March 13, 1997
Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
March 13, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
March 13, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Deborah Haring, Robert Peterson, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Marina Anttila, David Burney, Emily Simon
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Sgt. Dick Gerety, IAD; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD;
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
[Weisberg not yet in attendance.]
Ford called the meeting to order. He said that tardiness is a problem and requested that advisors make every effort to be on time.
Ueland made a motion to accept the February minutes; Wagner seconded. The motion carried [Y-7].
PIIAC Appeal #97-05: Botsko summarized. IAD had initially declined the complaint and had offered to withdraw the case for further investigation. She appellant had several complaints. The main one was that in August, she had been assaulted by a fellow tenant in her apartment complex. Officer "X," whose identity had not yet been determined, failed to take a report as he could see no evidence of injuries. Another officer later took a report and referred to the appellant as a "chronic caller." She objected to this label, but Botsko said she had seen nothing in the police report, the appellant's PPDS or the IAD file supporting this characterization.
The appellant also told IAD about an incident with a Portland police officer that occurred 20 - 30 years ago; Botsko said she supported IAD's declination of that complaint in that it happened too long ago. The appellant also told IAD about suspected drug activity in her apartment complex; she felt PPB was not responsive in assisting with this. She was told to report any suspicious activity; she is familiar with the smell of chemicals associated with methamphetamine manufacture, and now she is labeled a "chronic caller" for her efforts. The appellant addressed the committee. She provided additional detail about the fellow tenant who assaulted her and exposed himself to her, and said this person continues to threaten her. She repeated the other aspects of her complaint. The same officer who eventually took the assault report has made disparaging comments about her to the apartment manager. Ford explained that the committee would be taking no formal action this evening, as IAD had voluntarily withdrawn the case for further review. She could expect to have a follow-up contact with an IAD investigator. He encouraged her to provide the additional information to them.
PIIAC Appeal #97-04: Weisberg summarized. IAD had declined the complaint. The appellant was presently incarcerated after having been charged with possession, manufacture and distribution of marijuana. He claimed that Officer A misrepresented evidence by supplying a vastly inflated amount of processed, ready-for-sale marijuana, but an independent forensic examiner's report reflected a significant weight discrepancy. The appellant believed the inflated number caused a preliminary plea agreement to be rejected. Weisberg said that the various amounts reflected in different reports was a bit confusing and this may be something PPB would wish to address.
Botsko said that while advisors normally do not support IAD as a forum for arrested people to contest evidence or other information, a specific discrepancy had been identified. While the independent examiner's report was also lacking, her inclination had been for IAD to attempt to resolve the discrepancy. Since the draft audit report was written, A/C Lynnae Berg supplied IAD and the advisors with a memo explaining that Officer A had inadvertently recorded the weight in pounds rather than ounces. The discrepancy was, in fact, revealed to the court before sentencing. Botsko said that apparently PPB GO's do not require a supplemental report be written correcting the error, as the police report was never formally entered into evidence. However she was satisfied that this memo sufficiently resolved the discrepancy. Wells was concerned that Officer A's Special Report had not been signed by a supervisor.
Sgt. Gerety, IAD, told the panel that a person who submits a plea to the court is subjected to a series of questions, such as are they filing the plea of their own free will? Do they realize they relinquish their right to cross-examine when they do so? The appellant could have withdrawn his plea if he thought the weight discrepancy was a serious issue.
Ueland made a motion to support IAD's declination; Wagner seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-8].
Updates: Botsko provided an update on PIIAC Appeal #94-05. The sole complaint was that following an arrest and vehicle tow, the appellant's purse was missing. At the time of the
original appeal, A/Capt. Ron Webber withdrew the case for further review because an inventory report had not been taken in accordance with General Orders. The review was delayed when the suspect officer went on extended medical leave. When it was finally adjudicated, PPB sustained the complaint against a different officer and that officer's supervisor. Botsko said that despite Officer A's having been out for awhile, PPB let this case languish too long.
