Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

October 9, 1997

OCTOBER 9, 1997
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; David Burney, Les Frank, Stephen Heck, Emily Simon; Jim Taylor, Robert Ueland, Randy Weisberg, Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Deborah Haring; Shanisse Howard
City Staff Present: Elise Anfield, Mayor's Office; Sgt. George Babnick, IAD; Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Elisa Dozono, Mayor's Office; Capt. Mike Garvey, Identification Division; Anna Kanwit, City Attorney's Office; Mayor Vera Katz; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Diane Linn, Office of Neighborhood Associations; Larry Siewert, Mayor's Office
Media Present: David Anderson, The Oregonian; Loren Christensen, Portland Police Association; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video; Janelle Hartman, Eugene Register Guard; Joe Kidd, Eugene Register Guard; Andy Rogers, Eugene Register Guard; Chris Sullivan, KXL Radio; Terry Travis, KEX Radio
[Anttila and Simon had not yet arrived.] Ford called the meeting to order. Advisors approved the September meeting minutes.
Diane Linn, Office of Neighborhood Associations, addressed the committee. She said that the recent evaluation report for the Police-Citizen Mediation project shows that the program is a success. Because of the City Council's Measure 47 budget process, the Neighborhood Mediation Center is in transition to a private, non-profit organization. Mary Forst, former police officer and respected mediator, is assisting with the transition.
Linn would like to have further discussion with the Police Bureau about funding. She believes mediation is a cost-effective way to resolve disputes. She believes that 1½ staff positions might be dedicated.
The NMC confirmed that they are essentially meeting the timeliness standards.

PIIAC Appeal #97-17: The appellant addressed the panel, saying he felt he had been given the run-around with his complaint. He was stopped for a traffic violation while riding his motorcycle. The officer said he had been speeding, but he was not. The officer became hostile first, calling the appellant "boy." Only then did the appellant get angry.
Botsko provided additional information about the complaint, including information that the appellant had a lengthy DMV record and had his license suspended several times.
[Anttila arrived.]
Weisberg asked about the outcome of any court action; the appellant said he had not yet gone to court. Weisberg also asked if any witnesses observed the stop. The appellant said no. Wells asked the appellant if he had ever had problems with an officer before. The appellant said he did not usually have an attitude with officers, but this officer seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. He acknowledged that he had received numerous traffic citations, and said he had deserved those, but this time he was not speeding.
The appellant then said he was dissatisfied because he was expecting the officer to be at the hearing. Ueland asked if he was perhaps referring to the mediation process, which is different. The appellant said that's what he had wanted.
Wells made a motion to have PPB attempt to have the complaint mediated; Anttila seconded.
Botsko asked how the advisors wanted to handle the complaint if mediation was rejected by the officer. Advisors agreed that it the complaint would then return to them.
The motion passed unanimously [Y-9].
Advisors agreed that the case could come back to them if mediation did not occur.
New Business: Ford said that some advisors wanted to discuss the issue of Chief Moose's decision not to accept PIIAC recommendations on an appealed complaint. This was the second time over the course of the summer that the Chief had done so.
Ueland called for point of order. He believed this was outside the realm of the advisory process, and therefore inappropriate for discussion.
[Simon arrived.]
Weisberg said it was advisors' responsibility to monitor the entire complaint process. Ueland responded that advisors should then focus on the system, and not particular cases. Weisberg agreed that advisors could discuss this issue solely in the context of PIIAC structure. Simon thought this was the most serious issue facing advisors and suggested advisors form a subcommittee to address this. Ford and Weisberg agreed with this approach.
Weisberg had distributed a Willamette Week article which called the Chief the "Rogue of the Week" for rejecting PIIAC recommendations. Ueland pointed out that the Oregonian had also published an editorial with a different point of view, but Weisberg had not provided that to advisors. Ueland also said that it was only fair to point out that of three cases sent by PIIAC to the Chief with recommended sustained findings, the Chief agreed once and disagreed twice. That does not constitute any sort of trend. He expressed doubts that it would be possible to remove that final authority from any city bureau manager.
Weisberg and Simon were both of the opinion that PIIAC's work is meaningless if it can be ignored in the final analysis. If a majority of City Council members agree with the advisors' audit and recommendations, that should mean something.
Botsko mentioned that a tentative date has been set for a Council Informal regarding overall PIIAC systems review.
Weisberg made a motion to request the city attorney's office provide an opinion of whether city code and contract language would permit PIIAC recommendations to be binding upon the Chief. Ueland seconded. Simon offered a friendly amendment to the motion, that a subcommittee be established to track this issue. Advisors were agreeable to the amendment. The motion carried unanimously [Y-10].
Simon, Weisberg and Taylor volunteered to serve on the subcommittee.
Advisors went into Executive Session.
When advisors resumed Open Session, David Anderson of the Oregonian asked to comment for the record. He said that a portion of the material advisors discussed in Executive Session involved general policy issues, and was therefore improperly discussed within Executive Session. Weisberg told Anderson to follow the advice of his own legal counsel.

PIIAC #97-18: The committee discussed this case during a portion of the Executive Session, as the appeal involved an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint that had been sustained against several PPB officers.
Upon returning to Open Session, Heck and Botsko summarized the case and the advisors' previous discussion. Heck said that at some point in the future, advisors should examine what their charge should be with respect to this type of case.
The appellant is a Portland police sergeant who was one of the subjects of the investigation. Although the complainant had made several allegations against him, only one -- courtesy -- had been sustained.
His appeal was based on several factors: lack of timeliness of both complaint and investigation, lack of thorough investigation, disparate treatment with higher-level supervisors named in the complaint, and insufficient evidence to support the sustained finding.
Botsko and Heck had reviewed the investigation. Botsko noted that the investigators had made a good-faith effort to determine whether supervisors appropriately acted on information of possible wrongdoing. Some of the testimony was so inconsistent and contradictory, that it was impossible to determine who knew what when. The findings in these cases were "Insufficient Evidence," which were appropriate. Other supervisors had documented their attempts at resolving the problems, and that information was incorporated into the investigative file.
Timeliness has historically been a problem with PPB investigations. This case was no exception. Although the sustained allegation was for something that supposedly happened in 1991, it was included in the complainant's charges of a pattern of problems. The Bureau has no time restrictions in place.
The information relied upon to sustain the allegation was weak and mischaracterized in the written general summary. The complainant provided two different versions of the event in question and was not questioned on this point. Information was developed in the investigation that seriously undermined the complainant's credibility. She provided the name of one potential witness, Officer B, who contradicted himself in his interview. He was not sufficiently questioned about his equivocation. Chief Moose, in his letter to Sergeant A, quoted the general summary's account of Officer B's testimony. Also, others interviewed in the course of the investigation who may have been in a position to comment were not questioned about this allegation. However, no information was developed that would specifically refute the allegation, so a more appropriate finding would appear to be "Insufficient Evidence."
Botsko said that the case was so complex, and so much work already done, that she was hesitant to recommend further interviews. She suggested that Review Level Committee reconvene, and be provided with full information about both Officer B's and Sgt. A's testimony.
Ueland made a motion to have the PPB Review Level Committee reconvene and reconsider the finding. Botsko asked if the motion could include a stipulation that the Review Level Committee fully examine Sgt. A's and Officer B's testimony. Ueland agreed to include that as an addition to his motion. Frank seconded. The motion passed [Y-8; N-Anttila, Simon].
[Heck left.]
Additional Business: Ford summarized other discussion advisors held during Executive Session. The previous month, they had agreed to set a deadline for the City Attorney to release certain investigative materials to the monitoring subcommittee. Since then, Ford, Simon, and Botsko had met with the City Attorney Jeff Rogers and Mayor's Chief of Staff Sam Adams. Advisors could have further discussions with Rogers, or have him appear this meeting. Rogers was concerned about releasing investigative materials because of potential litigation, and Ford was not inclined to press the issue.
Ueland made a motion to proceed to City Council on the matter; Wells seconded.
Simon said she would vote against the motion. She wanted to table the issue pending further discussion. Rogers has not denied the materials to advisors, but believes the material is not appropriate to disclose to advisors. Rogers had provided information that changed Simon's mind about the need to obtain the materials now. She said there was room for "give and take" and the monitoring subcommittee can continue to be effective.
She said this case is a "white elephant" and the advisors have never gone to Council before on this type of issue. She fully trusts and hopes that the material will ultimately be released to the subcommittee.
Weisberg said he too would vote no, this is the first time such a dispute has arisen. If a pattern develops, advisors should become more alarmed. He recognized the importance of this issue with the monitoring subcommittee.
Well said he wanted to avoid having this case set a precedent. Ueland added that the Police Bureau, from the top down, has always cooperated fully with advisors. He firmly believed the case should be released to advisors, let the chips fall where they may.
Ford said he would vote no as he respects the City Attorney's legal advice. The time factor does not alarm him. Frank asked what the dire need was for the case.
The motion failed. [Y-Ueland, Wells; N-Anttila, Burney, Ford, Frank, Simon, Taylorp, Weisberg.]
Ford reiterated that advisors can meet with Rogers. Simon said she was not interested in attending. Ueland said there was no reason to meet with him.

Monitoring Subcommitee: Ueland reported. Advisors were provided draft copies of the Third Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report. He said that although the Chief's response to the Second Quarter report was appended, the response was not received in time for the advisors to respond.
Ueland summarized the report. PIIAC is now a national model of a citizen oversight function. He also pointed out the IAD was receiving an uncommon number of courtesy and communciation complaints. The recommendation was to have the Bureau adapt some of the communication training from the Crisis Intervention training program to regular officer training. Advisors also recommended that a fifth investigator position be restored to IAD.
Simon moved to accept the report, although she objected to some of the language about "requesting" certain actions from the Bureau. She thought the CIT training recommendation was a great idea. Ford asked if the advisors could proceed regardless of the language and Simon was agreeable.
Ueland made a motion to accept the monitoring report; Simon seconded. The motion passed unanimously [Y-9].

Additional/New Business:

1. PIIAC Appeal #97-13:
Ford asked Capt. Bennington to read a letter he recently sent to Ford, regarding PIIAC Appeal #97-13. [Advisors had requested additional investigation on the matter at their September meeting. Because one of the allegations had already been sustained, IAD had planned to research whether additional investigation might constitute double jeopardy.]
Bennington said that IAD could re-interview the officers and ask them about anything they wished. However, no further action could be taken on the old allegations; because one allegation was sustained, the entire complaint was essentially sustained. The appellant had brought up a new allegation, that the police report contained falsehoods, and IAD could review that charge.
2. New Request for Appeal
Botsko distributed a new appeal request, which advisors read. Simon made a motion to not consider the new appeal; Ueland seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-9].
3. Public Input
Capt. Garvey asked the committee if they thought taking advice from the same city attorney representing his case in litigation constitutes a conflict of interest. Kanwit responded that that was a matter for the advisors to decide, but personally disagreed.
Dan Handelman, Portland Copwatch, commented on PIIAC Appeal #97-17. He had been uncomfortable with the complainant's version of events, until the complainant admitted past wrongdoing. He asked about PIIAC Appeal #97-18: how could a sustained finding be reversed if discipline had already been imposed? Botsko replied that formal discipline had not been applied in this case, and that the any other finding would be reflected on the complainant's record. Handelman pointed out that both "no" votes on that case were from the two women sitting on the panel. Simon said that her vote had nothing to do with her gender.
He said he was pleased advisors formed a subcommittee to examine the issue of making findings binding upon the Chief. He agreed with David Anderson, that advisors had used Executive Session improperly. Kanwit clarified that at no point did she offer legal advice to any media members regarding the Executive Session.
He has mixed feelings about the investigative file withheld from advisors. He pointed out that the two people who voted to pursue the issue both serve on the monitoring subcommittee, and are therefore the most affected. He asked how advisors planned to re-visit this issue.
He approves of the recommendation regarding CIT training.
Nena Williams asked who was allowed to stay during Executive Sessions. Advisors clarified that it was any member of the media, and city employees.
Botsko announced that she and Anttila would be attending a civilian oversight conference the following week: National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE).
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Examiner