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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

December 12, 1996

Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
DECEMBER 12, 1996
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; David Burney, Deborah Haring, Emily Simon, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Randy Weisberg
Citizen Advisors Absent: Marina Anttila, Etta Baker, Todd Olson, Robert Peterson, Robert Wells
City Staff Present: Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Diane Linn, Director - Office of Neighborhood Associations
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. He introduced Diane Linn, Director of the Office of Neighborhood Associations, who was on hand to provide an update about the Police-Citizen Mediation Project. She said that in the 3 years since the pilot project began, PPB has sent 40 cases to the Neighborhood Mediation Center. Of those, ten will have gone through mediation by late 1996 or early 1997. Twenty others have been closed out for various reasons -- one party changed their mind, the complainant could not be contacted, etc. Ten other cases are in the mediation pipeline.
From 7/1/95 - 6/30/96, NMC received more than 850 cases altogether, and closed out 650 of those. Mediation involves a lot of case development. Volunteers are now being used for the Police-Citizen mediations and evaluations from completed cases have been very positive.
PPB and NMC have discussed how much case development should go into these mediations and what a reasonable deadline should be for complainants to make themselves available for mediations. Measure 47 will force efficiency but NMC does not plan to ask for more funding.
Weisberg distributed his recommended guidelines for NMC. He said he was disappointed in the the two previous NMC presentations to the advisory committee. One of his recommendations was a 60-day turnover time, which Ueland said was the same number the Monitoring Subcommittee was considering. Ueland said that advisors had not planned to determine standards, but when the last quarterly monitoring report was presented to Council, the commissioners asked what advisors expected of the NMC since case completion seemed to be a problem. Linn agreed that NMC needs clear standards regarding case completion, although flexibility will be needed in some cases. She stated that a 60-day turnover time was reasonable.
Wagner said that the NMC staff did not talk about timelines with advisors. For example, how soon are citizens and officers contacted after NMC receives the initial case file? Linn responded that a new database program should help track these statistics. Volume has proven overwhelming.
Ford asked for an update at the January citizen advisor's meeting. Linn agreed.
[Simon arrived.]
Linn suggested using Weisberg's guidelines in draft form, with final guidelines to be presented to the Mayor jointly with the advisory committee. She was concerned about a sentence in the guidelines that talked about looking elsewhere for mediation services if the guidelines were not implemented by January. Part of her challenge is the uncertainty of funding issues. Ueland said that advisors don't want to "drop the hammer" but need an answer. Other advisors said that when Linn knows more about the funding situation, she should be open about what caseload is manageable under the guidelines. Simon said that if there are problems with case management, advisors won't just say "that's that."
Linn said she had not been aware that advisors had wanted reports; Ueland said advisors didn't know either until it became apparent that there was a bottleneck somewhere in the process. Linn invited advisors to call her if any had further questions.
Weisberg moved to adopt the guidelines and present them to NMC for a response; Ueland seconded. The motion carried [Y-6; Abstain-Ford].

Work Session:
No appeals were heard. Advisors discussed various "housekeeping" issues.
1. Mission Statement:
The citizen advisors do not have a specific mission statement. About a year ago, the idea first came up but nothing further was done. Several advisors feel that a mission statement would be useful; many organizations have one to help stay focused. Simon did not believe the panel needs a mission statement because their "mission" is set out in City Code and the PIIAC by-laws. She said the advisory committee is the best it's been in a long time. Simon also said that she did not wish to create an inadvertent impression that advisors are deciding on their own what their mission is.
Ueland agreed but said he had no desire to expand on or take away from advisors' mission. A mission statement might help prevent misunderstandings such as when advisors occasionally "wander off" on their own. One example is when an advisor independently contacts Bureau personnel on matters unrelated to IAD complaints.
Wagner and Weisberg both said they saw no need for a mission statement. Haring said that a mission statement or something similar could be devised for the benefit of appellants. Botsko said materials sent to appellants provide a brief description of what PIIAC does and does not do, but some appellants still have unrealistic expectations.
Burney moved to set the matter over for further discussion; Weisberg seconded.
Ford said the motion to table could carry without further vote. Advisors were not certain so took a vote. The motion carried [Y-6, N-Simon].

2. Creation of Ground Rules:
This was an agenda item but Ueland proposed keeping this discussion with the previous one. Advisors were agreeable.

