Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
DECEMBER 12, 1996
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; David Burney, Deborah
Haring, Emily Simon, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Randy Weisberg
Citizen Advisors Absent: Marina Anttila, Etta Baker, Todd Olson, Robert
Peterson, Robert Wells
City Staff Present: Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City
Attorney; Diane Linn, Director - Office of Neighborhood Associations
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. He introduced Diane Linn, Director of the
Office of Neighborhood Associations, who was on hand to provide an update about
the Police-Citizen Mediation Project. She said that in the 3 years since the
pilot project began, PPB has sent 40 cases to the Neighborhood Mediation Center.
Of those, ten will have gone through mediation by late 1996 or early 1997.
Twenty others have been closed out for various reasons -- one party changed
their mind, the complainant could not be contacted, etc. Ten other cases are in
the mediation pipeline.
From 7/1/95 - 6/30/96, NMC received more than 850 cases altogether, and
closed out 650 of those. Mediation involves a lot of case development.
Volunteers are now being used for the Police-Citizen mediations and evaluations
from completed cases have been very positive.
PPB and NMC have discussed how much case development should go into these
mediations and what a reasonable deadline should be for complainants to make
themselves available for mediations. Measure 47 will force efficiency but NMC
does not plan to ask for more funding.
Weisberg distributed his recommended guidelines for NMC. He said he was
disappointed in the the two previous NMC presentations to the advisory
committee. One of his recommendations was a 60-day turnover time, which Ueland
said was the same number the Monitoring Subcommittee was considering. Ueland
said that advisors had not planned to determine standards, but when the last
quarterly monitoring report was presented to Council, the commissioners asked
what advisors expected of the NMC since case completion seemed to be a problem.
Linn agreed that NMC needs clear standards regarding case completion, although
flexibility will be needed in some cases. She stated that a 60-day turnover time
Wagner said that the NMC staff did not talk about timelines with advisors.
For example, how soon are citizens and officers contacted after NMC receives the
initial case file? Linn responded that a new database program should help track
these statistics. Volume has proven overwhelming.
Ford asked for an update at the January citizen advisor's meeting. Linn
Linn suggested using Weisberg's guidelines in draft form, with final
guidelines to be presented to the Mayor jointly with the advisory committee. She
was concerned about a sentence in the guidelines that talked about looking
elsewhere for mediation services if the guidelines were not implemented by
January. Part of her challenge is the uncertainty of funding issues. Ueland said
that advisors don't want to "drop the hammer" but need an answer. Other advisors
said that when Linn knows more about the funding situation, she should be open
about what caseload is manageable under the guidelines. Simon said that if there
are problems with case management, advisors won't just say "that's that."
Linn said she had not been aware that advisors had wanted reports; Ueland
said advisors didn't know either until it became apparent that there was a
bottleneck somewhere in the process. Linn invited advisors to call her if any
had further questions.
Weisberg moved to adopt the guidelines and present them to NMC for a
response; Ueland seconded. The motion carried [Y-6; Abstain-Ford].
No appeals were heard. Advisors discussed various "housekeeping" issues.
1. Mission Statement:
The citizen advisors do not have a specific mission statement. About a year
ago, the idea first came up but nothing further was done. Several advisors feel
that a mission statement would be useful; many organizations have one to help
stay focused. Simon did not believe the panel needs a mission statement because
their "mission" is set out in City Code and the PIIAC by-laws. She said the
advisory committee is the best it's been in a long time. Simon also said that
she did not wish to create an inadvertent impression that advisors are deciding
on their own what their mission is.
Ueland agreed but said he had no desire to expand on or take away from
advisors' mission. A mission statement might help prevent misunderstandings such
as when advisors occasionally "wander off" on their own. One example is when an
advisor independently contacts Bureau personnel on matters unrelated to IAD
Wagner and Weisberg both said they saw no need for a mission statement.
Haring said that a mission statement or something similar could be devised for
the benefit of appellants. Botsko said materials sent to appellants provide a
brief description of what PIIAC does and does not do, but some appellants still
have unrealistic expectations.
Burney moved to set the matter over for further discussion; Weisberg
Ford said the motion to table could carry without further vote. Advisors were
not certain so took a vote. The motion carried [Y-6, N-Simon].
2. Creation of Ground Rules:
This was an agenda item but Ueland proposed keeping this discussion with the
previous one. Advisors were agreeable.
3. Additional Outreach:
Ford said that the occasional advisory meetings held in the community were
useful, but wondered what else could be done to let people know what the panel
Simon said that too much time is spent on appeals at the outreach meetings,
particularly last month's. Observers don't have much time to provide input and
advisors need to hear people's perceptions.
Advisors suggested trying to get cable access media, OPB or one of the local
TV stations to do a nicely produced program on what PIIAC does. Advisors should
volunteer to talk to the Neighborhood Coalitions. Burney said advisors need to
be reporting back to their appointing bodies; several advisors said they
routinely do that. Wagner's appointing body, Southeast Uplift, even rescheduled
the PSAC meetings so Wagner could attend.
Botsko said she has addressed various community groups about PIIAC, such as
the League of Women Voters, Hispanic Services Roundtable, and a social worker
professional group. She is willing to meet with various groups. Ford said that
Botsko as staff should not be the only person to do this; advisors need to
participate and accompany Botsko. Botsko also said she is distributing quarterly
reports to all Chief's Forum members, and addressed the Forum's agenda committee
about the possibility of doing short quarterly presentations. She distributes
PIIAC materials (minutes, agendas and quarterly reports) to PPB administrative
staff, including division and precinct commanders, but would like to provide
more information to other PPB personnel. A PIIAC web page linked to the Mayor's
website might be one way to accomplish that because attending evening meetings
can be burdensome for people. Ueland asked Botsko to research costs involved
Ford agreed; he said that many PPB members do not have a clear idea about
PIIAC. For example, he was recently approached by a sergeant who did not
appreciate comments in a Todd Olson memo that was quoted in a newspaper article
about Commander Garvey. Ford had a very nice discussion with the sergeant about
PIIAC's current status, and did explain that the memo was not representative of
the panel. The sergeant was also surprised to learn that no one from the PPA
regularly attended citizen advisory meetings.
4. Meeting Attendance:
Ford asked advisors to renew their commitment to the panel. Attendance and
tardiness has started to become a problem. Simon said that attendance problems
are minor compared to what they were several years ago; Wagner was surprised to
hear this as she thinks absenteeism is excessive even now. Simon recommended
amending the by-laws to include a maximum number of no-shows allowed. Botsko
said the Mayor supports this; currently the by-laws refer only to unexcused
absences, but say nothing about chronic absences with notice. Ford asked Ueland
if the Monitoring Subcommittee could develop a proposal. Ueland agreed.
5. Time Limit on Appeals:
Ford asked advisors not to spend a lot of meeting time discussing minor
details in reports. Wagner said that the content of an advisors' summary will
depend on the complexity of a case. Ueland suggested using the monitoring
worksheet for regular appeals; he finds the worksheet helpful in summarizing the
cases. Simon said that she preferred having information beyond just a worksheet;
in the past, before audit reports were being prepared, the worksheet approach
did not work well because advisors did not receive enough information about
cases. It is not enough to just say "yes" to a question like "was the
investigation thorough?" Botsko suggested that executive summaries be attached
to future audit reports.
Haring requested that when advisors summarize cases, they refrain from
injecting personal opinions. She also suggested that advisors who are unprepared
to discuss their assigned cases inform Botsko, so Botsko could do the summary
Wagner suggested taking appeals out of order to accommodate those appellants
in attendance. Too many cases were scheduled on last month's agenda.
6. Protocol re: Media Contacts:
Ford said he was not pleased with the "Garvey case" newspaper article that
quoted Todd Olson as a member of the citizen advisory committee. Wagner said
that advisors who speak to the media should not try to represent the entire
committee. She resented the fact that the article tainted the entire advisory
committee; the reader had no way to know that advisors had not discussed or
endorsed Olson's memo.
Ueland suggested the committee designate a spokesperson. Burney said that
advisors should refrain from commenting altogether. Simon had mixed feelings
about the issue. She said that several years ago, she made "unauthorized"
comments to the media regarding the Laurelhurst case. In hindsight, she does not
know whether that was the right thing to do, but when people are frustrated they
will do what they think is right. She was uncomfortable with the idea of a
designated spokesperson because PIIAC exists to provide information to the
public; the panel should not shut the media out. She recommended that advisors
refrain from commenting outside of the public forum in which the panel operates.
Ueland said that establishing guidelines is fruitless if someone is bent on
being sneaky. Ford said he was not sure if staff should always act as
spokesperson, but requested that advisors be careful what they say to the media,
bearing in mind that they are viewed as representatives of the entire group. He
asked Brockman for her view on things advisors had discussed.
Brockman said that she is in favor of a Mission Statement. With regard to
media contacts, the city does not establish a gag rule in the event someone
thinks there are problems with a group. That person should be free to discuss
what may be in the public's best interest to know. She asked that advisors bear
in mind that they can be held legally liable for comments made outside of the
public group process.
She referred to another question on the agenda, whether appellants should
receive copies of the same draft audit reports that advisors receive. She said
that the PIIAC process is gratuitous -- it does not proceed to the court level
-- so it enjoys a greater degree of flexibility. This is not a legal question,
it is one of fairness. Ford tabled the topic for discussion at a later date.
He thanked advisors for the open discussion.
Wagner announced that she had graduated from the Police Bureau's Citizens
Academy. She said it was a great learning experience and suggested that everyone
Simon said she liked the way Ford was chairing the meetings and asked him to
consider continuing. Botsko said elections for a new chair will be held in
Handelman addressed the panel. He encouraged the review of changes to PIIAC.
He was also wondering about mediation cases in which one party ultimately backs
out. He would be interested in knowing how often each side backed out.
He mentioned advisors' use of the word "citizen" in that a complainant might
not be a citizen.
He said he addressed City Council following the most recent quarterly
monitoring report presentation. He told City Council about the Chief's Forum's
failure to schedule PIIAC monitoring reports on the agenda.
He said that his group's [People Overseeing Police Study Group] publication,
"Police Report," will be coming out soon.
The meeting adjourned.