III. MONITORING ACTIVITY
The Monitoring Subcommittee randomly monitors closed cases, including those that involve use of force, disparate treatment, complaints with sustained findings, and cases that went to PPB’s Review Level Committee. From January through April 2001 we audited 22 of the 56 IAD cases that were closed.
(Note: A single complaint may reflect multiple allegations and findings and may involve more than one officer.)
Sustained complaints were initiated both internally (from Police Bureau members) and externally (from citizens). Sustained allegations included courtesy, use of force, performance, and conduct issues.
The average completion time of audited cases (excluding declined cases) was 15 months. The average completion time of audited cases in the previous two quarters was 14 months.
IV. NEW ISSUES
Telephone interviews by IAD investigators sometimes fall short of the high interview standards set by the Police Bureau simply because they are conducted over the phone. At times these interviews interrupt complainants and witnesses at work and provide them little opportunity to prepare themselves for the interview. A number of appellants have stated that they would have preferred a face-to-face interview. Some did not understand that the telephone interview was a formal recorded interview and expected to be called in at a later date. Although sometimes telephone interviews are unavoidable or preferred by the person being interviewed, we recommend that citizens be given the option of a face-to-face interview or a telephone interview and that they be advised that interviews are tape recorded to preserve the accuracy of statements.
Interview Question Lists
We have noted higher quality of interviews in which written questions were prepared by the investigator prior to the interview. The Institute of Police Technology and Management, a nationally recognized training institution, recommends this practice in its Police Internal Affairs course. We recommend that interview questions be prepared by investigators whenever practical and that the question lists be made part of the IAD file.
Crisis Intervention Training
We continue to see allegations involving escalation of use of force and communication problems with persons who appear to be mentally ill or emotionally distraught. We recommend that all Portland Police officers receive ongoing crisis intervention and communication skills training to defuse difficult situations involving persons with mental or emotional disabilities.
Early Warning System
Although we noted one case (IAD Case #00-422) in which all involved officers gave the complainant their PPB business cards, we continue to see complaints about officers’ reluctance to provide their names and DPSST numbers to citizens. We recommend that all officers be provided standardized Bureau-issued business cards with the officer’s name, rank, and DPSST number and that officers be instructed to provide citizens with their business card whenever it is safe and practical to do so. This would curb some complaints and and would demonstrate a willingness of police officers to promote the tenets of community policing.
PIIAC has noted that the term "distraction technique" is frequently used by officers and supervisors to describe striking a suspect to gain compliance. The Training Division has informed PIIAC that the "distraction technique" or "distraction principal" is not an approved technique and that officers are taught to strike a person only in response to a physical threat. However, there is a clearly documented pattern involving the use of this technique by Portland Police officers for at least the past five years. This term is immediately identified and understood by officers, sergeants, command staff and is routinely used in police reports and IAD interviews. It is a practice that has been strongly questioned by at least two precinct commanders.
The "distraction technique" was first brought up as a concern in the First Quarter 1996 PIIAC Monitoring Report:
"Both PPB command staff and the PIIAC Monitoring Subcommittee have noted several situations where officers described having used force as a ‘distraction technique.’ In several cases we monitored, the officer, in the police report and IAD interview, explained that he had struck, kneed or kicked a combative or resisting subject to distract the subject enough to get him under control. One police report said that the ‘technique’ was used to ‘direct pain to another part of the body’ to gain compliance. Another officer said he ‘applied a kick.’ Several officers said their awareness of distraction techniques came from their defensive tactics instruction. Although PPB does not prohibit officers from hitting, kicking or kneeing if essential, there are no Bureau-approved ‘distraction techniques.’
"We will be monitoring this closely. PPB Command Staff has already commented on this issue, advising supervisors and complaint investigators to use good judgment and commnon sense when assessing excessive use of force complaints and not be swayed by the idea of ‘distraction techniques.’" (Page 6, 1996 First Quarter PIIAC Monitoring Report)
In a May 9, 1996, memorandum to PIIAC, a Senior Risk Specialist stated she was currently investigating a tort claim "where ‘distraction blows’ were used by one of the officers involved."
In IAD case #99-070, Commander Derrick Foxworth of Northeast Precinct wrote a Letter of Finding in which he stated the following with regard to "the distraction principle":
"I have raised this issue with you before in other IAD recommendations. I have also had conversations with you (Captain [Bret] Smith), Training Division, and the CHO [Chief’s Office] regarding the distraction principle. In this case, Officer ____ punched the complainant twice in the torso while yelling for the complainant to ‘show me your hands." This may not necessarily be the best tactic available to officers to gain compliance. Under our current training this practice is allowable [italics added]. I strongly feel that our tactics as it relates to someone on the ground with their hands underneath them can be improved. Merely punching someone and yelling to show me your hands does nothing to control the situation or what the person may do when they finally show their hands…. I strongly feel that we need to emphasize control techniques (pressure points, wrist and arm bars) which may be more effective at controlling a situation versus punching and yelling. I believe our officers and the public would be better served."
In IAD case #99-193, Commander Larry Findling of Central Precinct wrote the following:
"The attempt to take him into custody lasted for a short time (less than one minute?) and a distraction blow was delivered to make the CO [complainant] comply. Eventually complainant was handcuffed." On the next page, Commander Findling continued: "…it should be noted that there was a distraction blow delivered by one of the officers. The officer who delivered the blow named it as such. He said in his police report that it did not work as anticipated. The blow (though not fully described in the report) was a punch to CO’s ribs in an effort to distract CO from his resistance long enough so the officers could get his hands behind his back and get him handcuffed. The officer expected just a momentary break in CO’s concentration to facilitate the handcuffing. What happened was it made the CO more upset, an observation made by other officers and the CO. The officer who delivered it admitted it did not work; in fact, it backfired."
In IAD case #98-222, in the interview of one of the officers, the IAD investigator, in asking about an alleged blow to the complainant’s head or jaw, asked the officer, "Did one of you hit [the complainant] in the back of the head or the jaw?… No distraction?" The officer replied, "No, it wasn’t needed."
In IAD case #98-170 the complainant alleged that an officer struck him in the jaw with his fist and choked him while telling him to spit out what the officer believed to be a controlled substance in his mouth. In his Letter of Finding, Commander Foxworth again strongly questioned the appropriateness of this technique, stating 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 it is 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."
Captain Bret Smith of IAD wrote in the Disposition Letter for this case "that a debriefing of the incident with Officer [X] would be done" and that "the Training Division has also been advised of the incident and direction has been given from the Chief’s Office to look into an officer’s use of force while attempting to secure evidence."
We recommend that the practice of teaching and using force for the purpose of "distraction" be thoroughly examined and, if found to be an unjustifiable and inappropriate use of force, that the Bureau should order the discontinuation of this practice.
Photographic Evidence in Use of Force Incidents
A serious drawback to evaluating excessive use of force allegations is the frequent absence of any real-time photographic evidence of the use of force. Jail booking photographs, when available, are often useful in assessing facial injuries and determining if the allegation made by the complainant corresponds with the photographic evidence. It is our understanding that it is current PPB policy to issue a Polaroid camera to all officers. Whether or not there is a visible sign of injury, it would be in everyone’s best interest if officers were to take a photograph of the subject in incidents involving use of force and attach this photograph to the use of force report.
Written Response of Chief to PIIAC Recommendations
It is specified in City Code 3.21.100 that "the Chief, after reviewing a report provided by the Committee, shall respond promptly to the Committee in writing, but in no event more than 60 days after receipt of the Committee report."
Although the Chief responded in person to the City Council regarding the recommendations of the Third and Fourth Quarters 2000 Monitoring Report, we have not received a written response; nor have we received a written response to the Council’s recommended change of findings on IAD Case #98-054.
V. UNRESOLVED ISSUES
To our knowledge, the following previous issues have not been resolved.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
FIRST AND SECOND QUARTERS YEAR 2001
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
THIRD AND FOURTH QUARTERS YEAR 2000
ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE PIIAC MONITORING SUBCOMMITTEE
Addition of a complaint categories to include disparate treatment based on race.
Discontinuation of the Bureau’s "File Pending Court" policy to suspend complaint investigations
Use of internal investigations information as a management tool for identifying "high complaint" officers.
Sending a written notice to the complainant to acknowledge receipt of an inquiry.
Establishing criteria for inquiries and declinations.
Requiring that all investigations and inquiries be numbered.
Checking officers’ prior complaint history when investigating a complaint and noting if a similar prior complaint has been filed.
Classification of all excessive use of force complaints as Internal Investigations Division (IID) cases and not to consider these as inquiries or declinations.
Including a Notice of Right to Appeal as part of the letter sent by the Police Bureau as a result of an adverse decision.
Maintaining and publishing declination statistics.
Requiring that inquiry investigative files be maintained at IID rather than at the precincts or another department.
Retaining copies of all disposition letters to complainants in IID.
Retention of tape recordings of intake telephone calls.
Keeping of statistics regarding all declinations
Treating all allegations of misconduct as "complaints" (even those that are declined or otherwise resolved)
Keeping documentation in IID of complaints filed with precincts.
Maintaining inquiry investigative files at IID rather than at the precinct or responsible unit.
Maintaining records of all IID and inquiry investigations in the officers’ complaint files.
No monitoring records available
Sending complainants detailed letters to explain the findings.
Providing investigative guidelines for IID investigators.
Conducting a review of high risk stop procedure
Establishing and maintaining a central records system for all complaints.
Requiring that investigations that are diverted to the precincts or other units be tracked and returned to IID.
Requiring that commanding officers making recommendations on findings also provide the rationale for the recommended findings.
Requiring IID investigators to ask officers specific questions to elicit facts about the allegations (as opposed to asking the officer if the alleged behavior was "in compliance with Bureau guidelines."
Documenting reasons for missing taped interviews in IID files.
Revising the one year rotation policy for IID investigators so that they can devolep experience in handling IID complaints.
Requiring that any member of the Police Bureau who receives a complaint of misconduct or observes misconduct shall document and forward the complaint to IIID.
Providing training for officers and supervisors on dealing with difficult people in difficult situations and on responding to diverse groups, and communication skills and tactics.
Requiring Command Review of officers with high numbers of IID complaints.
Implementing an investigative checklist/activity log in IID.
Providing a written letter to complainants acknowledging that their complaints have been received and which detective has been assigned the case.
Including in the IID file a notation of any special circumstances that may have led to a delay on completing the investigation within recommended timelines.
Providing a course for PIIAC Citizen Advisors on PPB’s Use of force policies and practices.
Incorporating information on inappropriate statements about complainants in new investigator training.
PIIAC review of Risk Management records as an adjunct to IID monitoring.
Applying all appropriate categories to allegations contained in a complaint.
Categorization of complaints to be made by the Internal Affairs commander.
Not allowing a finding of "unsubstantiated" for allegations involving excessive force. (The "unsubstantiated" finding category was subsequently discontinued.)
Including the Bureau definitions and the rationale for findings in letters of disposition to complainants.
Describing specific behaviors rather than labeling complainants as mentally ill, "mental", 12-34," etc.
[In 1995 Internal Investigations Division’s name changed to Internal Affairs Division (IAD)]
Developing a tracking system for IAD declinations.
Providing letters of disposition and notice of right to PIIAC appeal to all complainants, including cases that are given a finding category of declined, miscellaneous, or suspended.
Following the same procedures in precinct investigations as are used in IAD.
That precinct supervisors not investigate serious allegations, such as Excessive Use of Force.
Providing for a fifth IAD investigator position.
Obtaining case management computer software for IAD.
Reporting findings for each allegation in Letters of Disposition.
Discontinuing the ability to decline any Use of Force cases.
Requiring that officers provide their BPSST identification numbers if asked for a "badge number."
Handling minor procedural violations identified during investigation of a complaint as performance issues, separate from the main complaint procedure.
Notifying PPB officers of their right to appeal to PIIAC.
Developing a mechanism by which supervisors may conduct a debriefing when there is a non-sustained finding but the situation could have been handled better .
Making complaint brochures available in various languages.
Increasing the number of IAD investigators.
Issuing a General Order directing officers to make every attempt to assist persons whose vehicles are towed to reach a safe location.
Providing additional communication training to officers.
Providing ongoing refresher courses in diversity for all officers.
Reviewing the General Order on Courtesy with respect to use of profanity.
Examining the fee schedule for public records and lowering the charge to the public for certain records (e.g., address query requests lowered from $50.00 to $5.00).
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.
7. Inquiry: The investigation concerns an allegation of a minor rule violation that, if substantiated, would not result in discipline.