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3rd Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report

CITIZEN ADVISORS

THIRD QUARTER 1997 MONITORING REPORT

TO THE POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS

AUDITING COMMITTEE

(PIIAC)

 

Monitoring Subcommittee Members & Staff
Robert Ueland, Chair
Marina Anttila
Robert Wells
Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff


Approved by PIIAC Citizen Advisors
October 9, 1997


Submitted to City Council
October 30, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS
1997 THIRD QUARTER MONITORING REPORT TO THE
POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
AUDITING COMMITTEE
(PIIAC)




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."


FOLLOW UP TO PREVIOUS QUARTERLY REPORT
Appended to this report as Attachment A is the Chief's response to the Second Quarter 1997 report. We did not receive it in time to prepare a summary and comments, so will make that a part of our next monitoring report.
As an update, PPB has accepted a previous citizen advisor recommendation that the wording of disposition letters authored by precinct commanders reflect IAD's role in case review.


IAD / PIIAC ACTIVITY


I. PIIAC -- National Model for Civilian Oversight
On July 31 PIIAC was featured in a 7-minute story airing on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." The number of communities implementing some form of civilian review has increased tremendously in recent years, and are not limited to large city agencies. (Portland continues to be the only community in Oregon to have civilian review.) PIIAC staff has received a steady number of requests for information from local governments throughout the country, interested citizens, and most recently -- NIKE and the U.S. Office of Treasury (with respect to President Clinton's proposal to establish oversight of the IRS).
Communities are beginning to view the audit model, which PIIAC utilizes, as an effective form of civilian review that strikes a good balance between the competing interests of various stakeholders. This was the theme of the NPR story, which referred to our program as "innovative." For internet users who have RealAudio®, the broadcast can be listened to directly from NPR's website at http://www.realaudio.com/contentp/npr/nb7y31.html. (RealAudio® can be downloaded for free from NPR's website for computers equipped with sound cards. That website address is http://www.npr.org.) Tapes and transcripts can also be ordered from NPR directly.
PIIAC has attempted to make its information more accessible. In this day and age of technology, we have developed a website which is linked to both the Commissioners' and Mayor's websites. Agendas, quarterly reports and monthly meeting minutes can be posted with little effort. The application form and job description for potential citizen advisors can be downloaded from our site, and we are linked to the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs Division, where potential complainants can download a complaint form and explanatory brochure. Our website address is http://www.ci.portland.or.us/piiac, and we have registered our site with various search engines.
In related developments, Tucson recently adopted a similar audit model and sent the newly-hired auditor and an assistant city manager to Portland to study the PIIAC system. In early October, a researcher from the Sam Houston State University's Criminal Justice System reviewed IAD cases as part of a research project. The study is being funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice, and is designed to review the citizen complaint process in six police departments across the country. Portland was chosen because the process incorporates a civilian review mechanism, and because the Police Bureau has readily agreed to provide access to the researchers. PIIAC staff met with the researchers and has requested a copy of their final report.
In late October, a national expert and author on civilian review systems, Dr. Sam Walker, criminal justice professor at the University of Omaha, will be visiting Portland to study the PIIAC process.


II. Cases Appealed / Monitored
During the third quarter 1997, PIIAC advisors processed 7 new appeals. The appeals and actions taken are as follow:
PIIAC #96-18: City Council, acting as PIIAC, voted to request that the Chief sustain the complaint against an officer who wrote an informational report about his neighbor. (The report followed an incident in which the neighbor's adolescent boys were making too much noise in their back yard at an early morning hour.)
The Chief provided a written response to Council, indicating that he did not accept the recommendation.


PIIAC #97-11: The appellant claimed that he was mistakenly arrested during a prostitution mission; arresting officers removed him roughly from his vehicle, and were discourteous while issuing a citation and exclusion. Advisors determined that the investigation was thorough and sufficiently supported the findings; the full PIIAC (City Council) accepted the advisors' recommendations on appeal.


PIIAC #97-12: The appellant complained about an incident in which he was struck by a neighbor's vehicle. He believed responding officers did not sufficiently investigate and were at fault for not arresting the driver. Advisors voted to affirm PPB's findings, and determined that the investigation satisfactorily revealed that the officers did in fact question appropriate parties, but did not make an arrest based on a lack of injury to the appellant, and a belief that the collision was accidental. In addition, the D.A. had declined to proceed on the complaint.


PIIAC #97-13: Advisors have requested this case be returned for deliberation and reconsideration of findings with PPB's Review Level Committee. That request is pending, due to the appointment of two new Assistant Chiefs.


The case involves a 65-year-old man who was stopped for a traffic violation. He claims he had difficulty retrieving his license from his pants pocket, as his pants were tight and the officer would not allow him to get out of his vehicle. The officer then decided to remove the appellant himself, injuring him, and also struck the appellant in the face. The officer says that the appellant was belligerent from the start and would not cooperate. The appellant pulled the officer's arm inside the vehicle (with engine running) when the officer attempted to remove him, causing the officer to strike his chin on the top of the car. He applied two distraction strikes to the appellant's face, which then enabled him to remove the appellant from the vehicle. The appellant was identified, cited and released.


Advisors note that timeliness problems forced IAD into relying on testimony given in depositions related to legal action against the city. They also note a similar case that was sustained against an officer, and are requesting more information from PPB's Review Level Committee about the overall analysis of this complaint. PIIAC will be kept apprised of the outcome of this review.


PIIAC #97-14: The appellant wanted traffic charges dropped,and also protested the officer's demeanor. IAD declined the complaint; in the absence of specific allegations of officer misconduct, PIIAC advisors affirmed the declination.
PIIAC #97-15: Appellant alleges that he was cited for driving in a bus lane after he went around police vehicles blocking the street, the officers chatting with each other. He says that Officer A was rude and condescending, and would not fully identify himself . (Police Bureau had sustained complaint on improper procedure, with respect to officers blocking the street.) Due to missing tapes and remaining questions, advisors voted to return the case to IAD for re-investigation. That request is pending.
PIIAC #97-16: Appellant said an officer was rude and used profane language during traffic stop. She claimed the stop was based on her ethnic background. Advisors concluded that PPB review adequately established that the officer had probable cause to stop her, and that the findings were appropriate.
We monitored an additional 10 IAD investigations closed out during the second quarter. We monitor all closed cases that fall into the following categories: use of force, disparate treatment, complaints with sustained findings, and cases that went to PPB's Review Level Committee. Cases with less significant allegations are not routinely audited unless they are appealed.
Cases reviewed for monitoring reflected the following types of allegations:(1)
Property 0
Use of Force 7
Conduct 1
Disparate Treatment 0
Communication 3
Performance 2
Procedure 6
The findings reflected the following:
Unfounded 2
Exonerated 5
Insufficient Evidence 2
Sustained 2
Suspended 2
Declined 0


Use of Force Cases Audited:
The Use of Force cases reflected the following findings(2):
Unfounded 0
Exonerated 4
Insufficient Evidence 0
Sustained 0
Declined 0
Suspended 2(3)
Sustained complaints audited:
Precinct/division breakdown is as follows:
Southeast (Heisler/Grubbs) 2
Central 0
Northeast (Orr) 0
East (Paresi) 0
North (Rictor) 0
Other: 0


III. Courtesy/Communication Issues
IAD reports that they have received an unusually high number of complaints this past quarter. The majority of these complaints seem to deal with communication and courtesy issues. IAD has not been able to pinpoint any specific reason for the increase in complaints. As time permits in the following quarter, we will attempt to audit some of these cases in addition to our regular work.
Communication and attitude complaints are difficult to investigate. More often than not, the complainant and officer have different perceptions of an event, with no neutral independent witnesses to provide insight. We have observed that for the most part, the Bureau assesses these complaints fairly and objectively, without giving the benefit of the doubt to one party over another. But such complaints often end up with findings of "Insufficient Evidence," which is appropriate, but frustrating to citizen and officer alike. (During this past quarter we audited a case in which an officer was accused of speaking discourteously to a citizen. IAD had secured a tape recording of the actual conversation, and it was the impression of the auditors that the officer used a tone of voice that conveyed impatience and sarcasm. The citizen was not antagonistic or vocal at all, although did object to the manner in which the officer addressed him. Yet, if no tape existed, the complaint might seem petty, or perhaps the result of a biased, disgruntled citizen.)
To their credit, the Bureau includes such complaints in their early warning system, Command Review. The Police-Citizen Mediation process promises to be a satisfactory alternative to such complaint review, and may ultimately prove cost-effective by helping to reduce these types of complaints.
We would like to encourage the Bureau to re-evaluate its training with respect to communication strategies. We know that some communication classes are included in the annual in-service training, and we also understand the need to balance such coursework with defensive tactics training. However, as one officer said to us, "Communication is not taught as a survival technique -- and it should be."
We recommend PPB examine the possibility of expanding and adapting the CIT Training methods with regard to communication. The Bureau's Crisis Intervention Training program, which teaches officers to deal specifically with the mentally ill, concentrates heavily on communication methods: body language, personal space issues, tone of voice, things to say in different situations. It uses lectures and role-plays to describe ways of de-escalating conflict and aggressive behavior, emphasizing the need for officers to model the desired behavior, rather than match the level of aggression. What strikes us about these techniques is that they make sense for a variety of situations -- not just in dealing with the mentally ill. Many officers instinctively use the techniques, or have learned them through experience. In Memphis, Tennessee, where the model for the program originated, statistics reflect a decrease in injuries to both officers and citizens.
Yet we review complaints regularly that may have been avoidable with better communication strategies. We have seen use-of-force complaints that may be justifiable, but raise definite questions about what transpired before the point where the force was used. We see complaints that seem to result when the interaction turns into a "button-pushing" contest.


IV. Timeliness
Time taken from receipt of complaint to when the case was closed out(4) ranged from 6 months to 19 months, with an average of approximately 7.5 months.
In addition IAD reports that with the recent increase in caseload, four investigators simply cannot keep up. We recommend PPB make a concerted effort to re-establish the fifth investigator position.




ATTACHMENT A


.
September 18, 1997


TO: Mayor Vera Katz
Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee
SUBJECT: Response to Second Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report
The Second Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report was approved by the Citizen Advisors on July 10, 1997 and accepted by City Council on July 16, 1997. Numerous recommendations were made in the report. While some suggestions involve the internal "investigative process" others dealt with administrative aspects about the handling of personnel matters after the investigation is complete. This Memorandum addresses each of the specific recommendations made by the Citizen Advisors to the Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee.
Recommendation one:
Use of force complaints, where the force indeed occurred, should never be declined.
Response:
I concur with the reports' suggestions that discussions should continue with Captain Bennington. I appreciate the information provided and I accept the recommendation.
Recommendation two:
We recommend that corresponding G.O. 312.50 (Identification) is revised to reflect the new requirement.
Response:
The Identification G.O. 312.50 has been flagged and will be updated to make it concurrent with G.O. 211.00 - Board on Public Safety Standards and Training Identification Numbers.
Recommendation three:
We recommend that the Chief or his designee, and the schedulers, adopt a timeliness goal of no more than 60 days from the time Review Level Committee makes its recommendations to the time the letter of proposed discipline is sent to the employee.
Response:
All areas concerning "personnel matters" and the imposition of discipline should be done in a timely manner. The requirements of "due process" and other outside factors, can cause delays in the process. We will continue to monitor this issue and we will strive to ensure that handling of "personnel" matters is done as expeditiously as staffing, and "due process" allow.
Recommendation four:
We urge the Police Commissioner and Chief to make the completion of G.O. 340.00 (Complaint and Disciplinary Process) a priority.
Response:
The General Order 340.00 (Complaint and Disciplinary Process) has gone through various stages of revamping. This General Order was renumbered and packaged with five other related General Orders. We expect all general orders to be at the final draft stage and published in the near future. The new GOs are as follows:


1. GO 330.00 Internal Affairs, Complaint Investigation Process
2. GO 341.00 Disciplinary Process
3. GO 342.00 Personnel Performance Deficiencies and Non-Internal Affairs Rule Violations
4. GO 343.00 Criminal Investigation of Police Bureau Employees
5. GO 344.00 Prohibited Discrimination
6. GO 345.00 Early Warning System
Recommendation five:
We recommend that the Bureau's use-of-deadly-force investigative protocol include a mechanism for debriefing, assessing, and providing feedback on the internal investigation.
Response:
We have a protocol for handling use of deadly force investigations. This is covered by our G.O. 1010.10 (Use of Deadly Force, Including Reporting Requirements) and the investigative protocols of the Detective Division. Those protocols will not be changed at this time.
Recommendation six:
We recommend that any time a high-level Bureau employee is investigated, a neutral party--perhaps an outside agency--conduct the investigation. The Bureau should also seek recommended findings from a neutral referee or body.
Response:
The ability for any Commissioner or Bureau to seek outside assistance in a major investigation is known. While the requests may be infrequent, we have assisted other Bureaus and Cities. Anytime a Commissioner or a Bureau head felt that assistance is needed, local, state, and federal agencies can be contacted. The individual Commissioners are in the best position to determine if outside assistance is needed and they would be the neutral party to determine findings.
Recommendation seven:
We recommend PPB establish a protocol for "debriefing" when a finding is changed after mitigation.
Response:
While the mitigation process normally only deals with the level of discipline, I have, on rare occasions, reversed the finding to not sustained. I meet daily with the Assistant Chiefs and provide feedback when the situation occurs.
Recommendation eight:
We also recommend that the Chief and Review Level Committee discuss the best and most appropriate manner in which to notify complainants in these situations.


Response:
We will continue to discuss the most appropriate manner in which to notify the complainants. We will send out the disposition letter after I accept the Review Level Committee's recommendation. The complainant's will be advised if the outcome changes to "not sustained."
Recommendation nine:
That PPB Officers be notified of their right to appeal to PIIAC.
Response:
We accept the recommendation.


Charles A. Moose, Ph.D.
Chief of Police


cc: Commissioner Jim Francesconi
Commissioner Charlie Hales
Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury
Commissioner Eric Sten




ATTACHMENT B


IAD COMPLAINT CATEGORIES
1. Property: Allegation that money, property, evidence and other valued items have been taken and not properly accounted for, receipted, or placed in the Property Room.
2. Use of Force: Allegation of excessive or inappropriate physical or deadly physical force (Refer to G.O. 314.00).
3. Conduct: Allegations of misconduct other than those more specifically defined by another category, which tend to bring reproach or discredit upon the Bureau or City of Portland.
4. Disparate Treatment: Allegations of treatment to an individual that is different from the treatment of another because of
(a) Race.
(b) Other: sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, economic status, political or religious beliefs, appearance, handicap, etc. . .
5. Communication: Allegations relating to attitude, rude conduct, or verbally abusive conduct other than those addressed in the disparate treatment category.
6. Performance: Allegations of work performance which fails to meet or conform with Bureau standards or requirements of an administrative nature such as lateness, misuse of sick time, etc.
7. Procedure: Allegations of conduct which violates a General Order, Special Order, or order of a superior officer and which are not more specifically addressed in sections (1) - (6).




FINDING CATEGORIES
1. Unfounded: Claim is false. Based on the facts of the investigation, there is no basis to the allegation.
2. Exonerated: Actions of the officer were within the guidelines of Bureau policy and procedure.
3. Insufficient Evidence: There was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation(s).
4. Sustained: Officer found to be in violation of Bureau policy or procedure.
5. Declined: Police Bureau declines to conduct full investigation.
6. Suspended: Investigation is suspended, usually because complainant fails to provide key information.


1. PPB definitions of allegations and findings are appended to this report as Attachment B. We point out that statistics must be viewed with an understanding that a single complaint may reflect multiple allegations and findings, and may involve more than one officer.
2. Some cases resulted in different findings for more than one officer; that is why the total number of findings is higher than the total number of cases.
3. Both cases were suspended when complainants did not respond to IAD's follow-up contacts.
4. A decision was rendered by the officer's commander or the Bureau's Review Level Committee.