NOVEMBER 13, 1997
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; David
Burney, Les Frank, Deborah Haring, Stephen Heck, Leora Mahoney, Emily Simon;
Robert Ueland, Randy Weisberg
Citizen Advisors Absent: Jim Taylor, Robert Wells
City Staff Present: Elise Anfield, Mayor's Office; Capt. Bill Bennington,
IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, City Attorney's Office; Mayor
Vera Katz; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Larry Siewert, Mayor's Office; Sgt. John
Media Present: David Anderson, The Oregonian
Ford introduced Leora Mahoney, who will be representing North Portland
Neighborhood Office. He also arranged for advisors to bring a potluck dish at
the December advisory meeting.
Ford called the meeting to order. Simon requested a couple of corrections to
the October minutes, and advisors approved them as amended.
#97-18: Heck and Botsko updated the committee about their participation in a
Bureau Review Level Committee meeting. Heck said that he had expressed concern
about advisors involvement in an EEO case. Botsko said this case involved a
Portland police officer, against whom a courtesy allegation had been sustained
for an alleged improper remark to the complainant. Advisors had previously
requested that the Review Level Committee reconsider the finding, after noting
that the investigative summary did not fully or accurately capture that an
officer's testimony in the case.
Review Level members received a transcript of that officer's entire
testimony. Nevertheless, they voted to uphold the previous finding. Assistant
Chief Prunk, the only member who had been present in the original Review
meeting, had explained the rationale for sustaining. He believed that the
witness officer sufficiently corroborated the complainant's allegation, and that
his contradictions were a result of discomfort. Bureau culture makes it
difficult for officers to be fully forthcoming in saying anything negative about
another officer. Review level members had seen the courtesy allegation as part
of an overall pattern, with other allegations.
Botsko said that she had discussed with the Review Level Committee the fact
that none of the other allegations against Officer A had been proven, or
sustained. Evidently, the existence of these other allegations, even though not
sustained, was used to gauge Officer A's credibility with respect to the
courtesy allegation. Botsko said that the existence of other, similar
allegations can be useful in assessing the likelihood that something occurred,
but this is not handled in a uniform manner with citizen-initiated complaints.
Regardless of whether PIIAC ever again audits an EEO case, this one had some
deficiencies, and the monitoring subcommittee wished to comment about how EEO
cases are handled in an upcoming monitoring report. The committee agreed to
Simon made a motion to affirm PPB's original findings; Weisberg seconded. The
motion carried [Y-9 ; Abstain-Mahoney].
PIIAC #97-13: The other case discussed before Review Level was contrasted
with #97-18. In that case, advisors wanted PPB to look at the overall pattern of
that officer's handling of a particular incident. The officer ultimately found
himself in a bit of a tactical dilemma, which led to his using "distraction
blows" to disengage himself. During deliberations, it was evident that not all
Review Level Committee members were aware of previous, similar complaints in
which this officer had used "distraction blows." Botsko said that while it was
not appropriate for a complaint to be sustained solely because similar ones
existed, the history can, in fact, be a useful tool in gauging credibility --
just as it was in #97-18.
Review Level committee members voted to uphold the original findings,
exonerating the officer for use of force and procedure (which was modified from
the previous category of "Performance." Botsko had noted that the complaint
categories used do not quite dovetail with those used by IAD.
Botsko and Heck were told that even if a complaint is not sustained, that
doesn't mean the officer did everything perfectly. Supervisors can discuss these
issues with officers regardless of the outcome of a case. Botsko had asked the
officer's commander if that had been done with the officer in this particular
case. It had not.
Simon said that the officer involved in this complaint was the same as in
PIIAC Appeal #96-09. The complainant was arrested for jaywalking, and the
encounter ultimately escalated to the point where the officer used "distraction
blows." Simon said that the officer's rationale and description of the blow were
identical in both cases.
She was concerned about the officer's "glaring error" of reaching into a
motor vehicle when the engine was still running. She was also concerned about
PPB's reliance on deposition testimony in evaluating this complaint. The
questions in the advisors' report were not answered: Did the officer use the
least amount of force necessary? Did the officer do anything to exacerbate the
situation, to the point force became unavoidable?
Simon made a motion to set the case over until January, in order that the
advisors re-read the case thoroughly and the appellant appear. Anttila seconded.
The motion carried [Y-9; N-Heck].
Simon requested that Botsko also provide copies of #96-09 to advisors before
Capt. Bennington said that the Chief has not seen this particular complaint
before, but had yet to review it. Therefore, the motion might be premature in
the event that he changes the finding.
PIIAC Appeal #97-19: Botsko summarized. (The appellant was not in
attendance.) After preliminary review, IAD declined further investigation of the
The appellant was conducting business at the PPB's Records Office, when his
name came up on the computer as potentially having an active warrant issued from
another state. The clerk summoned uniformed officers, who detained him, took him
to the precinct office in the Justice Center, had him remove his shirt to check
for tattoos, and then photographed him. When police determined that the wanted
person (with similar name and date of birth) was not the appellant, they
released him. The appellant was protesting the entire incident, and also claimed
that at some point officers had pushed him against an elevator wall.
Botsko said with the exception of possible use of force, everything he had
described was standard procedure. Officers wrote up a subsequent informational
report, advising of the similarities with the wanted person, but that they were
not to be confused. Simon asked how much weight did the appellant place on the
force allegations? Botsko said not much, he mentioned it almost as an
afterthought. His main concern seemed to be the detention.
Ueland made a motion to affirm PPB's declination. Simon seconded. The motion
carried unanimously. [Y-10].
Weisberg commented on the letter of disposition. He felt more explanation
would have been helpful.
PIIAC #97-20: Botsko summarized. After preliminary review, IAD had
declined further investigation.
The appellant was returning from some errands, to where her car was parked
alongside a curb. She noticed a sports car had parked behind her, creating a
very tight fit. The appellant gauged the distance, and believed she had just
enough room to get out. She determined that if she touched the car, it would be
at the license plate area. Not until she was inside her car did she notice, in
her rear-view mirror, that someone [Officer A] was in the sports car. She did in
fact "touch" the vehicle, but denies that it was any sort of accident or
As she began to pull away, the person was suddenly banging on her car, and
shouting. She had no idea who he was and was alarmed. She continued to pull
away, but the person then displayed a police badge through the window. She then
went to pull back into the space and Officer A yelled at her not to. He said she
could have stripped his gears. He accused her of not being able to see properly
when she had trouble reading his license information. She noted that she only
requires reading glasses, and her own license does not indicate the need for
glasses. After the incident, Officer A requested DMV re-test her. She felt that
this was done in retaliation, as she passed the test easily.
Botsko said that any citizen can request DMV retest someone, and did not view
this as a significant allegation. However, she did believe that IAD should have
explored the courtesy allegation. Generally, PPB has very little latitude to
investigate off-duty conduct, but once Officer A identified himself as an
officer at the scene, higher standards should apply.
The appellant addressed the committee. She said that another aspect of the
complaint was that Officer A parked his car so that it extended well into the
crosswalk area. In other words, he was illegally parked. The officer's behavior
was so bizarre, she was amazed to learn he was a police officer.
Simon asked Capt. Bennington if he had looked at the DMV request form. Capt.
Bennington said yes, and Officer A did indicate on the form that he was a police
Ueland asked the appellant if any insurance claims had been filed. She said
no. She added that the Dept. of Motor Vehicles staff had in fact recommended
that she file the IAD complaint.
Capt. Bennington said there were essentially two issues in this complaint.
DMV allows anyone to request an evaluation. Regarding the courtesy issue, PPB's
General Order pertaining to courtesy talk about actions of on-duty officers,
officers on paid status. The General Order pertaining to off-duty conduct as
well falls under "Standard of Conduct," but that refers to actions that
discredit the Bureau or the city. The allegations in this complaint do not reach
that level. Illegal parking by off-duty officers falls outside PPB's scope.
Weisberg said that this case "smells" like another case advisors recently
reviewed, regarding an officer's off-duty conduct. He was reluctant to send this
one back. Simon was troubled by a "half investigation," in which IAD obtains
some information, but then "declines" the complaint which precludes it from
being recorded on the officer's history.
Antilla asked if any witnesses were available. The appellant said the
officer's wife or girlfriend approached them while they were exchanging
Simon made a motion to return the case for further investigation; Burney
Ueland said he planned to vote for the motion. Although officers should be
able to exercise their rights as citizens, he was concerned about the alleged
behavior given that the officer identified himself as an officer. This is
important given the Bureau's encouragement of having officers live in the city,
and community policing philosophies.
Weisberg said that he also has difficulty with IAD's declining a complaint
after conducting some preliminary inquiry. Capt. Bennington said he does not
disagree, although IAD must sometimes conduct preliminary inquiry in order to
determine whether to proceed with more investigation, or who should ultimately
have investigative responsibility.
Ford says he expects officers to conduct themselves appropriately. He called
for a vote.
The motion carried [Y-9; Weisberg-Abstain].
[Haring, Heck and Weisberg left].
Anttila announced that she had gone on her first ride-along the previous
week. She went with a female officer who was an acting sergeant that night. They
had to respond to a suicide; Anttila decided to accompany the officers inside.
The subject had shot herself in the head, and it was gruesome.
Anttila also reported on a conference she had attended with Botsko, the
National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE).
Approximately 135 attended the conference in the Bay area. Lots of information
was provided, ACLU had an interesting speaker.
Botsko added that former Portland police chief Penny Harrington was one of
the panelists. The audit model is gradually gaining favor as a model of civilian
review. Portland is unique in that it incorporates an audit model with a citizen
panel. Many other cities with more traditional review boards report constant
legal battles and adversarial relationships. Subpoena power seems to be a
divisive issue; some boards gain subpoena power after protracted legal battles,
only to have officers appear and plead the Fifth Amendment. She came away with
the impression that Portland is doing a lot of things right, and PIIAC is
fortunate to have the degree of support from the Police Bureau, Mayor and City
Botsko also said that a keynote speaker had some interesting things to say
about review or oversight boards holding themselves to high standards. Going on
ride-alongs, attending a Citizens Academy, having seminars -- these are all
goals that PIIAC members should have in order to meet standards of excellence
Ford announced that City Council recently honored two officers as City
Employees of the Year, as part of the Spirit of Portland Awards. Botsko said
that she and Ford had nominated an officer on behalf of PIIAC, for the Chief's
Forum Nathan Thomas Memorial Award. This officer was a CIT officer who had
rescued a suicidal man off the Fremont Bridge.
Scott Freshner addressed the committee. He said advisors had heard his appeal
the previous month, and had requested that he be given the opportunity to
mediate. He wondered why Botsko had not reported back.
Capt. Bennington said he had only just learned that the officer had declined
mediation. Advisors requested that Freshner return in January, so they could
then resolve the matter.
Nena Williams addressed the committee. She suggested that letters to
complainants advising them of Council action include an explanation that the
Chief has the final authority.
A KBOO reporter addressed the committee. She said that when the last
monitoring report was presented to City Council, she heard Leo Painton recommend
to Council that IAD not accept third party complaints. Capt. Bennington
responded that that was one person making a suggestion. Botsko said that was
unlikely to ever become the procedure, because there are situations in which a
third party may have pertinent information about a significant inciden.
Burney introduced Gene Bales, a potential replacement for him.
Capt. Bennington announced that Sam Houston University had received a Dept.
of Justice grant to study complaints and complaint investigations. Portland was
one of the cities chosen for review because it has a citizen review component.
Bennington explained that only the first phase of the study has been completely
formulated. The study will attempt to determine who complains and who does not,
and survey the opinions of those who have gone through the complaint
Botsko said the Rap Sheet had published an editorial that she thought was
inaccurate. She had prepared a response on behalf of the citizen advisors.
Simon made a motion to accept the letter; Anttila seconded. The motion
carried unanimously [Y-7].
The meeting adjourned.