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Copwatch: COMMENTS ON PORTLAND POLICE SPECIAL WEAPONS USE DIRECTIVE

This Directive makes it clear that some of the weapons police use-- defined here as including "non-aerosol contained chemical agents, automatic weapons, rifles and other special tactical weapons and ammunition"-- are potentially lethal, as Policy Section 1.2 notes use is guided by Directive 1010.10 Deadly Physical Force. (Which is of course an old designation we assume will be addressed in a new draft.)

While the Directive says use of such weapons is limited to specially trained SERT and Rapid Response Team (RRT) officers (Policy 1.1), it doesn't address what happens when other agencies are employed in crowd control situations. Although the decision to deploy such weapons is limited to the Incident Supervisor (also an old term-- Section 3.1.3), how can the Bureau ensure other agencies aren't giving such weapons to untrained officers to disperse? Whatever chemical agent launched on the Burnside Bridge on January 20 came from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

COMMENTS ON DIRECTIVE 1090.00 SPECIAL WEAPONS USE
We sent these to the powers-that-be yesterday (Friday). Deadline to comment is Feb. 22.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:42:11
From: Portland Copwatch
To: Chief Michael Marshman
Captain Jeff Bell
Captain Mike Krantz
Dennis Rosenbaum
Community Oversight Advisory Board-Mandi Hood
Citizen Review Committee
PPB Directives
Cc: Adrian Brown
Brian Buehler
Jonas Geissler
Seth Wayne
Jaclyn Menditch
News Media
Subject: COMMENTS on PPB Special Weapons Directive

COMMENTS ON SPECIAL WEAPONS USE DIRECTIVE, FEBRUARY 2017

To Chief Marshman, Capt. Bell, Captain Krantz, PPB Policy Analysts, Compliance Officer/Community Liaison Team, Community Oversight Advisory Board, US Dept. of Justice, Citizen Review Committee and the Portland Police Bureau:

Below are Portland Copwatch's comments on the Special Weapons Directive (1090.00) < https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/624834> posted for review in January. We repeat here our previous request that the Bureau post general outlines of its intent to change Directives, since the posted drafts now mostly reflect existing policies with minor (numbering) changes.

We also continue to believe that the Bureau's public input mechanism for body camera policies, wherein all public comments were posted on line so people could see each others' ideas, should be extended to all policy input. < http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/521411>

We appreciate that this Directive has a numbered section on definitions, but think each subsection should be numbered as with Policy and Procedure.

COMMENTS ON DIRECTIVE 1090.00 SPECIAL WEAPONS USE

First of all, we repeat here our concerns noted in our comments on the Crowd Control Directive about the use of violence and weapons by police in crowd situations.

This Directive makes it clear that some of the weapons police use-- defined here as including "non-aerosol contained chemical agents, automatic weapons, rifles and other special tactical weapons and ammunition"-- are potentially lethal, as Policy Section 1.2 notes use is guided by Directive 1010.10 Deadly Physical Force. (Which is of course an old designation we assume will be addressed in a new draft.)

While the Directive says use of such weapons is limited to specially trained SERT and Rapid Response Team (RRT) officers (Policy 1.1), it doesn't address what happens when other agencies are employed in crowd control situations. Although the decision to deploy such weapons is limited to the Incident Supervisor (also an old term-- Section 3.1.3), how can the Bureau ensure other agencies aren't giving such weapons to untrained officers to disperse? Whatever chemical agent launched on the Burnside Bridge on January 20 came from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

It also seems there should be far more restrictions on the use of such weapons than to leave it to the discretion of a supervisor. While we do not agree with their use at all, an example of how the Bureau has limited weapons use can be seen in the operational plan for a March 4, 2012 protest that was circulated to the Citizen Review Committee's Crowd Control Work Group. (We've posted a copy at
< http://www.pjw.info/copwatch/PPB_crowd_orders_030112.pdf>)

The plan says:

1. Officers will use mere presence, verbalization, and hands on to accomplish primary mission. [Copwatch comment: Oftentimes mere presence, especially when dressed in riot gear, escalates the situation rather than de-escalates, as we discussed in our Crowd Control comments.]

2. Pepper Spray authorized usage pursuant to Directive 1010.20 and 1040.00. (Bold) Red Sabre MK9 style cans only to be used by supervisors. (end bold) [Copwatch comment: These cans are like fire extinguishers full of chemical agents. The indiscriminate use of such agents on a crowd means that even if some people are engaged in violence, everyone is subjected to the spray. We've raised questions about how this meets international standards prohibiting collective punishment.]

3. FN303 will be primarily used to target individuals throwing projectiles. [Copwatch comment: The FN303 is a "multi-shot less lethal" weapon that is, according to Wikipedia, designed to "incapacitate the target through blunt force trauma without causing critical injuries" as the ammunition breaks up on impact. We are highly concerned about the possession and use of this weapon by PPB. That said, we noted in our crowd control comments that "projectiles" should be narrowly defined to something capable of creating more of an injury than a paper cut.]

4. 37mm/sting balls are authorized when taking projectiles likely to cause physical injury from a hostile group and there is no individual target for FN. [Copwatch comment: A manufacturer's site shows a grenade which contains 105 "high-durometer" rubber balls for crowd control. This seems particularly vicious, and again, even if there's a "hostile crowd" and some legitimately potentially injurious objects are being thrown, it doesn't justify injuring the entire crowd.]

5. They will NOT be used on a non-hostile crowd where a suspect has run into [sic]. [Copwatch comment: agreed]

6. (bold) Smoke/Chemical munitions authorized only by [Incident Commander]. (end bold) [Copwatch comment: There's no direction on when such munitions shall be used, and it seems odd that only supervisors can use the pepper spray fire extinguishers but they only have to authorize other gas use.]

We hope that such limitations will be put in the Bureau's new draft of this Directive, but moreover that the PPB will reconsider its use of these weapons. Both the Directive and the 2012 engagement rules were written before the PPB started using "Flash-bangs" and we hope also to see those banned, but if not, the issue of using them by firing them at/toward a crowd where direct contact could cause serious injury must be addressed.

Again, as we said with the Crowd Control directive, we're not here to help you harm us or fellow community members, but we do want to make sure the Bureau doesn't become more of a militarized occupation force, and keeps itself in check with strong policies subject to discipline if violated.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
--dan handelman and other members of
Portland Copwatch

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandcopwatch.org