SEPTEMBER 11, 1997
CITIZEN ADVISORS MEETING MINUTES
Held at Self-Enhancement Inc., 3920 N Kerby, Portland
Citizen Advisors Present: Emily Simon, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Charles Ford, Less Frank, Deborah Haring, Stephen Heck, Shanisse Howard, Robert Ueland, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: David Burney, Jim Taylor
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Elisa Dozono, Mayor's Office; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Tom Mack, Portland Police Association; Julien Minard, Neighborhood Mediation Center; Leo Painton, Portland Police Association
Media Present: David Anderson, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video; Paul Richmond, PDXS
Simon called the meeting to order. Advisors and PIIAC Staff introduced themselves.
Advisors accepted the June, July and August meeting minutes.
PIIAC Appeal #97-15: Wells summarized. The appellant, coming upon two police cars blocking traffic lanes without having overhead lights on, decided to drive around one car and on to his destination. Officer A decided to cite him for driving in the bus lane, and followed him into a parking structure. Officers B and C, coach and trainee, followed.
The appellant claims that Officer A would not fully identify himself and when asked for his first name, told the appellant he could call him "Sir." The appellant objected to this. After the incident, the appellant spoke with Officer A's sergeant who said the decision to drive around the officer seemed reasonable.
Wells said that the interview tapes were missing, possibly part of a batch of tapes that were inadvertently recycled during an office move. He said the investigation would have been enhanced by more detailed questioning on some points. Although the appellant wrote a detailed complaint letter, he was evidently not interviewed. Also, IAD should have verified statements attributed to Officer A's sergeant. However, Wells believed sufficient information had been gathered in the investigation. PPB sustained the complaint insofar as Procedure went, having determined that Officer A improperly blocked the traffic lane.
Wells also informed the appellant, who was present, that this officer has a sufficient number of previous complaints to qualify him for Command Review, which was a supervisory review. Regardless of the findings on individual complaints, the officer's overall performance would be evaluated.
Frank asked whether passing in a bus lane was a traffic violation, and if so, why the appellant was not cited for that offense. Botsko clarified, saying that he was in fact cited for "Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device," as well as two other charges.
Simon asked what was meant in Officer B's testimony that "both sides were out of control." Botsko said that the audit report reflected the written summary, including Officer B's statements that the officer did not have good control of the situation, allowing the appellant to move back and forth, and that the appellant was agitated and belligerent. Botsko did not know whether these statements had been further developed in the actual interview.
The appellant addressed the panel and said that his primary objection was how he was falsely characterized in the police report. He was dismayed to learn that the Police Bureau has no mechanism by which to correct such a report. He believed other officers named in police reports should review them for accuracy. He said this was the first time he heard other officers had testified about his complaint. He also clarified that his conversation with Officer A's supervisor occurred immediately after the incident. The appellant said he did not think Officer A should have pushed him when he was already in compliance.
Simon asked about the disposition of the citation. The appellant said it was upheld in court. She asked the appellant if he indeed had tinted windows, as indicated in Officer A's special report. The appellant confirmed that he did. However, he was not cited for that. Weisberg asked the appellant whether he indeed had no proof of insurance, as indicated on the traffic citation. The appellant said he had been asked for his registration, but not the proof of insurance. The appellant was also asked about an allusion, in his letter of complaint, to possible witnesses. He said that while people had been driving past, he could not identify possible witnesses.
Weisberg asked if the appellant had been offered mediation, as it would have been a good way to resolve some of the concerns. The appellant said he never was.
Botsko told the appellant that the Bureau really has no mechanism for changing police reports, unless a supervisor finds fault with it. However, the appellant could write a rebuttal that could be attached to the report.
Botsko also said that she did not believe other allegations on this complaint were sustainable. The Bureau applied a finding of "Insufficient Evidence" to the communication issue, which was appropriate given different perceptions of how things were said. In her mind this complaint was avoidable, though, she thought that both officer and appellant contributed to the difficulties and that the Bureau should have some way of reviewing even a single complaint with an officer, rather than just waiting for enough complaints to accumulate to trigger Command Review.
Botsko also clarified advisors' questions about the General Orders pertaining to identification. This has been an ongoing source of citizen complaints and advisors have commented on it in previous monitoring reports. The prevailing General Order on Identification says that officers, upon request, must provide their name and BPSST number in writing. Many officers will consider their name on a report or citation to suffice. Also, if citizens ask for an officer's first name, nothing in the Identification General Order says that the officer has to give that.
Recently another General Order was written that says when asked for a badge number, officers must provide BPSST numbers. Advisors, in their most recent monitoring report, recommended that the Identification General Order be revised to reflect the new requirement.
Capt. Bennington addressed the committee. He said that a Command Review will occur for this officer. Even though one allegation only was sustained, the whole file will be reviewed for possible issues. The appellant's objections to the report was not part of his original complaint. He offered to assist the appellant in getting an amendment attached to the report.
Simon said that she did not put a lot of stock in Officer A's special report, a self-serving document written to support his own conduct in a simple traffic matter. What does concern her is the lack of interview tapes and resulting lack of clarity on certain details.