Botsko had recently attended the Review Level Committee hearing on PIIAC Appeal #96-19. The complaint was about an exclusion from Tri-Met. Jensen had determined that the prevailing policy did not conform to General Orders, as bus passes are items of value; subsequently, Capt. Ratcliff of Tri-Met wrote up a policy. Because Tri-Met officers had been following an unwritten policy of attaching the passes to the exclusion notice that was to be forwarded to the hearings officer, PPB did not sustain against the officers in this complaint. Advisors had voted to request Review Level determine whether the officers should, in fact, have known to issue a property receipt. The Review Level had agreed with the original finding and were satisfied that supervisory staff had taken measures to correct the deficient policy.
Weisberg said that he did not want to set a precedent of pitting unwritten policy against General Orders, yet this had been a question in his mind. Advisors agreed to take no further action on this complaint.
Ford said he attended last week's City Council session at which the 4th Quarter Monitoring Report was presented. It was well-received. The commissioners also heard the appeal from the appellant who appeared before advisors last month [Appeal #97-02], and accepted advisors' recommendations to reject the appeal.
Ford said that he, Botsko and Capt. Jensen had done a panel presentation to a group of Slovakian delegates interested in citizen involvement in government process. This was a very interesting meeting and he was proud to tell them that PIIAC is working.
2. Request for Time Limit Waiver on Appeal:
Botsko presented a Request for PIIAC Review to the panel. IAD sent the letter of disposition in the summer of 1996, but the appellant only recently filed a request for review. Botsko said that by-laws require appeals be filed within 30 days, barring compelling circumstances. The appellant claimed that the reason for the delay was that his attorney advised him to avoid aggravating his [the appellant's] epileptic condition with the stress of additional legal involvements. Ueland requested Botsko ask the appellant for letters attesting to this from the attorney or his physician. Peterson suggested she ask him to supply both, and advisors agreed with this course of action.
3. Absentee Policy Reviewed:
Ueland distributed a draft absenteeism policy which calls for an advisor to be replaced after missing two consecutive meetings or three in 12 months, with or without notice. Ueland said that from a practical and ethical perspective, advisors need to consistently attend meetings.
Botsko said that although Anttila could not attend this evening's meeting, she had left a voice mail that she thought the policy was too strict and made no allowance for people who had special circumstances arise. She also did not believe the policy should apply to advisors already appointed.
Ueland said that if mitigating circumstances existed, then the appointing authority could simply reappoint the advisor. Haring questioned whether some distinction should be made between advisors who do or do not provide advance notification; Ueland said the policy would apply to either. Haring said that any policy enacted should apply to all advisors.
Weisberg questioned the efficiency of the appointing authorities having to reappoint someone under mitigating circumstances. He thought that decision might be better left to the advisory panel. Ford suggested waiting until next month to make a final decision on Ueland's recommendation.
Dan Handelman (POPSG) addressed the panel. He said that regarding the appeal about the marijuana arrest, a formal review of the charges could make the appellant feel that his concerns were acknowledged.
Regarding the Tri-Met case, the appellant had been told to file a claim with Risk Management in order to get his money back. Handelman wondered about others who had their passes confiscated under the old policy? Is PIIAC the proper agency to publicize how they too might get their money back? Botsko said that the appellant was told about the claim process, not that he would get his money back.
Handelman said that POPSG's report on improving PIIAC several years ago had included a recommendation that advisors receive a stipend. He recognized the limitations in the face of Ballot Measure 47, but wondered if this would alleviate absenteeism.
He encouraged advisors to proceed with Todd Olson's idea of doing a performance review for PIIAC. This would be good for morale. Weisberg said that it's not that advisors aren't in favor of the idea, but no one has that kind of time. He said it would be nice if an independent person did such a review.
Handelman said that in his remarks to City Council last week following the Monitoring Report, he had again requested the inclusion of appeal numbers in the monitoring report. He believed this would clarify that part of the report for the general public.
Ford asked whether preliminary budget discussions indicated any adverse effect on PIIAC? Botsko said not that she was aware of.
Wells thanked the IAD staff for their cooperative attitude whenever he had to review cases in the office.
Botsko said that the monitoring subcommittee was preparing to audit the Command Review statistics. Command Review is a process by which supervisors review the performance of officers who had received a number of complaints. The audit would follow up the City Auditor's conclusions in 1993 that the process did not work as intended. It would review whether qualifying officers are consistently identified and scheduled for Command Review, and of those officers who went, how many received additional complaints. The statistics would be examined for any meaningful patterns.
Ford adjourned the meeting.