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Public Hearing TODAY on the Police Review Board- 2 PM, CITY HALL

Today at City Hall (1221 SW 4th St) at 2 pm, citizens will ask our city commisioners to accept the findings of a recent audit on the Police Review Board. We demand more transparency and accountability of Portland police! Be there to make your voice known! For more info, please see Portland Copwatch's website.

A long-awaited assessment report on the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR)--Portland's "Civilian Police Review Board"-- was released on January 24. It contains a lot of useful information, with some basic concerns about the IPR system community members have been pointing out for years. This includes that the IPR doesn't do independent investigations, its 9- member Citizen Review Committee (CRC) doesn't have enough power, the public doesn't know the system exists, and those who use it are far less satisfied than the officers who do. It reveals that officers are sometimes not disciplined even after they admit to or are found to have violated Bureau policies. And, perhaps most clearly, it shows that the system is nearly impossible to understand and tends toward "behind the scenes" work instead of being open and transparent to the public.
The 137-page report by nationally recognized expert Eileen Luna-Firebaugh contains at least 3 dozen recommendations, many of which can immediately bring improvements if adopted. Most significantly, it suggests that the IPR should be doing independent investigations not only on its own, but when directed to do so by the CRC. The current ordinance allows such investigations, but the IPR has never done one in its entire 6-year existence.

Luna-Firebaugh further instructs the IPR to assign a staff person directly to the CRC and have them hold more appeal hearings, issue more policy recommendations, and do more outreach.

On the other hand, the report doesn't go far enough. The mistrust the report wisely notes that the community has for the system is based on the IPR's dependence on the Police Bureau. Currently, all investigations of civilian complaints go to the Bureau's Internal Affairs Division (IAD). The report's recommendation is for some investigations to be done by civilian investigators, not all.

The report highlights the "easy" relationship between IPR Director Leslie Stevens and the IAD. In fact, the day after the report was released, Stevens announced she was planning to leave her post to head up the Police Bureau's "Office of Professional Standards." (This brings to mind the old Looney Tunes cartoons in which a wolf and a sheepdog both punch in at the same time clock every day.) While the move to increase independent investigations has much to be said for it, the institutional problem of this cozy relationship is the kind of thing that brings at best a 30% satisfaction rate for citizens who use the IPR system. There is no mention at all of the conflict of interest inherent in the City Attorney advising both the Police Bureau when they get sued for misconduct and the IPR/CRC when they investigate misconduct.

There are many golden nuggets, including the same recommendations some in the community have made for years for additional "findings" of Policy Failure, Supervisory Failure, and Training Failure, presenting reports to Council annually, and compelling officer testimony to the CRC as a condition of employment.

It is clear that Auditor Gary Blackmer is reluctant to adopt many of the report's 35-plus recommendations. However, when the IPR was created, Auditor Blackmer resisted including shootings and deaths in its purview. He now prides himself that the IPR's hiring of outside consultants from the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC) has led to major positive changes in the Bureau's shootings and deaths policies.

The City Council presentation of this report will be held on Thursday, February 28 at 2 PM.

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandcopwatch.org
phone: phone: 503-236-3065

ALERT ****** NEW UPDATE ***** 2/28******** ALERT 28.Feb.2008 11:59

Joe Anybody (reposting an email ALERT2/28/08)12:00 noon

News Item For Immediate Release February 28, 2008

Contact: Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch 503-236-3065

Community Organizations to Hold "People's Hearing" on Police AccountabilityAction Motivated by Cancelled Forum on Portland's Police Review BoardThursday, February 28, 2008, 2:00 PM

***** "outside of" Portland City Hall 1221 SW 4th *****

Representatives of various community organizations will hold a "People's Hearing on Portland's Police Review Board" this Thursday to ensure that City Council hears their concerns. A Council hearing scheduled to take place on Thursday was cancelled by Mayor Tom Potter, who oversaw an assessment done on the Independent Police Review Division (IPR).

Dozens of community members were set to testify about the report's important recommendations, to strengthen the IPR's Citizen Review Committee (CRC) and have the IPR conduct independent investigations. Instead, members of the community will present their testimony at a "People's Hearing" outside of City Hall, 1221 SW 4th, at the time originally set for the hearing, 2 PM on Thursday, February 28.

There will be a table and chairs set up for the Commissioners should they choose to attend the hearing. The Mayor released a statement on Tuesday indicating the Council will discuss the matter at a "work session" in March, at which no public testimony will be taken.

Among those scheduled to testify briefly at the "People's Hearing" will be: --Pastor LeRoy Haynes, Vice President of Albina Ministerial Alliance--Maria Lisa Johnson, Executive Director of the Latino Network--David Fidanque, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oregon--Martin Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Justice for Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot Committee--Kayse Jama, Center for Intercultural Organizing--Carol Cushman, President of the League of Women Voters of Portland--Dan Handelman, founding member of Portland Copwatch--Jason Renaud, Mental Health Association of Portland--Alejandro Queral, former Director of NW Constitutional Rights Center--Aaron Varhola, NW Constitutional Rights Center--Marta Guembes, community member who filed appeal on behalf of Jose Mejia Poot Copies of many of the participants' testimony will be available for the press and will be delivered to City Council, the Council Clerk, and Auditor Gary Blackmer.

Mr. Renaud stated, "the report brings important, timely information about the operations of our IPR which should be considered publicly and responded to immediately and publicly."

JoAnn Bowman of the NW Constitutional Rights Center stated, "The community was promised initally that this hybrid system would be evaluated after the first year, yet it has taken over 5 years to get a review and now the public will not have any say into the evaluation."

Most of the participants will be available for interviews after their testimony.
For more information, contact Portland Copwatch at 503-236-3065 or  copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org .

The Peoples Hearing - Did Happened on the Steps of City Hall... this afternoon 28.Feb.2008 16:04

Joe Anybody iam@joe-anybody.com

I was able to attend this hearing, and did in solidarity, to help promote "peace and justice" with in the community in regards to "police accountability" and to encourage a transparent review process for the public. Not to mention I wanted to document this "public Hearing" to share with those who couldnt make it or wanted the information that was presented. Heck the councilmen who were not there could even watch it (if they care?)(?)

My video will be arriving soon .... right to this PIMC post here!
I taped 93% of the outside hearing (missed about 10 minutes of the begining)

I should be able to post the google video up with in 24 hours from now

There were table and chairs set up for the Commissioners should they choose to attend the hearing ...but none were there (? seems odd huh ?)

The were over about a dozen speakers who stood on the front steps and addressed these serious community concerns

Once again .... no one from city hall was there....

Here is the <video> of the People's Hearing 29.Feb.2008 20:36

Joe Anybody

filmed on the steps of City Hall 2/28