Simon also said that given the trivial reason for the traffic stop, she suspected he was really stopped for "driving while black." Ford thinks PPB is too casual in how it handles complaints with racial overtones, and that the Bureau needs to send a sterner message.
Weisberg said that while this case smells, he is not sure it is enough to take action, especially with no independent witnesses. He thought this would have been a good case for mediation.
Wells made a motion to affirm the IAD investigation and findings; Weisberg seconded. The motion failed [Y- Ueland, Wells, Weisberg; N-Anttila, Ford, Frank, Haring, Heck, Howard, Simon].
Simon said she believed the case should be re-investigated because of the absence of tapes. Ford agreed this was a problem.
Ford made a motion to return the case to IAD for re-investigation; Anttila seconded.
Botsko suggested that IAD should consider appellant's objections about the police report as part of the entire complaint. Ford accepted that as a friendly amendment to his motion.
Capt. Bennington said that he was not sure if labor laws allowed for re-investigation. Because one of the allegations was sustained, he thought re-investigation might constitute double jeopardy. Simon suggested he check with the police legal advisor, that it's not the advisors' job to make this determination.
The motion carried [Y-Anttila, Ford, Frank, Haring, Heck, Howard, Simon; N-Ueland, Wells, Weisberg].
Simon said she wished to take other agenda items out of order and asked what other appellants were present. The appellant on PIIAC #97-16 was not present. Botsko said that the appellant on PIIAC #97-17 had requested it be postponed.
Anttila made a motion to postpone PIIAC #97-17; Ford seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
Discussion Item: Ueland reported on a case that has been withheld from standard PIIAC monitoring by the city attorney's office. He explained that typically, IAD notifies PIIAC staff of closed IAD investigations available for monitoring. Several months ago, the subcommittee became aware of a case in which investigation had been completed.
PIIAC staff made inquiries and discovered the case file was being retained in the City Attorney's office. Ueland said that the matter was handled in a low-key manner. PIIAC staff made several requests that the file be made available for review. Within the past several weeks, Ford was asked to make another request.
Last week, a newspaper article quoted Jeff Rogers as saying that he had not been asked for the file. Ueland immediately wrote a letter of request which he hand-delivered to Rogers' office, but advisors are not accustomed to having to make such formal requests in the course of their routine monitoring function.
Heck asked Ueland if he had received a response to the letter; Ueland said no. Botsko said Rogers was out of town this week.
Weisberg suggested that if the files are not forthcoming by the advisors' October meeting, then advisors go to City Council about the issue. Ueland suggested using the Third Quarter monitoring report as the vehicle for that, as it will be due at the same time. Advisors agreed on this.
PIIAC Appeal #97-16: Botsko summarized. A young woman was stopped for a traffic violation. She complained on several counts: she believed the stop was motivated by her race. She said the officer was discourteous and mischaracterized statements she made about the correct address on her driver's license. She thought he asked questions beyond his professional scope. She also disputed the accuracy of the citation.
Botsko said that this case was investigated at the precinct and was done quite thoroughly. The supervising lieutenant had prepared a memo of instruction to the investigator that was quite thorough and well-conceived. All allegations were thoroughly examined. Officer A had legitimate reasons for the stop and testified that his questions were to learn the appellant's true address, which she admitted was different than what was reflected on her license. He denied being discourteous, but the finding on this allegation was appropriately "Insufficient Evidence."
Weisberg noted that the appellant turned down an offer of mediation because she was afraid she could not take time off work. He said she should have been informed that mediation can be conducted at a mutually agreeable time.
Weisberg moved to affirm PPB's findings; Ueland seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
Botsko announced that the Neighborhood Mediation Center had completed the final report of evaluation for the Police-Citizen Mediation Program. She had copies available for distribution. Weisberg asked about the status of the program. Ueland suggested Diane Linn be invited to address the advisory committee at their next meeting. Botsko agreed to try to arrange this.
She also said that the PIIAC Advisory Committee still lacks a permanent representative for Chief's Forum. Meetings are held alternate Monday mornings from 9 - 11 a.m.
Dan Handelman (Portland Copwatch) addressed the committee. He said he was glad advisors voiced concerns about disparate treatment issues. He was uncertain why advisors made distinctions on this point between the two appeals. Advisors seemed more concerned about it in the first appeal. Howard said that with the second case, Officer A had used radar to identify a speeding violator. There was a distinct violation.
His understanding of mediation is that PIIAC Appeal #97-15 would not have been eligible, as it includes allegations of Disparate Treatment, Use of Force, and a subject officer who had accumulated multiple complaints. Weisberg said that his thought about mediation in that case was to answer the appellant's main concerns about how the report was written.
Handelman also referenced a recent Oregonian editorial regarding the release of an investigative file for monitoring purposes. He thought the editorial was very supportive and hoped that the city would examine strengthening PIIAC if the reports are not forthcoming.
Handelman said that in nearly every complaint received on the Copwatch telephone line, officer identification is an issue.
Paul Richmond addressed the committee. He distributed copies of the September 12th edition of PDXS which contains an article that may be of interest to advisors. He suggested one thing to for someone to look at would be the correlation between new hires and number of complaints.
The meeting adjourned.
Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Examiner