INTERNAL AFFAIRS RELATED AND "LAWS, RULES" DIRECTIVES, JULY 2017
Below are our comments on four Directives posted for review in late June
Our comments on the Force-related Directives are pending, but we have asked for more time on those and hope our request will be granted. We once again had to spend considerable time reviewing these Directives to see what was changed, made all the more challenging by the fact that "First Universal Review" are posted as text and "Second Universal Review" are posted as PDFs, making conversion to text and comparison challenging to say the least.
COMMENTS ON INTERNAL AFFAIRS RELATED AND "LAWS, RULES" DIRECTIVES, JULY 2017
To Chief Marshman, Captain Bell, Captain Krantz, PPB Policy Analysts, Compliance Officer/Community Liaison Team, Community Oversight Advisory Board staff, US Dept. of Justice, Citizen Review Committee and the Portland Police Bureau:
Below are our comments on four Directives posted for review in late June < http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/59757>. Our comments on the Force-related Directives are pending, but we have asked for more time on those and hope our request will be granted. We once again had to spend considerable time reviewing these Directives to see what was changed, made all the more challenging by the fact that "First Universal Review" are posted as text and "Second Universal Review" are posted as PDFs, making conversion to text and comparison challenging to say the least.
Our main concern in the four Directives posted (330.00 Internal Affairs, 331.00 Supervisory Investigations, 332.00 Administrative Investigations and 315.00 Laws Rules and Orders) is that the Bureau seems to have dropped the best-practice national standard of four possible findings in misconduct cases to just two-- Sustained and Not Sustained. It's very difficult to know, though, given that the definitions for these findings are in Directive 335.00-- which was originally posted along with these other ones but not updated here. PCW has been pressuring the Bureau to make the findings on shootings incidents (currently "In Policy / Out of Policy") the same as all other cases ("Sustained, Not Sustained [insufficient evidence], Exonerated [in policy] and Unfounded"). But instead of adding nuance to the shootings cases, it appears the Bureau is taking away nuance from all cases. We guarantee you it makes a difference to a civilian whether you say an officer was within policy or whether you just didn't have enough evidence to prove it; we also know this is true for officers, as one officer appealed an insufficient evidence finding to CRC in recent years, so he could obtain an "Exonerated" finding. Moreover, in deadly force cases, often the alleged activity of the person shot and killed which made an officer say he/she feared for his/her safety is completely subjective, and no response can come from the dead witness. Thus adding "insufficient evidence" to deadly force findings makes more sense than taking it away from other cases.
A general point of confusion is that many Directives refer to the Professional Standards Division and/or Captain, while others refer to the Internal Affairs Captain. Our understanding of the structure is that IA is part of PSD and the Captain is over all of PSD, not just IA. We hope the Bureau can clarify this point.
We generally agree with the comments made by the National Lawyers Guild on these Directives.
We continue to ask the Bureau to generate "red-line" versions of documents to spare us all the time of line-by-line comparisons between old and new Directives. We also believe that the Definitions sections should be numbered for easy reference (look, for example, at the City Code guiding the Independent Police Review, where definitions are numbered) and all sections should be assigned letters or numbers for clarity.
We also can't stress enough how frustrated we are by the Bureau's new practice of rolling out Directives every few days with staggered deadlines. We counted at least 8 separate deadlines in June and July we've tried to meet. Please go back to the old policy of once-a-month posts, with 30 days or more for each comment period.
As usual, our comments are about Procedure sections unless otherwise noted.
DIRECTIVE 330.00 INTERNAL AFFAIRS COMPLAINTS
We sent comments on this Directive last month, including that the Administrative Investigations paragraph (Section 6.1) did not indicate that all Use of Force complaints need to be investigated. The new version cuts the offending language which said investigations would follow if a sustained finding would likely result in disciplinary action. PCW appreciates the change. A new provision explicitly says IA should check an officer's complaint history (Section 4.4.5), as we suggested. The Bureau also appears to have fixed our concern about precinct-level resolutions being documented as all complaints now need to be documented and sent to Internal Affairs (2.1.1).
