Citizen Review Committee
July 13, 2011
Date Approved: August 10, 2011
Meeting Location: Lovejoy Room, 2nd Floor, Portland City Hall
Chair Troy called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm.
Introductions and Welcome
Citizen Review Committee (CRC) Members Present: Michael Bigham (Vice-Chair), Jeff Bissonnette (Recorder), Loren Eriksson, Andre Pruitt, Rochelle Silver, Jamie Troy (Chair)
CRC Member Absent: Hank Miggins (excused), Ayoob Ramjan (excused), Steve Yarosh (excused)
City staff: Mary-Beth Baptista, Director, Independent Police Review (IPR); Constantin Severe, IPR Assistant Director
Police Bureau: Captain Dave Famous, Internal Affairs (IA); Commander Bob Day, Training Division
Community/Media: Dan Handelman (Portland Copwatch and Flying Focus Video), Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters), Carol Cushman (League of Women Voters), Regina Hannon (Portland Copwatch), Denis Theriault (Portland Mercury); Maxine Bernstein (The Oregonian); other Portland community members
Approval of Minutes of the 6/8/11CRC Meeting
Mr. Eriksson made a motion to approve the minutes of the 6/8/11 CRC meeting. Dr. Silver seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Discussion of CRC Review of the Lindsay Hunt Case
Mr. Matthew Ellis, Ms. Hunt’s attorney, presented his impressions of the Portland Police Bureau’s investigation of Ms. Hunt’s case. Mr. Ellis maintained that the investigation should not have been conducted by the involved officer’s precinct. He also stated that the investigation was untimely and that several civilians who were integral to the investigation were not interviewed.
Following Mr. Ellis’s presentation, Commander Day, Captain Famous, and Director Baptista responded to questions by CRC members.
Mr. Bigham said that he found the investigation was inadequate. He pointed out that the commander who made the decisions was also doing the investigation, and that a sergeant who was involved as a witness was also engaged in conducting the investigation. He questioned why the decision was made by the precinct commander to conduct the investigation at the precinct rather than referring it to Internal Affairs (IA).
Captain Famous responded that in 2007, when this case was initiated, it was an option for the precinct commander to initiate a performance investigation of this nature. Captain Famous noted that this is not the current practice.
Captain Famous explained the current process, which has been in effect since the 2010 ordinance changes, is as follows:
Performance investigations are used to address deficiencies such as poor work performance or minor work rule violations and should generally be conducted within the precinct. All performance investigations are to be numbered and tracked by the Professional Standards Division. A performance investigation is not to be used as a substitute for an Internal Affairs investigation in cases of serious alleged misconduct or an allegation involving a citizen complaint. Commanders are responsible for the initiation of investigations of allegations of performance deficiency. However, before initiating a performance investigation, the commander must first consult with the Captain of the Professional Standards Division or his or her designee to determine whether or not the case should be handled as a performance investigation or administrative (Internal Affairs) investigation. If the Captain of the Professional Standards Division agrees that the case should be handled as a performance investigation, a case number is assigned. If a community member is involved in the case, it is automatically an administrative investigation. If there is any question whether or not a case should be handled as an administrative investigation rather than a performance investigation, the IPR Director or Assistant Director is consulted. Currently there is no question that serious allegations of misconduct will be investigated by Internal Affairs, and the IPR Director will have complete access to the investigation.
Director Baptista explained that prior to the 2010 ordinance changes IPR’s role and involvement in performance cases and bureau-initiated cases were solely at the discretion of the Police Bureau. Due to the 2010 ordinance changes, IPR currently has complete oversight authority in every case, regardless of who is involved, what the case is designated as, or where the case originates.
Mr. Bigham expressed an additional concern that officers on probation who brought forward complaints against their field training officers or other officers may have felt intimidated by the way their complaints were handled.
Director Baptista clarified that with the 2010 ordinance change, Police Bureau members are now permitted to go through IPR with their complaints. They no longer are required to go through Internal Affairs. The IPR Director is currently given the opportunity to present to new officers at the Advanced Academy about IPR procedures and how they may access IPR for filing complaints.
Commander Day commented that some of the current systems were not in place when Ms. Hunt’s concerns were brought forward, so she did not have the benefit of some of the procedures that are in place now.
Mr. Bissonnette asked if the changes that have come about were driven by the passage of the 2010 ordinance changes.
Director Baptista reaffirmed that prior to the 2010 ordinance changes, IPR had no authority over performance cases or bureau-initiated cases, and handling of these cases was driven by Police Bureau directives. Due to 2010 ordinance changes, various types of complaints have been reclassified, meaning the Police Bureau has had to update several of its directives. Director Baptista explained that IPR has the same authority to review and approve performance cases as it does in all cases. IPR determines whether or not the precinct has done an adequate investigation and may send it back for further investigation, initiate and conduct an independent investigation, or recommend that an administrative investigation be conducted by Internal Affairs. IPR also has the authority to concur or controvert the commander’s disposition recommendation. If the performance investigation uncovers a serious matter, IPR may trigger a review by the Police Review Board for a disciplinary finding.
Dr. Silver said that she understands that there have been significant changes in the system as a result of the 2010 ordinance changes, but she asked if the current system allows complainants to be seriously heard without their credibility being questioned.
Director Baptista responded that it is IPR’s responsibility to reach out to both the Police Bureau and the community to explain the process and to be more accessible. She said that an important first step in this direction was having IPR speak directly to the officers in the Advanced Academy apart from Internal Affairs and to make it perfectly clear to them that they can go directly to IPR with their complaints and that their complaints may be made anonymously. Director Baptista also pointed out that in recent years IPR has consistently made recommendations to IA investigators to interview all civilian witnesses whenever possible. IPR has also interviewed civilian witnesses in recent cases and appeals when the civilian does not feel comfortable interacting with the Police Bureau/IA investigators. She said that IPR investigators are currently communicating more with complainants and witnesses before the case is referred to Internal Affairs. She also noted that IPR investigators now travel to various locations throughout the Portland area to meet with complainants who feel uncomfortable about coming to City Hall. IPR and IA are also addressing the timeliness of investigations, and IPR and IA communications with complainants when cases are completed have been significantly enhanced.
Captain Famous offered the following summation:
“I think that there has been a shift, and part of it within the [Police] Bureau, in that we have recent examples of officers calling directly over to IPR and not going through Internal Affairs. I think the other thing is that when we compare the evolution of this whole process, from 2007 to present, that the quality of the investigations, I believe, has tremendously improved. The quality of the actual investigative summary, the way we craft and actually write that summary, has changed and has improved and provides more clarity. It used to be more a bullet point form, now it’s in a narrative form. As Director Baptista has said, Internal Affairs, along with IPR approval of when we explain to complainants how the investigation was resolved, and how the commander came to his or her finding, I think we’re doing a better job, and I think part of that is a result of we don’t have a lot of appeals. I think we have fewer appeals now, and partly I think part of that feedback or credibility, if you will, is that I believe we’re doing a broader and fairer and more impartial investigation…. I think that commanders are also writing better findings today. To compare findings of 2011 and 2007, there is a dramatic improvement, and I still think that – I know there may be a difference of opinion of why we may or may not be receiving appeals – I think that speaks to that, that people are understanding, that they can read the document, that they’re more willing to call if they have questions. And I believe that the organization’s credibility continues to improve.”
The discussion ended with public comments.
Director’s Report (Director Baptista)
Independent Police Review (IPR) Division Work Plan / Accomplishments:
Director Baptista has returned to full time work status.
In March, the Portland Police Bureau finalized the Standard Operating Procedure that defines the process for notifying IPR of incidents involving the use of deadly force by an officer and in-custody deaths. During the two most recent incidents, IPR Assistant Director Severe received prompt notification and responded directly to the scene, where he was briefed by the Commander of the Detective Division. He also attended the “day after incident” Chief’s briefings and will continue to monitor the progress of the investigations.
IPR staff members have spent considerable time complying with an extensive discovery demand from the US Justice Department for its civil rights review of the Portland Police Bureau. The IPR Director and Assistant Directors will be interviewed by Justice Department officials the first week of August. CRC Vice-Chair Michael Bigham is scheduled for a separate interview the same week.
Ordinance 183995 established a Police Review Board, 3.20.140. The new Board process has a Public Reports component. Section I of the ordinance requires published public reports twice annually. In compliance with this ordinance, the first installment of the memorandums was posted on the Police Bureau’s website. Copies have been provided to CRC members and to the public.
IPR Community Outreach Coordinator Irene Konev worked with the City Auditor and Teffini Penson (Mayor’s Office) to recruit and hire an intern from the Summer Youth Connect Program. Lawashia Smith began her 8-week internship on 7/11/11. She will work with Ms. Konev to connect IPR to the youth of Portland and provide feedback on improvements to IPR’s outreach material. The goal of the program is to expose the youth of Portland’s diverse community to career opportunities while enhancing academic and marketable skills.
IPR Community Outreach
Ms. Konev met with program directors of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, to explain the powers and duties of IPR and CRC and to recruit new CRC members. She met with staff members of the Hispanic Yellow Pages and networked at Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. She attended the Gang Task Force meeting and the Citywide Public Involvement Network meeting. She partnered with Koffi Dessou of the Office of Human Relations and facilitated 24 hours of inter-group dialogue on racism in Portland.
IPR and IAD Caseloads: See Director’s Report.
CRC Chair’s Report (Chair Troy)
In June a community public forum was held in Northeast Portland.
Dr. Silver withdrew her proposal for a James Chasse Jr. memorial.
Mr. Bissonnette has completed the reorganization of the Tracking List.
Dr. Silver reminded CRC members of the upcoming meeting of the Community Police Relations Committee.
Chair Troy met with Mayor Adams and discussed with him CRC’s desire to move toward recommended ordinance changes. Chair Troy, Vice-Chair Bigham, and Director Baptista plan to have a meeting to review and prioritize the recommended ordinance changes. The meeting will be open to the public.
The Appeals Workgroup has drafted two competing versions of Protocol PSF-5.21 Appeal Process Advisor. After Chair Troy presented the proposed changes, CRC discussed both versions in preparation for a vote at next month’s CRC meeting. Mr. Handelman, Ms. Hannon, and Ms. Aiona provided public comment.
Appeals Workgroup (Mr. Troy): The next meeting is scheduled for 7/26/11 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Mr. Troy’s office.
Outreach Workgroup (Dr. Silver): Last meeting was 7/13/11. The workgroup discussed the last public forum and discussed ways to better reach the community for future forums. The next workgroup meeting is scheduled for 8/2/11 at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Recruitment and Retention Workgroup (Mr. Bigham): The next meeting date has not yet been determined, but will be within the next two weeks.
Protocol Workgroup: The Protocol Workgroup continues to be in suspension pending City Council’s consideration of the Stakeholder Committee recommendations.
Recurring Audit Workgroup (Mr. Bissonnette): The workgroup has not met since the last CRC meeting, but will be meeting in the next couple of weeks.
Taser/Less-lethal Force Workgroup (Mr. Bigham): Last meeting was on 7/12/11. The next meeting is scheduled for 8/2/11 at 1:30 p.m. in the Auditor’s Conference Room.
Mr. Handelman would like IPR to conduct an independent investigation; he addressed perceived gender issues in the Police Bureau.
Ms. Aiona appreciated the way the CRC review of the Lindsay Hunt case was conducted. Given the small number of appeals, she suggested that it would be beneficial for CRC to review other closed cases.
Chair Troy adjourned the meeting at 8:50 p.m.