Note: A single complaint may reflect multiple allegations and findings and may involve more than one officer.
Sustained complaints had been initiated both internally (from Police Bureau members) and externally (from citizens). Allegations that were sustained included a lack of courtesy and unprofessional conduct at a traffic accident scene, a poorly written report, multiple failures to appear in court, misuse of public property, and being at a location different from that reported to dispatch.
Lack of timeliness of IAD investigations is a chronic problem and continues to be one of PIIAC's major concerns. Dr. Samuel Walker, professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska and a national authority on police oversight, addressed the PIIAC Advisors at their June 8 meeting and followed up on June 19 with a letter to Mayor Katz in which he made the following comments:
"...as has been documented, the Portland Police Bureau takes an average of thirteen months to complete citizen complaint investigations. As I mentioned on several occasions, this is unacceptable. Other police departments and citizen oversight agencies complete most or all investigation in 90 or 120 days. It is imperative that the performance of the police department reach the level of performance achieved by these other agencies. PIIAC brought this problem to public attention a few years ago, and recommended the addition of more investigators to the police department’s internal affairs unit. If PIIAC is to retain its effectiveness and its credibility with the public, it is imperative that its recommendations be acted upon, particularly on such an important matter."
The PPB General Order on Internal Affairs, Complaint Investigation Process (G.O. 330.00) requires completion of investigations "within 10 weeks of the date the complaint was received by the Bureau." Captain Smith continues to aggressively attack the backlog problem by making prompt decisions about which cases should be investigated, which should be delegated to precinct commanders for inquiry, and which should be declined. Captain Smith also took proactive steps in pursuing a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant for a non-sworn staff member to assist with intake and administrative tasks. However, the PIIAC advisors continue to see cases which have taken well in excess of a year, and at times as much as two years, for IAD to complete.
It appears that the total number of IAD complaints has increased this year compared to previous years. However, it is difficult to quantify the increase because in previous years IAD counted only cases that were opened for investigation, but in calendar year 2000, they began counting all complaints regardless of whether or not a formal investigation is opened. (See Attachment B: Internal Affairs Division Statistics, January 1 through June 30, 2000.) In view of the continuing chronic problems regarding timeliness of IAD investigations, PIIAC again strongly recommends that at least three additional investigative sergeants and a lieutenant be immediately assigned to IAD.
IV. Communication Training
In the last monitoring period, the PIIAC advisors noted that officers at times gave unclear or confusing commands, notably during traffic stops. In response, Captain Smith took steps to include a communication component within the forty hours of In-Service training required of all officers. This training session included a number of communication scenarios, including traffic stops. The training is also provided to all new recruits in the PPB Academy. The PIIAC Examiner and a PIIAC Advisor were invited to view the training, which was developed by Sergeant Jerry Jones of IAD and presented by Sergeants Jones, Whisler, and Drum. In addition to the communication training for officers, all supervisors and command personnel have received two hours of training in IAD and communication issues. PIIAC recommends that training sessions, such as this one regarding communication, should be videotaped for future training purposes for PIIAC Advisors, laterally hired police officers, debriefings, etc.
In July 1999 General Order regarding Courtesy (G.O. 310.40) was revised to state in part that "no member shall use profanity in the performance of their duties except where necessary to establish control or to quote another person in police reports or in testimony." PIIAC's concern was that the language in this General Order could be used to justify an officer’s use of profanity when profanity is neither called for nor advisable. In fact, many of the complaints audited by PIIAC since the revision of G.O. 310.40 contained allegations of profanity by officers, even in fairly routine interactions with community members, such as traffic accidents and traffic stops. PIIAC looks with expectation for a rewrite of G.O. 310.40 and hopes that the guidelines for acceptable use of profanity will be significantly tightened.
VI. Disparate Treatment
IAD Statistics continue to show that over 20 percent of IAD complaints are from African Americans. Since the last report, Chief Kroeker has met in a public meeting with the African American community, and he has established a multi-ethnic panel to examine the issue of racial profiling by police officers. He has also agreed with PIIAC’s recommendation to look into the possibility of regularly cycling a refresher course of diversity training in the In-Service training for all officers, but this has not yet been done. PIIAC therefore requests a timeline for implementation of this recommendation.
Training Issue Regarding Lifting and Transporting Heavy Persons
Recently the PIIAC Advisors were called upon to reexamine new allegations regarding a PIIAC case that was originally brought to PIIAC in January 1997. During this reexamination, the Advisors learned that apparently a satisfactory solution was never found to the training problem of officers carrying heavy persons without risk of injury to either the civilian or the police officer. PIIAC again recommends that training techniques for lifting and transporting heavy persons be reexamined in an attempt to come up with a practical solution for this problem.
Availability of Public Records
It has been noted in several recent PIIAC cases that there may be unnecessary financial and administrative barriers to citizens who request access to public documents that are only available in the Police Bureau, including traffic division manuals, General Orders, etc. PIIAC recommends that the Police Bureau examine its current policies and fees for accessing public records and should attempt to identify specific instances in which unreasonable financial barriers are mandated by the current City Code. We further recommend that the Police Bureau should make public documents such as the General Orders available via the Internet, CD ROM, and at public libraries.
Use of the "Distraction Technique"
PIIAC has noted that the term "distraction technique" is still being used by some officers to describe their actions toward suspects. This term appears to be a euphemism for striking a suspect as a control technique or to prevent destruction of evidence by the suspect (e.g., swallowing of unlawful controlled substances.) The Training Division has previously informed PIIAC that the "distraction technique" is not a technique that is taught in training. Officers are taught to strike a person only in response to a physical threat and must follow the principles of the use of force continuum. In one of the cases examined by PIIAC (IAD #98-170), the officer in his interview mentioned the "distraction technique" as a common practice to keep a suspect from swallowing illegal drugs. The commander who issued the findings on the case expressed deep concern about this technique and recommended the following:
"I recommend that the Training Division study the cases in which the distraction principle has been applied and develop some guidelines for the use of the principle. The guidelines should be in close alignment with our current use of force continuum, specifically addressing when is it appropriate to strike someone in the head, which has the potential to result in serious physical injury. Following the review of these guidelines they should be incorporated into the Bureau’s defensive tactics training."
PIIAC recommends that the Police Bureau follow up on the above Precinct Commander’s recommendations regarding "distraction techniques."
Failure of Officers to Identify Themselves
The most common complaint seen by PIIAC and the most easily prevented is the allegation that Portland police officers have refused to provide their identification number when requested. G.O. 312.50 clearly states that all Police Bureau members "will identify themselves by name and DPSST number upon request." PIIAC recommends that the Chief specifically address this issue with the commanding officers and reinforce the requirement that officers identify themselves to the public.
PIIAC has noted several times in the past that there is a problem regarding motorists who are left stranded in potentially dangerous locations, for example when a police officer orders a tow of their vehicle. For example, one PIIAC appeal involved a 17-year-old female who was left alone on S.W. Interstate-5 when her car was towed. PIIAC is therefore extremely pleased to note that a General Order on Assisting Motorists (G.O. 630.31) has recently been issued. (See Attachment C.) This new General Order requires that police officers offer assistance to persons who are stranded or in need of assistance (such as, but not limited to, when a person’s vehicle has been towed). PIIAC commends the Police Bureau for this compassionate response to a long-lived problem.
Summary of PIIAC Recommendations
IAD COMPLAINT CATEGORIES (Revised 1/12/00)
1. Force: An allegation of excessive or inappropriate physical or deadly physical force. This includes, but is not limited to, all instances where there is an actual injury or an impact weapon was used.
2. Control Techniques: An allegation that a "control technique" was used unreasonably or improperly. This would include control holds, hobble, "takedowns," and handcuffing. Temporary discomfort, skin discoloration or marks, or temporary pain are considered normal consequences of the use of a control technique.
3. Conduct: An allegation that tends to bring reproach or discredit upon the Bureau or City of Portland. It involves behavior by a Bureau member that is unprofessional, unjustified, beyond the scope of their authority, or unsatisfactory work performance. Typically this would include violation of the Bureau's Standard of Conduct, Conform to Laws, Unsatisfactory Performance, Truthfulness, etc.
4. Disparate Treatment: Allegations of specific actions or statements that indicate inappropriate treatment of 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. Courtesy: Allegations relating to attitude and rude or discourteous conduct other than disparate treatment.
6. Procedure: Allegations that an administrative or procedural requirement was not met. This normally would include G.O.s such as the identification, report writing, notebook entries, and property/evidence handling.
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.