That said, the Directive still does not call for all Disparate Treatment allegations to be investigated, nor does it prohibit such allegations or Force allegations from being sent to mediation. We think it should.
Although the word "accountability" does appear in Policy Section 1 (as it did in previous Policy Section 1.2), the words "impartiality" and "professionalism" have not been returned from an earlier iteration as we suggested.
We noticed a few other improvements, including that PPB and IPR now look for "patterns" as well as specific behaviors that erode community trust (Policy Section 1. There is also a "Chief O'Dea" clause requiring IA, the Assistant Chief or the Police Commissioner to notify IPR if an officer is under investigation (new Section 2.3). We hope this covers all complaints, because otherwise the Directive doesn't indicate IPR should receive complaints initiated within the Bureau or Commissioner's office--where complaints may now be made per Section 2.1. We do acknowledge, though, that IPR is finally mentioned in the definition of Administrative Investigations, has a section (6.3.1) saying what kinds of cases IPR might investigate, and section 1.1 says IPR is responsible for receiving all complaints.
It's not clear why Supervisory Investigations (formerly Service Complaints/Service Improvement Opportunities) now include complaints that could result in discipline, where discipline is a Letter of Reprimand or Command Counseling (Section 7.1 and 331.00, below). The point of these less-than-full investigations was to handle low level complaints with no discipline attached.
It's also not clear why the new draft cuts a provision that actions prior to investigation attempting to resolve the complaint be documented (previous Section 5.1.5)
We are still concerned about:
--the provision that complaints can be dismissed for being "too vague," which is not in City Code (9.1.2);
--there is no requirement that IA try to determine the identity of officers who are "unidentifiable" before declining an investigation for that reason (9.1.5),
--and, though we failed to include it in our June comments, that IA can decline a case if they think there is "no reasonable possibility that an investigation shall sustain the allegation or the complaint is not credible or reliable" (9.1.7), or if they need to focus resources on "more provable complaints" (9.1.8).
Incidentally, Section 8.1 says mediation can happen if the IPR Director and IA Captain "concludes" it is reasonable (instead of "conclude") and Section 13.1 says "Internal Affair" (singular).
DIRECTIVE 332.00 ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATIONS
As with 330.00, Directive 332.00 now includes IPR in its definition of Administrative Investigations, something we were concerned about. PCW also called attention to the odd provision that allowed officers to ask their non-sustained findings to be withheld from employment information requests, and the Bureau has pulled that provision--so thank you. In addition the Bureau has added that IA investigations must be done in conformity with Bureau Directives (Policy Section 1), a good addition.
However, as noted in our general comments above, this Directive defines Administrative Investigation Findings as "sustained" or "not sustained," and "Administrative Review Findings for Deadly Force" as "in policy" and "out of policy." At least four findings should be available in either type of case, though "unfounded" may never apply to a deadly force situation unless the City wises up and lets community members file complaints in such cases. We continue to object to deadly force being handled as entirely separate from other kinds of cases ("administrative reviews" rather than "investigations"), even though such action is just an extreme example of the continuum of force.
One major change in the Directive says that IA investigators should send recommended findings to the officer's supervisor (Sections 2.1.9 and 4.2). Because a similar provision was struck from a draft of changes to the IPR ordinance, we wonder whether this means IPR will not be allowed to offer recommendations when they conduct the investigation. It's also not clear whether the Commander controverting the IA recommendation triggers a Police Review Board hearing, as would happen if IA controverted the Commander (220.127.116.11). If the case has to go back to IA again, it will just result in more unnecessary delays.
Also, as we mentioned in our June comments:
--A previous requirement, that Internal Affairs contact the complainant and officer every 6 weeks, still has not been re-inserted.
--The timeline to finish investigations begins when the investigator is assigned, rather than when IA receives the case from IPR (2.1.3).
Incidentally, the word "recommendation" appears in the definition of "Debrief" but probably should not be there.
DIRECTIVE 331.00 SUPERVISORY INVESTIGATIONS
As we said in our June comments and many other times (including when we were part of the Stakeholder group on oversight which also recommended this), these minor cases should be called "Non-Disciplinary Complaints" (NDCs). The fact that the name was changed from Service Complaints to Service Improvement Opportunities to Supervisory Investigations just makes it seem as if the Bureau is being petty and childish in ignoring this reasonable community request. That said, as noted in 330.00, we wonder why these Investigations now can include minor complaints that might result in discipline (Letter of Reprimand or Command Counseling) since the definition includes that this is a "non-disciplinary process."
It's also worth noting that there are numerous references to findings being made on these investigations, but the possible findings are not listed in the Directive.
Perhaps we do not fully understand record-keeping at the Bureau, but we hope that Internal Affairs keeps records of the NDCs and their outcomes for 7-10 years as required by Directive 332.00, even if they are not placed in officers' personnel files (Section 18.104.22.168). There's no mention of whether these get entered into the Employee Information System.
PCW continues to be concerned that NDCs are designed to silence complainants who wished to see full investigations, as there is no requirement that the civilian involved approve the case handling or the outcome, only that the Supervisor contact the complainant during the investigation (Section 4.3) and explain the resolution of the complaint (Section 4.9). It is good that supervisors are now required to document their efforts to talk to the complainant (Section 4.3.1), though that seems to apply only to the investigation and not the outcome.
It's also not clear what happens if the RU manager does not approve of the Supervisor's proposed findings, as the Directive only calls upon the manager to approve (Section 3.2).
We're glad that Policy Section 1 and Procedure Section 2.2.2 mention the IPR being involved in/needing to approve of NDCs. As we noted in June, the new name sounds as if only the officer's supervisor will look at the allegations. It's only mildly reassuring that NDCs are only allowed to be used once for the same kind of allegation for an officer within a year-- though it is "the last calendar year" rather than one year prior to the complaint being filed (Section 2.1.2). It's also good that NDCs cannot be used for Disparate Treatment, Force, criminal conduct or misconduct that could result in discipline (presumably, here, meaning time off or worse-- Section 2.1.1).
We called attention to the possibility of NDCs being dismissed and never logged by IA or IPR-- but that has been partially fixed in section 1.1.1 which requires all NDCs to be sent to IA for processing. The Directive doesn't explicitly say that such complaints also have to be shared with IPR until the time they are closed (Section 2.2.2).
Generally speaking, the Directive doesn't seem to take into account if the complainant is a fellow officer, though perhaps the same procedures apply if that is the case.
Finally, we thank the Bureau for removing the two sections we noted as problematic in the old Directive, allowing Supervisors to (a) dismiss complaints stemming from traffic stops if misconduct other than improper stop is alleged (previous Section 5.4.2); or (b) decide a complaint is "grossly illogical or improbable on its face" (previous Section 5.4.3).
315.00 LAWS, RULES AND ORDERS
PCW appreciates the rewrite of Policy Section 1 which clarifies Bureau members have to follow the same rules as everyone else (even though we could point to numerous examples of laws and Bureau rules that give officers "special rights," including how officers are treated after shooting and killing people). However, in the rewrite, the admonishment to follow these laws both on and off duty has been removed. We hope to see that phrase be re-inserted.
It is good that the new Directive incorporates the provision the City agreed to when it signed the US Department of Justice Agreement, a rule that requires officers to sign onto new Directives within 30 days (Section 3.1.1). In addition, the policy now says there could be discipline if they do not (Section 22.214.171.124).
We continue to have concerns that the Bureau's / City's position is that the Portland Police Association's Collective Bargaining Agreement can over-ride Human Resources rules (Section 4.2).
However, we are glad to see that the new Directive clarifies officers only have to obey "lawful" orders from their superiors (Section 5.1).
Please please recognize that if you want to engage the community and claim to practice community policing, you need to spend more time developing your policies with input from the community, not ramming Directives re-negotiated behind closed doors into action with two weeks' notice.
We have noted above a few places where it seems our comments made a difference, and we do appreciate it, though we feel all of our comments are reasonable and should be taken more seriously by the PPB. Feel free to contact us with questions if you need clarification of why we keep asking for the same things when our comments are ignored.
Thank you for the opportunity
(a project of Peace and Justice Works)
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065 (office)
(503) 321-5120 (incident report line)
homepage: http:// http://www.portlandcopwatch.org
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion