Chief's Remarks to the Portland City Council Regarding OIR Audit of Officer-Involved Shootings

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July 17, 2013 16:15

  

Today, Wednesday July 17, 2013, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade and the OIR Group presented their review of Portland Police Bureau officer involved shootings to the Portland City Council.

Chief Mike Reese made the following comments regarding the report:

"I want to thank the Mayor, City Council and the Auditor for the opportunity to respond to the second report by the OIR Group regarding six police officer involved shootings and one in-custody death.

"The investigation and review of deadly force encounters and in-custody deaths provide a critical lens with which to view a police department. In no small way, these incidents are where transparency, accountability and the community's trust in their police officers are measured.

"This report by the OIR Group is another positive step forward in assisting the Police Bureau in building that trust and developing meaningful improvements to how we respond to officer involved shootings and in-custody deaths.

"As a department we embrace these changes and as our written response indicates and the audit points out; we have already implemented many of the suggestions made by OIR.

"There will always be room for improvement in both the tactical response to these events as well as the post event investigations. The Police Bureau is committed to continuous improvement and complete transparency in how we investigate and analyze these incidents.

"During the past decade, we have made significant changes in the way we investigate all uses of force, and we continue to work toward streamlining the effectiveness and timeliness of our review processes.

"I would like to thank the OIR Group once again for their thorough and professional approach to this review. They continue to provide the Police Bureau with constructive recommendations as well as highlighting the challenges that critical incidents present to police officers and police departments.

"Lastly, I want to point out the good work being done by the men and women in our organization every day. These officers respond with courage and a commitment to public service that deserves recognition. In many instances they put their own lives on the line to protect the safety of the community. I appreciate their hard work and their dedication, and I am humbled to serve as the Chief of Police. Thank you."

The Portland Police Bureau thanks City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade and the OIR Group for the thorough and professional review of its officer involved shooting investigations reviews. The Group continues to provide the Bureau with thoughtful and constructive recommendations as well as highlighting the challenges that critical incidents present to the men and women of the Police Bureau.

OIR acknowledged that the Portland Police Bureau has made most of the recommended improvements on its own in the years following the reviewed incidents.

During the past several years, the Portland Police Bureau has made significant and numerous changes to its policies, procedures, and training, especially in the areas of force and discipline. It has made changes in the way it investigates use of force and in-custody deaths, and continues to work toward streamlining the effectiveness and timeliness of its review process.

In particular, the Portland Police Bureau has implemented the following:

* Required all sworn members to attend a standardized In-Service training that emphasizes skills necessary to safely and effectively perform patrol functions with a minimal reliance on force. This ensures that patrol function skills are kept current and do not perish when members move to specialized assignments.

* Require all uses of force (or complaints of use of force) by members to be documented and investigated by a supervisor at the time of their occurrence. This investigation is reviewed by the involved member's Lieutenant, Captain or Commander, and the Branch Assistant Chief.

* Instituted a new Officer-Involved Shooting Review Process Standard Operating Procedure. This includes specific steps and criteria to ensure the officer-involved shooting reviews created by the Training Division staff accurately measure the involved member's performance against training received prior to the incident.

* Continued to train officers, supervisors and command officers to identify the clear legal standing and goal of a tactical incident, determine the necessary resources to accomplish the goal, and to make a plan to accomplish the goal with the least reliance on force possible.

* Trained officers, supervisors, command officers, and Critical Incident Commanders on the additional challenges, resources, and strategies to use when on an incident involving someone in a mental or behavioral health crisis.

* Provided training to new officers in the Advanced Academy, new sergeants in the Sergeant's Academy, and even new Fire Bureau supervisors on the need to preserve evidence at crime scenes while ensuring the dignity of the deceased.

* In 2011, the Bureau presented a crime scene management class at the "Sergeants In-service" training. In 2012, a crime scene management class, which covered officer-involved shootings, was presented at In-service training.

* Purchased and deployed ballistic shields in the trunks of the majority of supervisor patrol units in 2010 and has trained all officers on their location and use at in-service.

* During 2013 In-Service, the Taser Policy changes and content were instructed by Deputy City Attorneys in a classroom setting. Highly trained Taser Instructors taught the practical application of the changes. Scenarios involving the use of the Taser were also used to measure officers understanding of the policy, practical application, and proper use.

The Portland Police Bureau remains committed to continual improvement and transparency.

For more information on the Police Bureau's specific responses to the Audit's recommendation, visit:

http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=54263&a=455591

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