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3rd Quarter 1996 Monitoring Report

CITIZEN ADVISORS
THIRD QUARTER 1996 MONITORING REPORT
TO THE POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
AUDITING COMMITTEE
(PIIAC)

 
Monitoring Subcommittee Members & Staff
Robert Ueland, Chair
Gerald Kling
Todd Olson
Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff
 
Approved by PIIAC Citizen Advisors
October 10, 1996
Submitted to City Council
November 13, 1996
 
The PIIAC Citizen Advisors Monitoring Subcommittee is responsible for surveying cases handled by the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs Division (PPB/IAD) involving citizens and Police employees' complaints about alleged police misconduct. The Subcommittee analyzes complaints, IAD's investigations and Risk Management data to "highlight trends of police performance, suggesting necessary Police Bureau policy and procedural changes. Patterns of behavior, unclear procedures, policy issues and training needs may be identified for review."(1),
 

FOLLOW UP TO PREVIOUS QUARTERLY REPORT

PIIAC has not received the Chief's Response to the Second Quarter 1996 Monitoring Report; we will include it with our next monitoring report.
 
The PPB Training Division informed the citizen advisors that their fall training sessions will address some concerns we have identified. They will teach a course in "Situational Management," which will explore strategies for officers to help prevent tense citizen encounters from escalating. This course will address communication techniques. We particularly appreciate PPB's having those instructors meet with PIIAC staff during the course development phase. The fall training will also clarify the Bureau's position on "distraction blows."
 

IAD / PIIAC ACTIVITY

I. Cases Appealed / Monitored
 
During the Third Quarter 1996, PIIAC advisors heard four new appeals. We continued one appeal until the October meeting, in order for the appellant to provide additional information to the citizen advisors. In the remaining three appeals, advisors voted to uphold the original PPB findings -- two declinations(2), and one "Insufficient Evidence."
 
Advisors also reviewed two appeals that they had previously returned to PPB for additional work. They supported the findings in one, but did not in the other. In the latter instance, the additional investigation was sufficient but officer and complainant statements were contradictory with no hope of reaching real resolution. Advisors voted to request review by PPB's Review Level Committee. They felt a more appropriate finding would be "Insufficient Evidence." That request is pending.
 
PPB's Review Level Committee reviewed an appeal that advisors heard during the second quarter. Not only had an initially weak investigation prompted its return for more work, but the additional information seemed to support a finding of "Insufficient Evidence" rather than "Exonerated." PIIAC Staff and a citizen advisor participated in the Review Level Committee deliberations, and Review Level members voted to change the finding.
 
We monitored thirteen additional IAD investigations.
 
Cases monitored and appealed reflected the following types of allegations:(3)
 
Property
1
Use of Force
9
Conduct
10
Disparate Treatment
1
Communication
4
Performance
0
Procedure
2
 
The findings reflected the following:
 
Unfounded
6
Exonerated
5
Insufficient Evidence
3
Sustained
4
Suspended
2
Declined
3
 
Of the four complaints sustained, all were sustained for Conduct -- specifically, some form of illegal or irresponsible off-duty conduct. One complaint was additionally sustained in the category of Procedure when an officer failed to obtain permission before taking his police vehicle home. Two of the four officers against whom complaints were sustained were reserve officers. In a third case involving a reserve officer, his commander recommended a sustained finding, but the PPB Review Level Committee decided on "Insufficient Evidence."
 
II Timeliness
 
Timeliness has improved but continues to fall short of Bureau goals. Among those cases investigated, time taken from receipt of complaint to when the case was closed out ranged from six weeks to eleven months, with an average of five months. Although IAD has added a fifth investigator, and IAD investigators are assigned cases with more serious allegations, the investigators carry a significant case load.
 
Bureau commanders must share responsibility for the problems with timeliness. Among those cases reviewed this quarter, commanders held several past the deadlines -- sometimes by several months. In one case, the commander did file a request for extension, and explained the reason for the delay. In other cases, no explanations were provided. The Review Level hearings were consistently timely. We will continue to track post-investigation timeliness. Meanwhile, we recommend that PPB address this topic with commanders, and that IAD develop a reminder system for tracking when adjudication deadlines have come and gone.
 
III. Quality
 
Among those cases monitored and new appeals reviewed, quality of investigations and interviews were generally good, both in IAD and at the precinct or division level. In fact, one non-IAD investigator was particularly effective in calmly exposing the inconsistent and illogical statements made by a less-than-forthcoming reserve officer, to the extent that the officer turned in his badge and resigned before the interview had concluded.
 
Only two precinct-level investigations were weak, for exactly the reasons described in our previous monitoring report. We understand that IAD Capt. Jensen is providing training to both IAD and precinct-level investigators. In addition, he scheduled the IAD detectives for an intensive course in advanced interview technique.
 
IV. Disposition Letters (Precinct/Division Level)
 
In a previous report, the citizen advisors expressed concern about authorship of disposition letters. Chief Moose responded by saying that he had no problem with letters authored by precinct or division commanders reflecting the support and review by IAD.
 
We are still seeing some disposition letters that do not include such a statement, which we believe is critical in inspiring confidence in Bureau accountability. We recommend that all investiations or inquiries handled by non-IAD staff be reviewed by IAD before a final disposition letter be mailed to a complainant. The letter should inform the complainant that IAD has reviewed the case and concurs with the finding.
 

MEDIATION

City staff are further refining the Police-Citizen Mediation Pilot Project. Only one case has been mediated this past quarter; seventeen remain officially open.(4) The Office of Neighborhood Associations (ONA) is working closely with the Neighborhood Mediation Center (NMC) to establish more specific protocols and time lines for completion. They are working to implement a database system for case management, and hope to provide more regular case updates then.
 
NMC staff appeared before the citizen advisory panel in August. We were very disappointed with the presentation. The staff did not seem well-organized and were unable to provide satisfactory answers to some of the advisors' questions. They have agreed to provide a follow-up report at the November meeting.
 
Since PPB is now regularly identifying and forwarding cases to NMC after a slow beginning, we cannot afford to have the process break down. Only one case mediated in 1996 is completely unacceptable, and we encourage the efforts to bring about improvement.
 

KUDOS

This quarter, kudos go to Officer Rich Austria and Capt. Ron Webber of the Training Division for providing an excellent tactical demonstration to the citizen advisory panel. They demonstrated handcuffing procedure, and methods for removing a resistant subject from a vehicle. Advisors had questions about these matters after hearing a particular case in June.
 
Kudos also go to Capt. C.W. Jensen and the IAD investigators who are all very cooperative and responsive to PIIAC staff and advisors.
 

Footnotes
1. Mayor Katz' Police/Citizen Accountability Initiative, adopted by City Council January 1994.
2. A complainant appealed a declination to City Council (PIIAC) who upheld the advisors' recommendations.
3. PPB definitions of allegations and findings are appended to this report as Attachment B.
4. Several additional cases reflect that one of the parties ultimately withdrew or declined before the mediation could occur. In several other cases, the complainant cannot be located or is otherwise unavailable.