FIRST QUARTER 1998 MONITORING REPORT
TO THE POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
Monitoring Subcommittee Members & Staff
Robert Ueland, Chair
Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff
Approved by PIIAC Citizen Advisors
April 9, 1998
Submitted to City Council
April 29, 1998
1998 FIRST QUARTER MONITORING REPORT TO THE
POLICE INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
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
The Chief's response to our Fourth Quarter 1997 report is not due until May 11.
IAD / PIIAC ACTIVITY
In late January, Internal Affairs sponsored a two-day in-service training session for PPB members and other law enforcement agency members on conducting complaint investigations. PIIAC Staff presented a segment on the PIIAC process.
In February, City Council members held an Informal discussion about the PIIAC process and possible code changes. The PIIAC Chair, Mayor Katz, said she would convene a small work group and talk to other stakeholders to solicit ideas for potential changes. Ultimately she will present a replacement ordinance.
I. Cases Appealed / Monitored
During the first quarter 1998, PIIAC advisors processed 4 new appeals. The appeals and actions taken are as follow:
PIIAC #97-23: The appellant, an attorney, was summoned to a traffic stop by a client. During the encounter with officers, the appellant called one officer a disparaging name, and the officer in turn made a remark about the appellant's hair loss. IAD declined to investigate based on the totality of circumstances; citizen advisors affirmed this decision. City Council, acting as PIIAC, supported the affirmation upon appeal.
PIIAC #98-01: The appellant claimed that a PPB officer improperly issued him a citation and did not take into account his side of the story. He also believed that the officer wrongly instructed a vagrant and drug user to enter the appellant's property. Advisors determined that PIIAC has no jurisdiction over the citation, and that IAD's review sufficiently developed information that did not support the second claim. This matter has been appealed and is awaiting review by City Council.
PIIAC #98-02: The appellant was arrested for violating public drinking laws. He claimed officers used excessive force in the arrest and deliberately damaged his bicycle. He further alleged that he should not have been taken to Hooper Detox. Advisors voted to affirm the investigation, which indicated that an officer pepper sprayed him after he attempted to flee and then became combative. Detox records supported officer's decision to lodge him there. This matter has been further appealed and is awaiting review by City Council.
PIIAC #98-03 will be heard at the April meeting.
PIIAC #98-04: IAD declined to investigate. The appellant was holding a sign with a political slogan when he was ordered by an officer to vacate a pedestrian walkway over a freeway. He was said to be creating a traffic hazard. He refused to move and the officer confiscated his sign. The appellant claims no legal basis exists for this action. He also claimed that IAD did not avail themselves of a tape recording he made of the incident. Advisors determined that the declination was not appropriate and that PPB may not have a sufficiently developed policy about such occurrences. They returned the case for investigation and recommended further attention to policy.
We monitored an additional 18 IAD investigations closed out during the past two quarters. 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)
Use of Force 6
Disparate Treatment 0
The findings reflected the following:
Insufficient Evidence 4
Sustained complaints audited:
Precinct/division breakdown is as follows:
Southeast (Grubbs) 0
Central (Kauffman) 2
Northeast (Orr/Foxworth) 2
East (Paresi) 2
North (Rictor) 0
Review/Level Committee/Chief Moose 2 (Controversions)
(Reserve Officers) Findling 1
Sustained complaints had been initiated both internally and externally (from citizens). Allegations that had sustained findings included spreading damaging rumors about a colleague, egregious off-duty conduct, association with a felon, untruthfulness, failure to document handcuffing, failure to document a domestic violence complaint, excessive force.
II. PPB's/PIIAC's response to public concerns about police practices:
Two recent incidences have generated public concern about police policy of "knock and talks" and off-duty officers' ability to carry weapons. Many calls and e-mails have come into the Mayor's office and PPB on these issues alone. City Code provides for the monitoring subcommittee to report on public input about police practices.
We have not seen any pattern or trend in complaints about either of these issues, although we monitor citizen complaints on an ongoing basis and are committed to reporting any trends that do develop.
The "knock and talk" tactic has been endorsed by the District Attorney's office, who provides legal direction to the Police Bureau, based on current case law and statutes. We do, however, recognize a need for both the Bureau and PIIAC to assiduously monitor complaints for any developing trend. When community concerns arise, the Bureau needs to publicly reaffirm its commitment to accountability and high standards, and ensure the public understands the complaint investigation process.
IAD reports that they are continually assessing the locations where complaint forms and explanatory brochures are provided. Both IAD and PIIAC staff are available to address community groups about the complaint investigation process. The PIIAC monitoring subcommittee will be meeting with the PPB Public Information Officer to discuss other ways to keep the public informed about police accountability in this city.
In addition, PPB has not followed through on our request to provide complaint forms and brochures in Spanish, and possibly other languages. This should not be a difficult and time-consuming project, and with our diverse population, the complaint system should be as accessible as possible to minority communities. Therefore, the PIIAC monitoring subcommittee will take the initiative in getting the IAD complaint forms translated into Spanish. We will solicit feedback on the drafts from Spanish-speaking community leaders and service providers, and forward the final result to Internal Affairs for publication.
III. Possible Trend: Inadequate review of legal support for officer actions
We reviewed two cases this past quarter in which legal support for officer actions is unclear, and the complaint review may not have adequately addressed the questionable action. In one case that was appealed to PIIAC, an appellant's political sign was confiscated because he was deemed to be a "traffic hazard." The appellant was on a pedestrian freeway overpass where such activities do not appear to be expressly prohibited under ODOT Administrative Rules and state statutes. The appellant maintains that there was nothing about his sign-carrying that would be any more disruptive than any other type of sign visible to motorists.
Part of IAD's complaint review involved contacting the District Attorney to determine what legal support existed for an officer's actions. Advisors agree that this is not an ideal way to adjudicate a particular complaint. The case highlights some interesting questions which advisors have requested the Bureau further research with the city attorney's office.
In a second case we monitored -- which was not appealed to PIIAC -- a suspected drug dealer was stopped and questioned after officers observed him jaywalking. PIIAC advisors are aware that the Bureau and District Attorney endorse the enforcement of the city jaywalking ordinance in areas of high drug activity. We have seen two complaints in the past two years about this practice, and will report if further complaints are received, or any trend or pattern appears to develop.
However, in this instance, although officers found no drugs, drug paraphernalia or weapons, they seized the complainant's bullet-proof vest, cellular phone and paging device as evidence of gang activity. (These items are often tools of illegal drug activity.) The only citation was for jaywalking.
The IAD investigation focused on this and other aspects of the complaint, and developed information that officers seized these items as evidence with a sergeant's permission. The intent was to see if they could develop Distribution of Controlled Substance charges against the complainant. The items seized could then play a role in the case. The charges could not be developed, and the items were returned to the complainant.
When the complaint was first initiated, the IAD commander wrote a memo to the file questioning this seizure. "How can we take phone/pager/vest as evidence of drug trafficking on a jaywalk arrest?" We posed the scenario to other PPB supervisors who were unconvinced of the legality of such an action, and suggested other ways the existence of these items might have been documented for future reference.
Although the officers in this case were exonerated with respect to Procedure, the question was not satisfactorily answered. We have not encountered this issue in other complaints, so do not know if this is an isolated incident -- if there were extenuating circumstances they were not strongly presented in the investigation -- but PPB may experience problems in the future if officers continue to seize such items without solid legal support. We recommend that the Bureau seek a legal opinion from the city attorney's office, and guidance from other relevant sources (District Attorney, Risk Management) about the aforementioned case, and adopt clearer policy guidelines as warranted. We would like to be informed of the outcome.
Time taken from receipt of complaint to when the case was closed out(2)
ranged from 4 months to 27 months, with an average of approximately 14.6 months. This number reflects cases that were not closed out when they should have been, and were discovered by the newly implemented IAD quarterly open-case audit. Clearly, IAD's timeliness statistics are severely affected by sloppy handling. Two cases sat in one supervisor's office for over a year, awaiting disposition. A third case was "discovered" as improperly discontinued at the precinct level, despite the fact that IAD had assigned it.
We reviewed a case at the request of an officer who did not wish to appeal the finding itself, but expressed a high level of frustration at the length of time this complaint was open. The allegations involved rude language. No work was done on the case for four months after the complaint was first received; after interviews were conducted within a reasonably short time, the case apparently sat dormant for another 9 months before a final, general summary was written in order for the case to be adjudicated.
We discovered that the person assigned to do the investigation is the same one who had two cases awaiting adjudication for over a year. On yet a another case we monitored this past quarter, this individual missed his adjudication deadline by approximately two months. While IAD's new quarterly open-case audit should help catch these lengthy delays, what performance standards or reviews are in place to hold supervisors accountable for processing complaints?
The Bureau creates more problems than it solves when individuals allow cases to languish. The ability to do a good investigation diminishes over time -- memories fade, potential witnesses may become unavailable. Complainants may conclude that the Bureau has no interest in resolving complaints; subject officers are left with an open case for unreasonable lengths of time. The Bureau loses its ability to effectively track potential problems, counsel officers, or effect discipline when those things need to happen.
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
(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).
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.
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.
A decision was rendered by the officer's commander or the Bureau's Review Level Committee.