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The City of Portland, Oregon

Independent Police Review

Independent Police Review is a police oversight agency, and is independent and autonomous from the Portland Police Bureau.

phone: 503-823-0146

fax: 503-823-4571

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204

November 14, 1996

Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
NOVEMBER 14, 1996

Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila, Etta Baker, David Burney, Deborah Haring, Robert Peterson, Todd Olson, Emily Simon, Ingrid Slezak, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Robert Wells, Randy Weisberg
City Staff Present: Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Jeff Baumann, Neighborhood Mediation Center; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; PPB Capt. Greg Clark, Detectives Division; Sgt. Scott Gratton, IAD; Capt. C.W. Jensen, IAD; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Sgt. Irving McGeechy, IAD; PPB Assistant Chief Dave Williams
Media Present: Dave Anderson, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. He introduced two new citizen advisors -- Robert Wells, appointed by Commissioner Hales, and Robert Peterson, appointed by North Portland Neighborhood Office.
Olson made a motion to accept the October meeting minutes; Anttila seconded. The motion carried [Y-11; Abstain-Slezak].
A PIIAC appeal was taken out of order so that Simon, who had announced a conflict of interest with the appeal, could arrive later and not be present during the appeal review.
PIIAC Appeal #96-16: Anttila and Botsko summarized. The appellant was not in attendance.
This was a use-of-force complaint declined by IAD after preliminary investigation. The complainant did not think she needed to be pepper-sprayed as she was being placed into the back of a police car during an arrest. She admitted to "cursing like crazy" and kicking at the officer. One of her shoes had come off during the kicking. This corroborated information contained in police reports. Although the investigation was probably sufficient, use of force cases should have formal findings rather than be declined. The question to be answered is: "Was the degree of force appropriate for the circumstances?"
Capt. Jensen disagreed. He believed that once that question had been answered in this case, it was appropriate to decline.
Ueland moved to return the case to the Bureau so that a finding of "Exonerated" could be applied.
Botsko advised that the motion was improper, advisors technically cannot recommend findings be changed. They could however, request that the case be returned so that the finding could be reviewed by PPB staff. Ueland withdrew his motion.
Weisberg moved to remand the case to PPB for reclassification and the application of a formal finding. Anttila seconded. The motion carried [Y-10; N-Olson; Abstain-Ford].
Presentation: Julien Minard and Emmanuel Paris from the Office of Neighborhood Mediation were on hand to provide an update of the Police-Citizen Mediation Program. Minard distributed some statistics. She said that since NMC last addressed the advisors in August, IAD had sent 16 more mediations to them. NMC has also established a 30 - 45 day completion goal. Three more mediations have been completed, for a total of six since the program began. They hope to complete the initial ten by the end of December.
[Simon arrived.]
Slezak asked what steps NMC has taken since the last presentation to improve case management. Minard introduced volunteer Jeff Baumann and said that NMC has taken the advisors' previous suggestion to utilize the volunteers. Ueland suggested that officers who have agreed to mediation be kept updated if the complainants cause a delay.
PIIAC Appeal #96-18: Weisberg summarized. The appellant was not in attendance.
The appellant complained about with his neighbor, Officer A. The appellant, a single father, had two sons, ages 12 and 13, who had apparently had previous conflicts with Officer A. The appellant felt that Officer A had overstepped his authority by referring to his status as a police officer when trying to complain about the boys' noisiness, such as when the boys were playing in the front yard or setting off smoke snakes. He had allegedly threatened to contact the Children's and Family Services Division and put the boys in a foster home.
During the latest incident, the father had been out-of-state and his ex-wife babysitting at the home. The boys and some friends were "camping out" in the backyard, playing on a trampoline and making too much noise at a very late hour. Officer A contacted BOEC; a uniformed officer responded, got the boys to quiet down, and left without taking further action or writing a report. The following day, Officer A submitted an informational report which was classified as "Child Neglect," and referred the family to CSD. Copies of this report were supposedly sent to CSD and the Juvenile Justice courts; however, Officer A's supervisor had not signed this report for
reasons unknown.
Weisberg believed that PPB mishandled this case. Although Capt. Jensen had sent it to the precinct as an Inquiry, Capt. Clark had seen nothing wrong and forwarded the case to Assistant Chief Williams with a request that it be closed with no further action. Williams had signed off without explanation. Weisberg felt that this ignored the very real possibility that the officer had abused his authority; PPB General Orders prohibit officers from using their positions to gain a personal privilege a regular citizen could not gain, and in this case, that may have been the ability to lodge a complaint with CSD by way of a police report rather than by just calling the way a regular citizen would do. PPB General Orders also prohibit officers from using their position to intimidate or influence in a personal dispute. For example, officers should avoid making arrests or issuing citations in personal quarrels unless absolutely necessary.
Weisberg did not have strong feelings about having IAD investigate allegations that the uniformed officer was rude during his contact with the appellant's ex-wife. He also did not think the case merited further investigation, but a commander should look at possible officer misconduct.
Capt. Clark addressed the panel. He explained that IAD had not provided all of the background information. After reading the IAD intake sheet and the police report, he had not seen any policy violations. Also, an informational report does not carry the same weight as an incident report. He has had 15 - 16 other inquiries investigated. He did not decline this case, only IAD can do that, but he sent the case on to his superiors. However, he now would support an investigation to look into the possibility of harassment.
He did not know why the report was signed and said it would be impossible to speculate. The lack of signature may not be anything sinister. Olson asked why a supervisor's signature on a report was necessary; Clark said to show that they have seen it.
Capt. Jensen said that if advisors return the case, IAD will conduct the investigation.
Botsko said that if the case was sent back, Officer A, at least, should be interviewed. IAD only has the complaint; the officer should be allowed to tell his side, particularly if the case is examined for possible misconduct. Weisberg suggested making separate motions regarding the officers involved.
Simon said she was concerned about the subject's name now being in CSD files as possibly neglecting his children. The subject was not in town during this incident. She asked if his name could somehow be withdrawn. Jensen said that the PPB Records Division had applied the classification of "Child Neglect" to the report; he will discuss changing this with the Records Technician and report back to the advisory committee.
Weisberg moved to send the complaint back for further investigation with respect to allegations against Officer A; Olson seconded. The motion carried [Y-13].
Weisberg moved to send the complaint back for further investigation with respect to allegations against Officer B; Olson seconded. The motion carried [Y-Anttila, Baker, Burney, Ford, Haring, Olson, Peterson, Slezak, Ueland, Wagner; N-Simon, Weisberg, Wells].
Simon thanked Capt. Clark and Assistant Chief Williams for attending the meeting.
PIIAC Appeal #96-19: Baker summarized. The appellant was not in attendance.
The appellant had been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a car with an anti-theft "club." She had recently filed a separate complaint against one of the officers involved, claiming that the officer had purposely spit on her during a traffic stop. In this complaint, the appellant stated that Officers A and B had arrested her for something she knew nothing about, had searched her home without permission, and that they made threats to "plant drugs." Officer B allegedly looked inside her top and pants during his search, making lewd noises. Officer B found a large quantity of foreign money on her person and when she explained that her father had given it to her, he asked what bank had he robbed? The appellant had managed to obtain a pocket recorder from a friend; enroute to jail, the officers discovered they were being recorded and threw the machine outside. Later when the appellant tried to retrieve the recorder, it had disappeared. Officers also confiscated a cellular phone the appellant was trying to use enroute to jail.
Officers had denied most of the allegations. They arrested her based on a report given by the victim, an acquaintance of the appellant's. They conducted only a patdown search because her clothing was tight. Officer B denied any lewd conduct. They denied making any threats to plant drugs and never saw a tape recorder. They did confiscate a cellular phone the appellant tried to use on the way to jail, but she got it back later.
The appellant's story made no sense; she frequently contradicted herself. She said her "sister," last name, address and telephone number unknown, had given her the tape recorder to use, but when interviewed, this witness denied having any knowledge of a tape recorder. PPB had determined the complaint was unfounded.
Baker moved to affirm PPB's findings; ? seconded. The motion carried [Y-12].
PIIAC Appeal #96-20: Haring summarized. The appellants, a brother and sister, had complained about the courtesy of a Telephone Reporting Unit officer. The appellant, who had been in the midst of a divorce, had a restraining order filed against him. His wife had contacted police to complain that he had driven past her home, shouted at her, thus violating the order. He was surprised when Officer A contacted him to inquire. He explained that he had only driven by the house, as is allowed, when he witnessed her holding a garage sale which had been specifically prohibited by a judge. He was frustrated that he could not get an officer to follow up; an officer told him that he had to pursue the matter civilly.
The complainant alleged that during his follow-up conversation with Officer A, she continually interrupted and would not allow him to explain. He got his sister on the telephone and Officer A would not allow her to speak either. Officer A told them to shut up and hung up on them. They called back and were hung up on again. When asked for her badge number and name, Officer A first rattled it off too quickly, and when asked to repeat, she spoke with exaggerated slowness.
Officer A had a different account. She stated that her conversation with the man was quite pleasant, he seemed to understand her explanation. He had simply asked her to provide the same explanation to his sister, but the sister was very agitated. She would not allow Officer A to speak, so Officer A told her to "shut up" as a last resort and hung up. PPB's letter of disposition explained that Officer A was counseled about the "shut up" remark. The appellants were dissatisfied, they wanted a full apology.
The appellants addressed the committee. They repeated much of the complaint; the sister agreed that she had been angry but said she had not started out that way. The brother said that PPB's response wasn't good enough. They said nothing about the officer having hung up several times. He was mad about Officer A lying in her interview.
Botsko said that the investigator had pursued all of the allegations, but the officer had a different account. Further investigation would probably not resolve these discrepancies. The only way to really know for sure who was rude to whom would be an actual tape recording of the conversation. Capt. Jensen said that these calls are generally not tape-recorded.
Simon had a procedural question. She did not know what else advisors could do, since technically, the complaint was sustained.
Simon made a motion to uphold PPB's findings; Ueland seconded. Slezak requested that the monitoring subcommittee ensure that letters of disposition fully explained when a complaint has been sustained, Simon said she would accept that as a friendly amendment. The motion carried [Y-11; Abstain-Anttila].
The appellant said he was thought many mistakes had been made. He was angry that he received someone else's letter informing him of this meeting. Botsko explained to advisors that she had inadvertently sent two appellant's each others' letter; the appellant in this case had already received a corrected letter and an apology.
PIIAC Appeal #96-21: Wagner summarized. The advisory panel had considered a previous appeal from the appellant. The present complaint involved procedural aspects of his arrest. He claimed that Officer A had failed to secure his anti-seizure medication before the appellant was jailed, causing the appellant to suffer seizures during the time he was in jail. Officer A would not allow the appellant to call someone to take care of his dog, nor would he allow the appellant to leave a key under the doormat. Wagner said that the appellant was provided medication at the jail, and medical records do not support his claims that he had seizures. PPB had declined his complaint.
[Slezak left.]
The appellant addressed the committee, reiterating his complaint. He said that Officer A had lied about his being able to call someone from the jail that same day. He was not allowed to make a call until the following day.
Jensen addressed the committee. He said that the appellant's inability to make a phone call was due to some circumstances that advisors were aware of, but that didn't need to be elaborated upon in this forum. He said that a couple of PPB General Orders exist regarding prisoner's animals. Botsko had brought these GO's to his attention. The GO's are poorly written and he is trying to get that corrected. They do not clarify what type of animals should be placed into protective custody; officers could technically be made responsible for arranging care of fish,
hamsters, etc. In his and IAD investigators' experience, no one has ever arranged for care of a pet, unless they were in bad circumstances like a drug house.
Olson made a motion to affirm PPB's determination; Wells seconded. The motion carried [Y-11].
Announcements/New Business:
Capt. Jensen introduced Sgts. Killinger and McGeechy.
Public Input:
Dan Handelman addressed the committee. He said that he had recently gone through mediation with a police officer. He thought the process was a good one. Olson asked what he thought about the NMC staff. Handelman said they were very helpful. Ueland said that the 3rd Quarter 1996 Monitoring Report had been presented to City Council yesterday, and the Mayor asked what the advisors planned to do if they were still not happy with the progress of the Police-Citizen Mediation project. Ueland had answered that the advisors would want to look at other mediators.
He commented on PIIAC Appeal #96-16. He disagreed that Capt. Jensen should be able to decline a use of force complaint. He commented on PIIAC Appeal #96-18. He was offended that someone on the committee had used the word "crazy."
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner