders Committee will have the IPR Structure Review Workgroup Report to work with.  Mr. Handelman asked when this report will be presented to City Council.  Chair Bigham responded that as soon as the report is rewritten, arrangements will be made to present it to City Council. 

 

Follow-up Comments

 

Mr. Bissonnette thanked the members of the IPR Structure Review Workgroup for all their work and assured them that CRC is committed to continue its work on policy and protocol issues.  

 

Auditor Griffin-Valade again thanked all for their service. 

 

Ms. Jackson advised that the IPR Structure Review Workgroup Report is only a beginning and urged CRC to continue pushing for change. 

 

Mr. Miggins said that the Outreach Workgroup has decided to have another public forum in October.  He asked CRC members to assist in identifying a location for the forum, preferably in Northeast Portland.  

 

Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting at 8:43 p.m.