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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

May 8, 1997

MAY 8, 1997
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; David Burney, Deborah Haring, Stephen Heck, Shanisse Howard, Emily Simon, Robert Ueland, Marge Wagner, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Emily Simon
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Capt. C.W. Jensen, IAD; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Diane Linn, ONA; Julien Minard, Neighborhood Mediation center; Officer Leo Painton, Portland Police Association; Emanuel Parris, Neighborhood Mediation Center; Sgt. John Smith, IAD
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. He introduced new advisors Stephen Heck, appointed by Commissioner Francesconi, and Shanisse Howard, appointed by Commissioner Kafoury.
[Anttila arrived.]
With no amendments to the April minutes, they were considered accepted.
PIIAC Appeal #97-08: Botsko summarized. IAD had closed the complaint for declination. Advisors had waived the appeal time limit on the case, however, IAD no longer had the complaint intake tape available.
The appellant was arrested for assault, and protested having been taken to the ground and handcuffed roughly. The police reports indicated that the appellant’s neighbor, with whom he had gotten into an altercation, had actually taken him to the ground. By the time police arrived, the appellant was doing yardwork. The neighbor reported that the appellant pushed a lawn tool into his chest and displayed some cuts to the officer. The report reflected an uneventful arrest. IAD contacted the neighbor who corroborated the police report -- no such force was used during the arrest.
The appellant addressed the committee. He explained that he had requested a time waiver because his attorney had advised him to delay filing, and he has a medical condition triggered by stress. He described the ongoing dispute with his neighbor. He said his neighbor assaulted him, not the other way around. Had he wished to assault his neighbor, he would have swung forcefully at him with his garden tool. He simply hit the neighbor back after the neighbor threw him to the ground and was on top of him.
His attorney advised him that officers should not have arrested him and come onto his property without a warrant. He provided advisors with a copy of his summary of events. He also distributed photographs of his injuries to advisors.
Several advisors asked questions about the incident. Ueland said that he saw no evidence that would support the appellant’s allegations that force was used beyond routine handcuffing.
Ueland made a motion to uphold IAD’s declination; ______ seconded. The motion carried [Y-10; Abstain-Ford].
Weisberg said that while he agreed with the outcome of the case, he was concerned about categorizing it as a declination. Botsko said declinations are allowed when the allegations are "fallacious or without merit." Weisberg said that would be all right if the allegations was fallacious or without merit on the face, but in this situation, IAD had conducted some preliminary investigation before doing that. Therefore a formal finding of Exonerated or Unfounded would be warranted. He thought this could be a monitoring issue.
Announcements/New Business:
1. Mediation update
Diane Linn said that the Mayor’s Budget provides for the Neighborhood Mediation Center to be spun off as a non-profit entity. She could not predict what resources would be available for police-citizen mediations, since NMC’s top priorities are critical cases. 50% of NMC’s cases are referred by other city bureaus.
Weisberg suggested having another entity handle police-citizen mediations. He suggested the Multnomah County Courts mediation program could absorb these with a cost savings. This would save the police-citizen mediations from having to compete with priority cases. Linn said that resources are limited, and the city has to be open-minded. Weisberg said he’d do some checking and present more information.
Burney asked if any other entities have offered support; Linn said one has. Heck asked about Metro as a resource, considering that conflict arises from land use issues. He also asked whether any kind of strategic plan has been developed. He added that PSU’s Division of Public Administration recently absorbed a non-profit organization. Linn said that ONA has some assistance for that and is utilizing a transition coordinator.
Ueland commended NMC for the work done on the draft evaluation report. The report was especially helpful in giving a "flavor" of what goes on in mediation. He urged that NMC submit the report to Council as soon as possible.
Ford said that we are starting to witness the declined of citizen involvement. No one realized the devastating impacts of Measure 47. Linn said she had to fight for the money she got. Ueland urged that everyone attend the budget hearings.
Wells commented that the 87% response rate on the police-citizen mediation questionnaires [given to those who participated] was excellent. He especially liked that the evaluation reported on some of those comments. Botsko said that she would be working with Minard on refining some of the language in the report.
Ueland made a motion to adopt the mediation evaluation report as submitted. Heck seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-12].
2. Council actions
Botsko updated the panel on recent PIIAC (Council) activities. They accepted advisors’ recommendations on appeal #96-22, in which an overweight woman was dragged to a police car. That case generated a lot of discussion and the vote was close -- 3-2. Now the Chief has 60 days to respond to the recommendation that the finding be changed to sustained.
Council also accepted advisors’ recommendations to support IAD’s declination regarding appeal #97-04, which involved a man arrested for having a marijuana grow operation. He was protesting a discrepancy in amounts seized.
3. Monitoring subcommittee
Ueland mentioned that the 60-day trial period ended for IAD/PIIAC review of use-of-force complaints, with emphasis on potential declinations. Jensen would want to decline. The subcommittee has not finalized criteria for what cases could be declined, but they had agreed on some things.
Capt. Jensen said that advisors’ main concern is that declinations are never entered onto an officer’s complaint history, and therefore use-of-force complaints that are declined would never count for Command Review. He suggested implementing a new category -- Declination with Findings. Therefore, a case that on the surface appears Unfounded or Exonerated could still be declined for full investigation, but it would still go onto an officer’s record and count toward Command Review. Ueland said that the monitoring subcommittee would continue to discuss these issues.
4. Miscellaneous
Capt. Jensen said that he may be demoted. Ford said he was concerned about the turnover within IAD. He wanted to write a letter urging the Chief against another IAD command change.
Capt. Jensen introduced the newest IAD investigator, Sgt. John Smith.
Wagner [Southeast Uplift] said this would be her last meeting, as she was resigning. She enjoyed her work with the committee but needed to reduce the amount of time spent on volunteer activities and concentrate on one or two.
Botsko also announced Robert Peterson’s [North Portland Neighborhood Office] resignation because of a job conflict.
Public Input:
Dan Handelman, People Overseeing Police Study Group (POPSG), distributed copies of the group’s latest newsletter. He commented on the monitoring report most recently submitted to City Council. In the section reflecting IAD’s 1996 statistics, 20% of the complainants come from the African-American population, which is disproportionate to that population at large. Commissioner Francesconi was struck by this.
Handelman likes the idea of putting declination information into an officer’s complaint history. He would like to see a copy of the mediation evaluation and is concerned about privatization of city services. He suggested that a PIIAC advisor testify at the budget hearings. Weisberg reiterated his belief that a different solution was needed for police-citizen mediation. He said that he thought it could be done for $10,000 - $15,000 a year.
Capt. Jensen said that he advocates mediators be specialists. Burney said that he has little confidence in ONA and Diane Linn. He spoke about the problems his appointing group, East Portland District Coalition, had been having.
Ford adjourned the meeting.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner