NOVEMBER 12, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Gene
Bales; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Leora Mahoney; Steve Heck; Robert Ueland;
Randall Weisberg; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Dapo Sobomehin
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Sgt.
Vince Jarmer, IAD; Sgt. Pam Kauffman, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Sgt. John
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
[Heck not yet present.]
Ford called the meeting to order. He thanked Leora Mahoney and and the North
Portland Neighborhood Office for providing location and refreshments for the
last advisory meeting.
PIIAC #98-05: Botsko summarized. The appellant, a Portland police officer,
had originally filed a complaint with Internal Affairs in June 1997 on behalf of
a fellow officer. A PPB supervisor had turned down that officer’s request to
work a special detail . Evidently the officer’s IAD complaint history was part
of the reason, which the appellant said would be justifiable grounds for the
rejection. But the supervisor allegedly made another statement regarding race
and gender, verifiable by witnesses, and the appellant felt this was improper
IAD declined the complaint, citing legal justification and also the fact that
a union grievance had been filed. The declination letter did offer to re-open
the case if the outcome of the grievance arbitration indicated possible
The appellant subsequently filed a PIIAC appeal in early 1998. In preparation
for the advisory meeting, Botsko had reviewed the complaint file, and in a
preliminary audit report sent to PIIAC advisors and IAD, she recommended that
IAD accept the complaint as an EEO investigation, or obtain sufficient legal
grounds to support a declination. For example, the declination letter stated
that the appellant had "no colorable claim of discrimination." Botsko stated
that the language sounded legalistic, and IAD should have legal consultation
before using this type of phraseology. She expressed concerns that IAD would
offer to re-open an investigation pending on the outcome of the grievance. If
the potential existed for a General Order violation, IAD should proceed with
review. She stated that the grievance process may be the appropriate vehicle for
some of the issues, but not necessarily for the allegations of misconduct or
general order violation.
The day before the scheduled advisory meeting, Botsko met with Assistant
Chief Butzer. Her impression was that he agreed with her assessment and the case
would be voluntarily withdrawn. The next day, Botsko was contacted by the
appellant who had been given the same impression, and he requested that he
withdraw his appeal for the time being.
Recently he was sent yet another declination letter from IAD, who never
proceeded with investigating his complaint. They based their decision on the
withdrawal of the grievance, and also stated that the allegations do not
comprise a legal violation. Therefore, the appellant was renewing the appeal to
Botsko said that she had been surprised to learn that IAD had not done
anything different with this complaint. Had she know that from the beginning,
she would not have withdrawn the appeal from last January’s docket. She was
disappointed in the communication glitch.
The appellant addressed the committee and elaborated on the circumstances
leading up to his complaint. He said that if the supervisor had simply limited
himself to commenting on the officer’s complaint history, there would not have
been a problem, but mentioning the officer’s gender and race appeared to violate
the general order prohibiting employment discrimination. The remark was
overheard by other officers willing to testify. The labor agreement process does
not address misconduct issues, which he believed this was.
Capt. Bennington addressed the panel, and stated that sometimes a simple
allegations can be complex. Volunteers are solicited for the particular
assignment. There are many applicants, not all can be chosen. The criteria for
accepting a complaint is whether if the allegation were true, would it
constitute a violation? Capt. Bennington believed that in this case. The general
order prohibiting discrimination refers only to employment status, which in the
officer’s case was not affected. An issue involving an overtime assignment is
best handled through the grievance process. He had consulted with the city
attorney’s office, that told him that the Portland Police Association could
pursue a parallel process, but that his declination was based on the merit of
The appellant stated that he had not filed the IAD complaint in his capacity
as a union official, but as a police officer. Ueland wondered why he had used
PPA stationery for his correspondence if that was the case.
Weisberg said he had two concerns.. First, this particular explanation was
not laid out in the declination letter, and he asked the appellant if a better
explanation would help. The appellant said that the explanation did not suffice.
Weisberg also said that he had no information about PPB’s policy or selection
criteria for the overtime assignment.
Botsko asked the appellant if there was any material benefit to working the
special assignment. The appellant said it meant overtime pay. Botsko then said
she was not entirely sure that the language about "employment status" referred
only to whether or not someone was employed. In employment law, it could also
mean financial or other gain. She was not comfortable with IAD not having better
Wells asked if the advisors or IAD could get a legal opinion about the
language of the general order and if it could apply to this situation. Weisberg
responded that if the facts present a legal issue, the committee by itself is
not equipped to answer that. He asked what the BFQ (bona fide qualifications)
are for the overtime assignment, and what the actual composition of the detail
was. Ford said he would like information about both issues. Weisberg said that
he would suggest first getting basic information, then later decide if a legal
opinion is warranted. Ford agreed.
Weisberg made a motion that IAD obtain additional information about the bona
fide qualifications for the assignment and the actual qualification of the
detail. He also wanted IAD to determine whether the alleged remark was
arbitrary, or whether the supervisor truly did make selections based on ethnic
origin and gender. Bales seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-10].
Monitoring Report: Ueland summarized. He said that the second and third
quarter monitoring was being combined into a single report. He highlighted key
points of the report. The Bureau had revised their general orders pertaining to
the complaint and disciplinary process, and these new G.O’s are very
comprehensive. Key changes include a broadening of criteria for the Early
Warning System (formerly "Command Review), including review of tort claims for
which the advisors had long advocated. Bifurcation of complaints was now
provided for: if peripheral violations are discovered during a complaint
investigation, such as failure to properly document use of force, but the force
itself is exonerated, the matter can be "bifurcated" from the main complaint.
Also, the Bureau now has a finding called "Not Sustained with Debriefing,"
which means that if a complaint is not sustained against an officer because
there was no specific violation, but the officer might have handled the
situation better, the supervisor can debrief with the officer in a non-punitive
manner. Previously, a supervisor may or may not have done this.
Advisors noted that timeliness has continued to worsen in IAD cases reviewed,
and unfortunately, investigative quality was becoming inconsistent. The report
recommended several methods of helping to improve timeliness, including
maintaining better activity logs, maintaining better records of cases in
progress, capping the number of cases assigned to an investigator at any given
time. Frank asked whether such record-keeping would further burden the
investigators. Ueland said these were simply recommendations; the Bureau could
determine what might or might not work. Botsko also said that while the
paperwork might take longer, it often helped more effectively manage heavy
caseloads. Wells added that the subcommittee is not trying to micromanage IAD,
but is making suggestions for best practices.
Weisberg asked about the Early Warning System, and how declinations fit into
that. Botsko said that for the next quarterly report, she planned to review
Ueland also said that PIIAC occasionally had reports of service-related
complaints that do not fall under "misconduct." The Bureau does not consistently
respond to these as well as they could, and the subcommittee was recommending
the Bureau have an "ombudsman" or a point person to respond to service or policy
issues, research citizen requests or questions, provide information or if
appropriate, attempt resolution for a citizen.
One of the appeals advisors handled in the past quarter led to a
recommendation. A teenage girl’s car was towed for failure to provide proof of
insurance. She was quite a distance from home, it was dark, and her mother had
complained the girl had to walk a ways to a public phone and was very scared.
This was not the first such complaint advisors had heard about. Although
advisors had no disagreement with the tow policy, they noted that Bureau GO’s
makes no mention of officer responsibility to someone who could be vulnerable if
left stranded. Advisors do not believe officers should transport such people
home, but might at least ensure that person was safely seen to a public
telephone. Therefore the recommendation was that Bureau G.O. address this.
Capt. Bennington responded to the monitoring report. He said some of the
concerns have already been addressed, and that PPB takes the reports seriously.
The Bureau would review the General Order regarding the tow policy. Regarding
the complaint advisors had reviewed, the peripheral issues would be addressed by
the Bureau’s Review Level Committee.
Regarding IAD staffing, the Bureau had to borrow an IAD investigator for
Operation 80, a massive program for hiring. It was a tough decision, but it will
be a short-term assignment. Funds for case management software are carrying
over; he anticipated implementing the software by January 2000.
He disagreed with the recommendation to cap investigations, because each
investigator is assigned to work cases from a precinct, and having all the cases
in hand helps illuminate patterns and practices. He also said the ombudsman
recommendation might not be necessary because of the new General Order provision
for tracking service complaints. Repeated service complaints could trigger a
review under the Early Warning System.
Robert Ueland made a motion that the report be accepted; Weisberg seconded.
The motion carried unanimously [Y-10].
Ford asked for volunteers to assist the monitoring subcommittee. The advisors
discussed plans for the December meeting and annual potluck.
Nena Williams volunteered to participate in efforts to revise PIIAC city
Dan Handelman said that the monitoring report was very thorough and he hoped
the committee would continue publishing them four times a year. He commented on
some previous meeting times that had been canceled due to lack of appeals, and
suggested that advisors take advantage of those months to meet with the
community or conduct work sessions.
He stated that at a recent rally to protest police brutality, many people did
not know about PIIAC, including public defenders.
Botsko responded that public defenders have no excuse, their office is on
PIIAC’s mailing list and they receive all of the reports.
Handleman said that "The Skanner" newspaper had recently published an
editorial calling for an independent review board, and recommending that issue
be placed on the ballot.
He said that Copwatch is not anti-police, just anti-brutality,
The meeting adjourned.