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July 14, 2010

Minutes

Citizen Review Committee

July 14, 2010

 

Date Approved: August 11, 2010

 

Meeting Location: Lovejoy Room, Portland City Hall

 

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

 

Introductions and Welcome

 

CRC Members Present: Michael Bigham (Chair), Jamie Troy (Vice-Chair), Jeff Bissonnette (Recorder), Lindsey Detweiler, Loren Eriksson, Hank Miggins, Lewellyn Robison, Rochelle Silver

 

CRC Members Absent: Ayoob Ramjan (excused)

           

City staff: LaVonne Griffin-Valade (City Auditor), Mary-Beth Baptista (IPR Director), Constantin Severe (IPR Assistant Director), Michael Hess (IPR), Irene Konev (IPR), Linly Rees (Deputy City Attorney)

 

Police Bureau: Commander Mike Crebs, Captain Ed Brumfield (IAD), Lieutenant Eric Schober (IAD), Sergeant Craig Morgan (IAD Investigator) 

 

Community/Media: Dan Handelman (Portland CopWatch and Flying Focus Video), Regina Hannon (Portland CopWatch), Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters)

 

Appeal Process Advisor:  Sherrelle Owens

 

Approval of Minutes

 

Mr. Eriksson made a motion to approve the minutes of the 5/12 CRC meeting.  Dr. Silver seconded.  The minutes were unanimously approved with no changes. 

 

Dr. Silver made a motion to approve the minutes of the 6/16/10 CRC meeting.  Ms. Robison seconded.  The minutes were approved 7-0 with an abstention by Mr. Miggins, who was not present at the meeting.   (Mr. Eriksson did not attend this meeting, but he stated that he listened to the recording.)

 

Appeal of Case #2009-X-0007 (IPR #2009-C-0125)

 

Chair Bigham read the appeal procedures and ground rules. 

 

Ms. Rees defined the standard of proof for CRC appeal hearings.

 

Mr. Troy and Mr. Bigham were the CRC designees for this appeal.  Mr. Troy presented the case summary, including allegations and findings.

 

The appellant was not present at the beginning of the appeal hearing. 

 

Officer A was not present for the appeal hearing.

 

Officer B was present and spoke on his own behalf.

 

Commander Crebs presented the rationale for the Police Bureau’s findings.

 

The appellant arrived at 6:05 p.m.  Mr. Bigham briefed her on the hearing process.  She then presented on her own behalf. 

 

CRC members asked questions of the appellant and Police Bureau members.

 

Public comment:  Dan Handelman, Regina Hannon, Sherrelle Owens

 

The appellant and the officer made final statements.

 

Each allegation was voted on separately. 

 

Allegation 1.  Officer B blocked Ms. AYERS in a phone booth with his police car.  (CONDUCT)  Finding:  Unproven.

 

Mr. Eriksson made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 1. Ms. Robison seconded the motion.

 

The motion passed unanimously.   

 

Allegation 2.  Officers A and B harassed Ms. AYERS while she was in a phone booth.  (CONDUCT).  Finding:  Unproven 

 

Dr. Silver made a motion to challenge the finding on Allegation 2 and recommend changing the finding to Sustained.  Mr. Eriksson seconded.   

 

The motion failed by a vote of 7-1.

 

Yes:  Silver

 

No:  Bigham, Bissonnette, Detweiler, Eriksson, Miggins, Robison, Troy

 

Mr. Troy made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 2.  Mr. Bissonnette seconded.

 

The motion passed by a vote of 7-1.     

 

Yes:  Bigham, Bissonnette, Detweiler, Eriksson, Miggins, Robison, Troy

 

No:  Silver

 

Allegation 3.  Officer B laughed at the appellant when the witness (the appellant’s boyfriend) told the officers that the appellant was afraid of the police.  (COURTESY)

Finding:  Unproven.

 

Mr. Miggins made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 3.  Ms. Robison seconded.

 

The motion passed unanimously.

 

Allegation 4.  After the appellant had refused to give Officer B consent to search her, he asked her to lift up her shirt so he could see her waistline.  (CONDUCT) Finding:  Unproven.

 

Mr. Eriksson made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 4.  Mr. Miggins seconded.

 

The motion passed unanimously.

 

Allegation 5. Officers A and B failed to call for a supervisor when requested by the witness.  (PROCEDURE)  Finding:  Unproven.

 

Ms. Robison made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 5.  Mr. Miggins seconded.

 

The motion passed unanimously.

 

Allegation 6. Officer A has pulled the witness and the appellant over several times over the past several months for petty things.  (CONDUCT)

 

Ms. Robison made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 5.  Ms. Detweiler seconded.

 

The motion passed unanimously.

 

The consensus of CRC members was that all of the Police Bureau’s findings were reasonable in that there was no way to prove or disprove the allegations based on the available information.

 

Policy Discussion Relating to the Appeal

 

Chair Bigham asked why there was an allegation that the officers failed to call for a supervisor when there is no PPB policy directing them to do so.  Director Baptista said that there have been ongoing discussions about tying allegations to specific PPB policies, and efforts will be made to do so from now on. Chair Bigham also requested that allegations involving more than one officer be separated out for each individual officer.

 

Ms. Detweiler thought that there was a disconnect between CRC’s standard of review and how the Police Bureau makes its findings without making credibility decisions on the parties involved in the complaint.  Dr. Silver suggested that there be more effort by the investigators to identify an unbiased third party who could break the deadlock on “he said, she said” type complaints. 

 

Mr. Eriksson brought up the issue of mere conversation and asked how CRC is going to address this.  Director Baptista stated that there is a  Supreme Court ruling that mere conversation is permissible to law enforcement.  Ms. Detweiler pointed out that it is important to talk about what was said and done by officers rather than drawing the conclusion that the behavior was “mere conversation.”   Ms. Robison said that the problem is not mere conversation per se but the need for de-escalation, given that some persons feel threatened by the mere presence of a police officer.  Captain Brumfield suggested that someone from the City Attorney’s Office be brought in to present to CRC the legal concepts surrounding mere conversation.  Mr. Bissonnette agreed that that would be helpful, but he also wanted to hear community perceptions of this issue.

Dr. Silver said that she sees this as a training issue and that police officers need to be taught to consider the totality of circumstances in how they handle their encounters with different people.  Mr. Troy noted that mere conversation and pretext stops lead to a lot of police complaints, and he would like a better understanding of what training the officers are being given in this regard.  Ms. Robison asked for CRC to decide if they want to put this issue on the Tracking List or form a new workgroup.  Assistant Director Severe said that issue of police stops, mere conversation are among the topics being considered for a CRC training that is being developed for later this year.

 

Mr. Eriksson moved that the issue of mere conversation be placed on the Training List.  Mr. Troy seconded.  Mr. Handelman and Ms. Aiona provided public comment.  The motion passed unanimously. 

 

Mr. Miggins stated that Ms. Owens’ public comment during the appeal hearing was a violation of the current protocol regarding Appeal Process Advisors.  Chair Bigham stated that it was his decision to allow the comment.  Mr. Eriksson suggested that the Appeal Workgroup consider this matter in the course of its work.  

 

Ms. Robison asked if it is a concern to CRC that there is no policy requiring officers to call for a supervisor when requested.   Mr. Miggins said that he is concerned about it.  Commander Crebs said that supervisors in the precincts are encouraged to have their officers call them if there is a problem that the supervisor can help them with.  No further action was requested on this matter.

 

Mr. Troy asked for confirmation that tonight’s appellant had been advised that she could have access to a volunteer advocate.  Director Baptista confirmed that the appellant was advised about the availability of a volunteer advocate in the letter informing her that an appeal hearing had been scheduled.  Ms. Baptista said that in the future, this information will be provided to complainants at the time that the appeal form is mailed to them, and they will be informed that they need to contact the National Lawyers Guild no less than two weeks prior to the hearing.   

 

Director’s Report

 

Independent Police Review Division (IPR) Work Plan and Accomplishments: 

 

On 7/14/10 CRC Chair Bigham, former CRC member Mark Johnson Roberts, and Director Baptista presented the “Citizen Review Committee Report on the Structure of the Independent Police Review Division” to Portland City Council.

 

Director Baptista has been working collaboratively with the Police Bureau to ensure that the IPR Ordinance is being fully implemented, including submission of a Request for Proposal for a facilitator for the newly formed Police Review Board. 

 

IPR Community Outreach:

 

On June 26 Mr. Ramjan, Ms. Robison, and Community Outreach Coordinator Irene Konev held a forum with the members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  On June 30 Mr. Eriksson, Dr. Silver, and Ms. Konev attended the Oregon Native American Chamber Luncheon.  IPR Investigator Hess and Ms. Konev made a Spanish language presentation to a Hispanic community group.  Ms. Konev attended the Good in the Neighborhood event, networked with the immigrant community at the Center for Intercultural Organizing Fundraising Dinner, made a presentation to Asian Affairs, and provided outreach to Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, African American Health Coalition, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and the Q Center.  She also planned a presentation to four high school classrooms at Self Enhancement Inc.  Ms. Konev arranged for IPR Investigator Hess to meet with a complainant in the safe space of an organization in lieu of conducting the interview over the phone or at City Hall. 

 

IPR and IAD Caseloads:  See caseload tables in IPR Director’s Report. 

 

Appeals:  IPR #2009-C-0085 / Appeal #2010-X-0001: A timely appeal has been filed by the officer in this case. 

 

CRC Chair’s Report

 

The PARC Workgroup report will be presented to City Council on July 15 at 3:00 p.m.   There will be a Stakeholder Committee meeting on the morning of July 15.  All are welcome to attend. 

 

Workgroup Reports

 

Appeal Workgroup (Mr. Troy):  Last meeting was 6/21. Mr. Severe has offered to prepare the workgroup minutes.  The Appeal Workgroup has drafted a protocol regarding Case File Reviews.  The draft will be discussed at the next workgroup meeting.  The next meeting will be on 7/19 from 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m. in Mr. Troy’s office. 

 

Outreach Workgroup (Mr. Miggins):  Last meeting was 7/13. The workgroup continues to work on the action plan and the next community forum on 10/28 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Kaiser Permanente Town Hall on Interstate Boulevard.  The next workgroup meeting will be on 8/10 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

 

Protocol Workgroup (Mr. Miggins):  Has not met since last month’s meeting.  The workgroup will continue to work on outstanding protocol issues.  The next meeting will be on 7/15 at Mr. Troy’s office.   

 

Recurring Audit Workgroup (Ms. Robison for Mr. Ramjan):  The workgroup met on 7/13 and reviewed the work that had been completed on Service Improvement Opportunities.  The workgroup found that in general the case files were complete, allegations were addressed, and procedures were followed.  The workgroup considered possible CRC involvement in case handling decisions on Service Improvement Opportunities and ways to address the concerns of persons who are unhappy with the handling of their complaints in this manner.  The next meeting will be on the first Tuesday in August at 5:00 p.m.

 

Taser/Less Lethal Force Workgroup (Mr. Bigham):  Last meeting was June 22.  The workgroup has begun reviewing cases involving use of Tasers and less lethal force.  Next meeting will be on 7/16 at 4:00 p.m. 

 

Tracking List

 

Ms. Robison has asked the CRC Chair to consider having a separate meeting to discuss the Tracking List.  The meeting date has not yet been decided.  

 

Old Business

 

Mr. Troy said that IAD was able to obtain the 911 call made by the appellant of last month’s appeal hearing.  Captain Brumfield explained that the appellant’s cell phone is an older cell phone and for some reason that phone, unbeknownst to the owner, forwarded the 911 call through another number.  A follow-up search resulted in the call being found.  A recording of the call is available for any CRC member who would like to listen to it.  Captain Brumfield said that the finding of the 911 call does not change the finding.   

 

CRC agreed to schedule the Case File Review for the next appeal at the 8/11 CRC meeting.  The full hearing will tentatively be scheduled for the September meeting, depending on the outcome of the Case File Review.

 

Mr. Eriksson asked when the OIR Report on the Chasse investigation is due to be released.  Auditor Griffin-Valade said that the report will be issued soon and will be presented to City Council at their 6:00 p.m. meeting on July 28. 

 

Dr. Silver asked about the status of CRC’s proposed change of findings on last months appeal.  Director Baptista reported that she intends to get the letter to IAD sent to Mr. Bigham and Mr. Troy by Friday.  

 

Ms. Robison said that there was never a policy discussion on a previous appeal case. 

(2006-C-0475/2009-X-0005).  Chair Bigham decided to put this on the agenda of next month’s meeting.

 

New Business

 

None

 

Public Comment

 

Ms. Hannon supported Chair Bigham’s decision to let the Appeal Process Advisor make a public comment at tonight’s meeting. 

 

Ms. Aiona recommended that CRC compare the current IPR Annual Report to previous annual reports and give their feedback to IPR about the report.  Ms. Aiona also said that she hopes there will be an opportunity for public testimony on the night that the OIR report is presented to City Council.  Auditor Griffin-Valade said that she has requested this. 

 

Wrap-up Comments  

 

Auditor Griffin-Valade expressed appreciation for the Police Bureau’s participation in the policy discussion following the appeal hearing.

 

Adjournment

 

Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting at 9:00 p.m.