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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

February 13, 1997

Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
FEBRUARY 13, 1997
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila, David Burney, Robert Peterson, Emily Simon, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Etta Baker, Deborah Haring
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Capt. C.W. Jensen, IAD; Officer Leo Painton, Portland Police Association
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. He said that the meeting location is inconvenient and advisors may want to consider an alternate site.
Ueland moved to proceed with the agenda, ?? seconded. The motion carried [Y-9].
Simon requested a couple addendums to the January minutes. Advisors agreed. Simon moved to accept the January minutes; Weisberg seconded. The motion carried [Y-9].
Appeal #97-01: Ford requested Simon chair, as he was acquainted with the appellant. He said he would not participate in deliberations or voting.
Ueland summarized. IAD declined this complaint. The appellant was stopped for a traffic violation. The police report explained that he appeared agitated and his movements were quick. His driver's license was in a black bag in the rear of the trunk. Because of his mannerisms, Officer A took him into custody long enough to identify him, confiscate one of two driver's licenses, and issue a traffic citation. The appellant did not understand why he was viewed as a threat and believed the officers' reactions were not based in reality. Although he was not pleased about the stop, he did everything he was told.
Officer A would not allow him to get out of the car to retrieve his license, but when he tried to hand his car keys to the officer, Officer A refused them. Eventually Officer A had the appellant retrieve the bag. The appellant obeyed Officer A's instructions not to open the bag, and handed the bag over so Officer A could retrieve the keys himself. At that point, Officer A took him into custody saying "You're under arrest for your attitude." Part of the complaint also involved Officer A's communication with a friend of the appellant's who came by to ask what was going on. The appellant had also stated that officers searched his vehicle prior to obtaining consent. Part of the officers' concern about the appellant was that he was dressed in camouflage pants and had a hunting manual sitting on the seat.
The appellant addressed the committee. He reiterated portions of the complaint, and emphasized that what he wanted was to have been treated respectfully during the encounter. Advisors asked for additional clarification on some points. Officers "searched" his car by peering into the window from outside. Botsko stated that the term "search" applies more to situations where officers go into areas not in plain view. Weisberg said that this is a case of differing perceptions; a witness would be helpful to sort these out. He established that the appellant's friend did not appear on the scene until after the appellant was handcuffed in the back of the police car.
Capt. Jensen addressed the committee. He supported declination in this instance and said that officers had concerns that led to their taking the appellant into temporary custody. He said that in this day and age, camouflage pants may convey a different impression than twenty years ago -- that is an unfortunate reality.
Simon's concern was that as a declination, this incident would not be recorded on the officer's complaint history and could not count toward possible Command Review. Burney and Simon voiced concerns about information provided to advisors about the officer's complaint history.
Ueland asked if the appellant would reconsider mediation? Simon did not think the advisors had the authority to make that recommendation.
Burney moved to return the case to IAD for investigation; Anttila seconded. The motion carried [Y-Anttila, Burney, Peterson, Simon, Wells; N-Ueland, Wagner; Abstain-Ford, Weisberg].
Appeal #97-02: Simon summarized. The appellant's wife was apparently planning to serve him with divorce papers that day. A concerned friend asked police to check on her, knowing her plans, and concerned when he or she was unable to reach the wife by telephone. The appellant met officers outside and did not want them on his property. Ultimately they entered his home against his wishes and insisted on speaking to the wife privately until they ascertained that she was all right.
The appellant's complaint focused on several main issues. He said that officers refused to identify themselves at the beginning and he was uncertain as to their identity. As they were leaving, they provided a business card to the wife but not to him. The appellant was upset about the officers not having a search warrant, and he also protested the tone of Capt. Jensen's declination letter.
Capt. Jensen ultimately declined the complaint, although preliminary investigation was very thorough. Simon recommended supporting the declination, but said that as a service issue only, PPB might want to consider having a discussion with the officers about giving cards to both husband and wife. In an adversarial situation, officers should avoid giving the impression of taking sides.
Capt. Jensen addressed the panel. He said that the community caretaking law is very specific. In situations where domestic abuse may be occurring, women often deny that abuse is occurring. It is embarrassing, and also risky to admit this in the presence of a spouse. He would have requested action be taken against officers if they had not done as they had. They would have been remiss if they had not questioned the spouse privately.
Ford and Anttila commented that elements of the case and analysis seemed insensitive to them. Weisberg said that he saw nothing in Capt. Jensen's letter that implied any sort of ethnic bias. Burney said that the quarterly monitoring report is the proper vehicle to comment on sensitivity issues -- not a specific case.
Simon agreed that officers would have been wrong if they had handled this case in any other manner. She moved to support IAD's declination; Ueland seconded. The motion carried [Y-9; N-Anttila].
Appeal #97-03: The appellant was not present. Wells summarized. The appellant was on his motorcycle on northbound I-5. Traffic was backed up, so the appellant drove on the shoulder towards an exit. For whatever reason, he did not stop for the officer. He claims he was unaware of the officer, but the officer report indicates he had his lights and siren on. The appellant failed to stop and even appeared to be taking evasive action, so the officer upgraded the call to a pursuit and conducted the stop in accordance with high-risk stop procedures. After preliminary review, IAD declined this complaint.
Wells said he supported this decision. No matter what was taking place in the appellant's mind, the officer's perceptions must prevail in how he handles the situation. He wished the appellant had agreed to mediate.
Burney was concerned about the letter of declination. Capt. Jensen said the reason the case was declined was that the appellant had pled guilty to Reckless Driving. Capt. Jensen explained that the plea in fact supported the officer's actions.
Wells moved to support IAD's declination; Wagner seconded. The motion carried [Y-10].
Monitoring Subcommittee: Ueland summarized the 4th Quarter Monitoring report draft. The Chief's response to a previous quarterly report was attached. The only unresolved issue was the advisor's recommendations that officers be informed of complaint allegations in a uniform manner. The Chief responded that this is the subject of a formal grievance, and IAD is not the proper body to decide this policy.
Timeliness of investigations continues to be a problem. The other major concern in the report is a new issue of IAD declining use of force complaints. Simon felt this was the most important issue in the report. Declinations do not count towards possible Command Review. Weisberg said there might be some complaints that do not require investigation.
Capt. Jensen said he has discussed this issue with the monitoring subcommittee. He will be working with Botsko and the subcommittee to review all use of force complaints that come in during the next 60 days. After that time, the subcommittee will develop recommendations for possible policy and criteria to be used in assessing these complaints.
Wells said he would like to see an investigative protocol established that whenever a complainant alleges injuries, IAD obtain a copy of the booking photo. Capt. Jensen said that his investigators will be obtaining this in every case where the complainant was arrested.
Botsko said that the report also reflects one sustained case monitored. An advisor looked at the case and had some concerns that the evidence did not support the sustained finding. He asked Botsko to look at it also; when she pulled the file, Chief Moose had independently changed the finding to Insufficient Evidence following a mitigation hearing. Botsko said that had this been appealed to PIIAC, she would have recommended challenging the sustained finding.
Burney asked about the IAD year-end statistics. He said they were difficult to interpret. Simon also requested clarification about the discrepancy between number of mediations closed and number of mediations completed. Anttila recommended adding Wagner's name to the report.
Ueland moved to adopt the report as amended; Wagner seconded. The motion carried [Y-10].
Announcements/New Business: Ford reminded the panel that in a previous meeting, they had supported Todd Olson's recommendation to form a subcommittee to review how well the panel was fulfilling the Mayor's 1994 Initiatives. Since Olson's resignation, the subcommittee went no further. Ford asked for volunteers.
Weisberg said that this was Todd's idea but he saw no real purpose in it. Several advisors indicated that they had no additional time to work on this. Ueland moved to table the recommendation; Anttila seconded. The motion carried [Y-10].
Ford offered to help secure a future meeting location in North Portland.
Public Input: Dan Handelman of People Overseeing Police Study Group (POPSG) addressed the committee. He said that he was glad to see the issue of use-of-force declinations addressed in the quarterly report. He commented on the second appeal and asked if the appellant was aware of his option to appeal to the full PIIAC. Botsko said that had been discussed in a private telephone conversation, and that she always sends letters to appellants, even when they have attended the advisory meetings.
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner