Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
JULY 10, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING MINUTES
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; David Burney, Less Frank, Deborah Haring, Stephen Heck, Emily Simon, Robert Ueland, Robert Wells, Randy Weisberg
Citizen Advisors Absent: Marina Anttila, Shanisse Howard, Jim Taylor
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Leo Painton, Portland Police Association
Media Present: David Anderson, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
[Simon had not yet arrived.] Ford called the meeting to order and welcomed Capt. Bennington, who is again IAD commander. Botsko asked that review of the June minutes be postponed as a draft had not yet been completed.
PIIAC Appeal #97-11 Botsko summarized. The appellant had been arrested on a prostitution mission. His complaint alleged that the arrest was not appropriate, since he had only been chatting with whom he later learned was a decoy officer, and he had declined her offer for sex. The conversation so unnerved him that he drove to a nearby store parking lot, where he was set upon by two PPB officers who opened his truck door and began yelling at him. He could not understand what they were saying.
The appellant claimed that he offered no resistance, only asked what was going on, and the next thing he knew he was being yanked out of his vehicle by his hair. He said he was taken to the ground roughly. Later, he was treated rudely when being given an exclusion and citation. He said he was refused access to his reading glasses and he did not want to sign the paperwork until he could read it. The appellant denied certain statements made in the police report.
Officer testimony was that an arrest was made only when the appellant solicited the decoy. Both arresting officers were interviewed by IAD and said the appellant testimony both indicated that they asked the appellant numerous times to get out of the car but he continually refused. Only at that point did they physically remove him and take him to the ground. The appellant continued to want to argue the whole time he was being issued a citation.
The appellant was not present.
Ueland made a motion to affirm the PPB's finding; Wells seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
Monitoring Subcommittee: Ueland reported. He summarized the draft of the Second Quarter 1997 report.
Simon asked about the Use of Force declination issue that the subcommittee was working on with Capt. Jensen before his transfer. Ueland said that the subcommittee thought that a more specific definition of "use of force" should be developed. Botsko said that Capt. Jensen had proposed that any time IAD declined a complaint with a use of force categorization, it automatically be appealed to PIIAC, with all the authority for return that an appeal carries. Weisberg agreed that better definitions would help. He commented on the Chief's response to the First Quarter report, in which the Chief disagreed that Use of Force cases were being declined. Weisberg asked Botsko to amend the 2nd Quarter report to include specific case numbers of those use of force cases declined. She agreed.
Botsko mentioned a paragraph stating that PPB had a new General Order regarding BPSST numbers, that requires officers to provide this number to citizens who ask for badge numbers. This was what advisors had recommended in previous reports. She asked advisors if the Second Quarter report should recommend that the Bureau's G.O. on Identification similarly be revised. The advisors said yes.
Ueland talked about mitigation, a process that all city employees can request before receiving discipline. Weisberg said he found it disturbing that the Chief was actually reversing findings previously made, after the mitigation process. Simon was concerned whether PIIAC received information about those changes.
Capt. Bennington said that Capt. Jensen may have made a decision, shortly before transferring, not to notify PIIAC of findings until final decisions were made, because technically the investigation may not be finished. Simon asked if notification of the complainant would be similarly postponed, and if this new policy has been committed to writing. Bennington said he did not know, this was information shared by office support staff. Evidently Capts. Jensen and Kauffman had been working on this issue, as well as the question about when final notification letters should be mailed to complainants.
Ford said that concern was unwarranted as long as the committee does not yet know what the policy is. Botsko requested that PPB discuss any proposed policy change with PIIAC before it is actually implemented.
Weisberg made a motion that the report reflect this request; Simon seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
Weisberg asked about a draft recommendation suggesting a timeline of 60 days for the mitigation process. Leo Painton, PPA union president, explained that officers have experienced lengthy delays during the disciplinary process. Once a letter of proposed discipline is sent to an officer, that officer has a certain amount of time to respond, but there are no timeliness standards for the Bureau. Simon asked if the timeliness goal should be from the time an officer receives the notification of proposed discipline until the date of mitigation is offered. Painton said yes.
Ueland talked about the a case of deadly force that was not investigated well. This is described in the monitoring report. Simon asked what PPB protocol is in deadly force situations. Capt. Bennington said that PPB has a General Order that covers this. In the case described by Ueland, the system broke down. He said Review Level Committee does look at policy and training issues inherent in each deadly force case. Leo Painton said that the Detectives' Division has an entire protocol for handling these cases. One of the problems with this case was that evidence got moved. Also, the District Attorney's office has timeliness problems and don't adhere to any type of timeliness standard.
Weisberg said this case illustrated problems with the mitigation process, in that a final decision was postponed for a year. Simon says she knows PPB has a protocol, the issue is the quality of this particular case.
Burney made a motion to adopt or reject the draft recommendation urging PPB to refine or adopt a deadly force investigation protocol. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Simon made a motion to remove the recommendation except for one sentence. Ueland seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
Weisberg asked Capt. Bennington what he thought about a recommendation for possible outside review of cases involving possible conflict of interest. Capt. Bennington said that he saw no need for outside investigation but it should be the Commissioner's call. Weisberg said there needs to be a specific mechanism for such cases; the ability to make referrals should be in place.
Botsko said that city attorneys had spoken with her about the report's discussion of how a particular high-profile case had been handled. The attorneys had felt that the wording of the criticism was rather inflammatory. She was passing the message along to advisors for their consideration. Weisberg asked why the attorneys did not personally attend the advisory meeting to address advisors. Simon said that she did not view the report as inflammatory in the least.
Simon made a motion to keep that section of the report as is. Ueland seconded. The motion carried [Y-8; N-Frank].
[Heck left the meeting.]
Simon thanked the monitoring subcommittee for their work on the report.
Weisberg said he had remaining concerns about an issue that has not yet been addressed, and that is IAD's practice of declining certain complaints even after conducting preliminary investigation. He felt that was inappropriate, that if IAD went to the trouble of conducting enough investigation to determine whether or not the complaint had merit, then it deserved an actual finding.
Ueland moved to adopt the monitoring report as amended; Simon seconded. The motion carried unanimously. [Y-8].
Botsko announced that PIIAC needs a citizen advisor to represent them at the Chief's Forum. Ford said he was disappointed at the lack of action with the Forum. Ueland said he was a new appointee to the Forum, representing his neighborhood organization. The role of the Forum has been a recent topic of discussion, and Forum members have expressed a desire to play an advisory role, rather than have the Forum simply be informational in nature.
Handelman addressed the panel. He said he did not understand the bifurcation proposal described in the draft monitoring report. He asked if the policy would apply to serious issues. He was also upset about the idea of the Chief changing findings during mitigation and wondered how that would be handled if the complainant subsequently appealed to PIIAC. He also wanted clarification about when complainants would receive notification letters. With respect to deadly force cases, an investigative checklist is a good idea. He requested that advisors bring up the issue again if they see a pattern.
He advised that his cable-access television program would feature the advisors' June meeting. He provided air dates and times.
The meeting adjourned.