3. Additional Outreach:
Ford said that the occasional advisory meetings held in the community were useful, but wondered what else could be done to let people know what the panel is about.
Simon said that too much time is spent on appeals at the outreach meetings, particularly last month's. Observers don't have much time to provide input and advisors need to hear people's perceptions.
Advisors suggested trying to get cable access media, OPB or one of the local TV stations to do a nicely produced program on what PIIAC does. Advisors should volunteer to talk to the Neighborhood Coalitions. Burney said advisors need to be reporting back to their appointing bodies; several advisors said they routinely do that. Wagner's appointing body, Southeast Uplift, even rescheduled the PSAC meetings so Wagner could attend.
Botsko said she has addressed various community groups about PIIAC, such as the League of Women Voters, Hispanic Services Roundtable, and a social worker professional group. She is willing to meet with various groups. Ford said that Botsko as staff should not be the only person to do this; advisors need to participate and accompany Botsko. Botsko also said she is distributing quarterly reports to all Chief's Forum members, and addressed the Forum's agenda committee about the possibility of doing short quarterly presentations. She distributes PIIAC materials (minutes, agendas and quarterly reports) to PPB administrative staff, including division and precinct commanders, but would like to provide more information to other PPB personnel. A PIIAC web page linked to the Mayor's website might be one way to accomplish that because attending evening meetings can be burdensome for people. Ueland asked Botsko to research costs involved with that.
Ford agreed; he said that many PPB members do not have a clear idea about PIIAC. For example, he was recently approached by a sergeant who did not appreciate comments in a Todd Olson memo that was quoted in a newspaper article about Commander Garvey. Ford had a very nice discussion with the sergeant about PIIAC's current status, and did explain that the memo was not representative of the panel. The sergeant was also surprised to learn that no one from the PPA regularly attended citizen advisory meetings.

4. Meeting Attendance:
Ford asked advisors to renew their commitment to the panel. Attendance and tardiness has started to become a problem. Simon said that attendance problems are minor compared to what they were several years ago; Wagner was surprised to hear this as she thinks absenteeism is excessive even now. Simon recommended amending the by-laws to include a maximum number of no-shows allowed. Botsko said the Mayor supports this; currently the by-laws refer only to unexcused absences, but say nothing about chronic absences with notice. Ford asked Ueland if the Monitoring Subcommittee could develop a proposal. Ueland agreed.

5. Time Limit on Appeals:
Ford asked advisors not to spend a lot of meeting time discussing minor details in reports. Wagner said that the content of an advisors' summary will depend on the complexity of a case. Ueland suggested using the monitoring worksheet for regular appeals; he finds the worksheet helpful in summarizing the cases. Simon said that she preferred having information beyond just a worksheet; in the past, before audit reports were being prepared, the worksheet approach did not work well because advisors did not receive enough information about cases. It is not enough to just say "yes" to a question like "was the investigation thorough?" Botsko suggested that executive summaries be attached to future audit reports.
Haring requested that when advisors summarize cases, they refrain from injecting personal opinions. She also suggested that advisors who are unprepared to discuss their assigned cases inform Botsko, so Botsko could do the summary instead.
Wagner suggested taking appeals out of order to accommodate those appellants in attendance. Too many cases were scheduled on last month's agenda.

6. Protocol re: Media Contacts:
Ford said he was not pleased with the "Garvey case" newspaper article that quoted Todd Olson as a member of the citizen advisory committee. Wagner said that advisors who speak to the media should not try to represent the entire committee. She resented the fact that the article tainted the entire advisory committee; the reader had no way to know that advisors had not discussed or endorsed Olson's memo.
Ueland suggested the committee designate a spokesperson. Burney said that advisors should refrain from commenting altogether. Simon had mixed feelings about the issue. She said that several years ago, she made "unauthorized" comments to the media regarding the Laurelhurst case. In hindsight, she does not know whether that was the right thing to do, but when people are frustrated they will do what they think is right. She was uncomfortable with the idea of a designated spokesperson because PIIAC exists to provide information to the public; the panel should not shut the media out. She recommended that advisors refrain from commenting outside of the public forum in which the panel operates.
Ueland said that establishing guidelines is fruitless if someone is bent on being sneaky. Ford said he was not sure if staff should always act as spokesperson, but requested that advisors be careful what they say to the media, bearing in mind that they are viewed as representatives of the entire group. He asked Brockman for her view on things advisors had discussed.
Brockman said that she is in favor of a Mission Statement. With regard to media contacts, the city does not establish a gag rule in the event someone thinks there are problems with a group. That person should be free to discuss what may be in the public's best interest to know. She asked that advisors bear in mind that they can be held legally liable for comments made outside of the public group process.
She referred to another question on the agenda, whether appellants should receive copies of the same draft audit reports that advisors receive. She said that the PIIAC process is gratuitous -- it does not proceed to the court level -- so it enjoys a greater degree of flexibility. This is not a legal question, it is one of fairness. Ford tabled the topic for discussion at a later date.
He thanked advisors for the open discussion.
Announcements/New Business:
Wagner announced that she had graduated from the Police Bureau's Citizens Academy. She said it was a great learning experience and suggested that everyone do it.
Simon said she liked the way Ford was chairing the meetings and asked him to consider continuing. Botsko said elections for a new chair will be held in January.
Public Input:
Handelman addressed the panel. He encouraged the review of changes to PIIAC. He was also wondering about mediation cases in which one party ultimately backs out. He would be interested in knowing how often each side backed out.
He mentioned advisors' use of the word "citizen" in that a complainant might not be a citizen.
He said he addressed City Council following the most recent quarterly monitoring report presentation. He told City Council about the Chief's Forum's failure to schedule PIIAC monitoring reports on the agenda.
He said that his group's [People Overseeing Police Study Group] publication, "Police Report," will be coming out soon.
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,

Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner