June 12, 1997
Police Internal Investigations
Auditing Committee (PIIAC)
City of Portland
JUNE 12, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING MINUTES
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; David Burney, Less Frank, Deborah Haring, Stephen Heck, Shanisse Howard, Emily Simon, Jim Taylor, Robert Ueland, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: None
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Capt. Greg Clark, Detectives' Division; Capt. C.W. Jensen, IAD; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Officer Leo Painton, Portland Police Association; Assistant Chief Dave Williams
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
Ford called the meeting to order. With no amendments, the May meeting minutes were adopted.
Ford introduced new advisors Jim Taylor, appointed by Mayor Katz, and Less Frank, appointed by Southeast Uplift.
PIIAC Appeal #96-18: Weisberg summarized. Advisors originally heard this appeal in November. Officer A and the appellant had several encounters because of the appellant's boys making noise, setting off firecrackers, etc. The appellant filed a complaint following an incident when he was out-of-town and his former wife, the boys' mother, was babysitting. The boys made
too much noise in the middle of the night and Officer A summoned a uniformed officer. That officer admonished the boys and mother, and evidently no further problems developed that evening. However, Officer A went into work the next day and wrote an informational report, recommending the Children's Services Division get involved.
PPB did not investigate but decided that on the face, the complaint had no merit and should be unfounded. At the first hearing, Weisberg thought the officer's actions violated PPB General Orders because of his personal involvement in the matter. Advisors had voted to send the case back for formal investigation, which was done. The finding rendered was again "unfounded." The finding of "Insufficient Evidence" regarding previous incidences was supportable, but with respect to the information report, Weisberg's opinion had not changed.
Capt. Clark addressed the panel to explain his finding. He said that officers are constantly told to document things and are criticized when they do not. It is a frequent occurrence for officers to make such referrals, and in fact, Officer B (the uniformed officer who responded to the call) told IAD that had he been summoned a second time for the same violation, he would have made a similar referral. Officer A's report also reflected a long-term knowledge of problems with the appellant's boys.
Advisors discussed the case and asked several questions of Capt. Clark. One PPB General Order states that officers will not make arrests or issue citations in personal quarrels; some advisors felt that the spirit of the G.O. was violated when the officer wrote the report. Bob Ueland said that the G.O. did not specify officers could not write reports in personal quarrels and he was reluctant to apply it based on the "spirit" or intent. Weisberg commented that a G.O. says officers will not use their position to intimidate or coerce others. Officer A's previous threats to his neighbor (the appellant) that he would turn the boys in to CSD was an aggravating factor. Advisors also commented that Officer A, in his IAD interview, had appeared unfamiliar with the actual statutes governing child neglect and failure-to-supervise. The boys were too old to be subject to the statutes.
Weisberg moved to send the case to the full PIIAC, advising that the evidence did not support the finding, and that PIIAC should inform the Chief in writing that the finding should in fact be sustained. Anttila seconded.
Advisors discussed the motion further.
Simon said that she believed Officer A's actions were punitive and he clearly overstepped his bounds. The impact of his report on the appellant should be weighed in assessing the complaint. She did not believe further action should be taken with respect to Officer B's conversation with the appellant's ex-wife. She also emphasized, as a monitoring issue, the impropriety of how Capt. Jensen's original case assignment (for investigation) was overruled by Capt. Clark and Assistant Chief Williams.
Heck said he reluctantly supported the motion. The issue for him was the appearance of impropriety. Officers must be aware of the impacts of their actions.
Botsko said that while she agreed with Capt. Clark that the need for documentation is constantly reinforced -- however, with respect to official police actions. What officers do off-duty, as private citizens, does not fall under the same scrutiny. Had Officer A simply written an explanatory report of why he called police, that would not be so problematical, but making the referral to CSD changed the tenor and impact of the situation. She also disagreed that Officer A was documentating a chronic lack of supervision. His report concentrated only on the noise issue and he provided no supporting detail of past incidences.
Taylor said officers' off-duty conduct is important. He believed the General Order pertaining to misuse of authority was relevant. The officer was right to call police, he retained his rights to do so as a citizen. But it should not have gone any further.
Ford was concerned about sending the matter to Council. He expected Officer A had since "gotten the message" and he thought advisors should be satisfied with that.
The motion was put to a vote and carried. [Y-9 (Anttila, Burney, Haring, Heck, Howard, Simon, Weisberg, Wells); N-3 (Ford, Frank, Ueland)].
PIIAC Appeal #97-06: Botsko summarized. The appellant complained about an officer's testimony pertaining to a traffic citation in 1994. IAD declined to investigate based on the length of time that had passed, but also because the judicial system is the proper forum for a citizen to try to impeach an officer's testimony.
The appellant addressed the panel. He said he was not trying to adjudicate the traffic ticket, only "set the record straight" because the officer testified erroneously. She was also rude to him. He did not file a complaint until recently because his job takes him out of the country a lot, but also he had not been aware of the complaint investigation process.
Capt. Jensen said that IAD cannot possibly investigate discourtesy allegations after so much time has passed.
Simon asked if there had been a trial. Capt. Jensen said yes. Simon told the appellant that advisors historically do not accept appeals asking that IAD investigate what an officer has testified to.
Simon moved to support IAD's declination; Heck seconded. The motion carried unanimously.
PIIAC #97-10: Haring summarized. The appellant, a mall security guard, warned a customer about her habit of speeding through the parking lot. She then complained to 911 that she was being harassed. Officer A spoke to the appellant and other mall merchants, but took no further action. The appellant's complaint was that the officer conducted his inquiry in such a manner as to discredit the appellant. After some inquiry, IAD declined the complaint.
Haring said she had questions about why Officer A brought up an unrelated incident from 1989 in which the appellant had been involved. She also wondered why Officer A did not conduct his inquiry with the appellant's supervisor. The appellant confirmed that he had performance appraisals; he said he had been in his position for 10 years.
Simon questioned the propriety of declining a complaint after some inquiry had been done. She asked Capt. Jensen what other investigation might be done. Capt. Jensen said he had not formally interviewed the officer. On the face of the complaint, he thought Officer A had just been doing his job. Weisberg said that advisors discussed declinations before. The definition for "declination" is that the complaint is fallacious, fictitious. If IAD half-investigates, then they need to have a finding made.
[Weisberg left the meeting.]
The appellant addressed the committee and reiterated certain aspects of his complaint. He thought Officer A's investigation was frivolous.
Botsko said that the preliminary IAD interviews should not have been done in a casual, undocumented manner. They should have been treated as any other interview. Also, the inquiry that had been done still left some loose ends pertaining to officer courtesy issues. Capt. Jensen said he was more comfortable having his investigator "make a couple calls" in the interest of timeliness.
Haring moved to have IAD conduct further review. Wells seconded. The motion failed [Y-Anttila, Haring, Wells; N- Burney, Ford, Frank, Heck, Howard, Simon, Taylor, Ueland].
Ueland moved to support IAD's declination. Taylor seconded. The motion carried. [Y-Burney, Ford, Frank, Heck, Howard, Simon, Taylor, Ueland, Wells; N-Anttila, Haring; Abstain-Simon].
Botsko said that due to office reorganization and budget cuts, she would have additional responsibilities in the Mayor's office that would reduce the amount of time she could devote to PIIAC. Advisors were concerned about this and said having staff assistance is important to PIIAC. Botsko said she could use some additional advisors to help with monitoring, but she did not intend to let the organization suffer.
Ford thanked Capt. Jensen for his work in IAD.
Botsko annnounced that a representative was needed for the Chief's Forum.
Dan Handelman said he heard Capt. Jensen and Emily Simon on KBOO Radio. He would discuss the show at another time.
He appreciated advisors' returning PIIAC Appeal #96-18 and believed the officer abused his power. On Appeal #97-09, the advisor's summary was inadequate. He was also confused about Appeal #97-10.
The meeting adjourned.