1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
June 15, 2009 00:00
Two community meetings were held in April to solicit feedback from the public on the Portland Police Bureau’s Plan to Address Racial Profiling. The first meeting on April 2 was at the East Portland Community Center. On April 8, community members attended the second meeting held at the King Elementary School.
The agendas for both meetings were the same. Chief Rosie Sizer and Director Maria Lisa Johnson welcomed the participants. Commissioner Dan Saltzman attended the April 8 meeting and encouraged community members to become actively engaged in problem solving and working with the police on solid solutions. Chief Sizer provided the history and background information on evolvement of the Plan to the attendees.
At each session, after opening remarks, community members were asked to sit at one of four tables identified by the four major strategies of the Plan: Data Collection, Training, Recruitment/Hiring and Community Engagement. Police members served as a resource for the groups when questions arose. Facilitators from the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of Human Relations helped guide the discussion. Each group was asked to address two questions: • What suggestions do you have to strengthen our approach to the proposed strategy? • What challenges do you see in the strategy and why?
Scribes summarized suggestions and concerns and after a brief break the facilitators reported back to the large group the highlights of the discussions. The break out session summaries is included.
While we have attempted to provide consistency in the reporting out of the various discussions, readers will note distinctions. Each group took different approaches to the topics. The facilitators and scribes were appreciated for their ability in synthesizing through a myriad of comments.
With a smaller group of community members at the April 2 meeting, there was an increased opportunity to have more one-on-one conversations between participants and police. Instead of four separate table top discussions, the four strategies were combined (Recruitment/Hiring and Training; Data Collection and Community Engagement).
At the April 8 meeting, attendance significantly increased and each of the four break out sessions were at capacity.
The Bureau had posted the Plan on our website prior to the community meetings in the hopes that community members would take time to read through the strategies and provide feedback at the two community meetings. It was clear at both meetings that attendees did not have the opportunity to read the plan and, although we handed copies out, the discussion was not as focused on the elements of the plan. A feedback sheet was distributed at both meetings so attendees could submit additional suggestions and comments. Only a couple of participants took advantage of this opportunity. Their comments are added to the end of this report.
What are the next steps for the Police Bureau? After participating in the two community meetings, the Chief and command staff had an opportunity to review the feedback within the context of the four priorities of Data Collection, Training, Recruitment/Hiring and Community Engagement. The Bureau continues to work with the Office of Human Relations on several projects to enhance communication between the various communities of color and police.
• Community and Police Relations Committee – partnered with the Office of Human Relations – brings together members of Portland’s diverse communities and its police officers to improve community and police relations, further an authentic community policing culture, and promote dignity, understanding, and respect in police and community interactions.
• Dialogues and other community engagement strategies – officers will participate in group dialogues relating to issues of race relations.
• East Precinct is also working with the Office of Human Relations to develop public service announcements for Latino television and radio about the problems of prostitution along 82nd Avenue and Sandy Blvd.
Customer service practices are critical to improving police and community relationships. The Bureau will change its policy and require business cards to be handed out at traffic stops and pedestrian stops by officers and they advise the individual as to the reason for the stop through a written warning or citation.
For more information on projects initiated through the Office of Human Relations and the Commission on Human Rights, please visit the OHR website at www.portlandonline.com/humanrelations.
For information on Portland Police Bureau events, activities, and projects, please visit our website at www.portlandpolice.com.
Sgt. Pete Simpson