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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

January 8, 1998

JANUARY 8, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Stephen Heck; Leora Mahoney; Emily Simon; Jim Taylor; Robert Ueland; Randy Weisberg; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Emily Simon
City Staff Present: Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, Deputy City Attorney; Sgt. George Babnick, IAD; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Leo Painton, Portland Police Assoc.; John Smith, IAD
Media Present: Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video

[Anttila and Weisberg not yet present.]
Ford called the meeting to order. Advisors approved the December minutes They decided to postpone elections until the February meeting.
PIIAC Appeal #97-23: Botsko summarized. The appellant, an attorney, responded to a traffic stop after receiving a call from one of his clients. In the past, the appellant had prevailed on behalf of this client with respect to a claim against Officer A. Officer A was present at this same traffic stop. The appellant called Officer A an "asshole," and the officer replied by suggesting the appellant use Rogaine, a hair-growth treatment. The appellant filed a complaint, alleging that Officer A violated general orders regarding courtesy.
The appellant addressed the committee. He provided some background on the history of his client and Officer A. He said that the traffic stop was questionable.
[Antilla arrived.]
He also explained that the Bureau has no method for sanctioning officers when financial awards are won. He has had limited success with Internal Affairs.
Wells asked the appellant if he was an officer of the court. The appellant said he was. Wells asked if the appellant thought his own conduct was proper, and whether professional colleagues would make the same sort of remark to a police officer. The appellant said that the officer has the option of filing a complaint with the Bar Association, but that his duty is to the public, not to public servants.
Heck asked the appellant to explain Capt. Bennington's statement in the letter of disposition that the appellant was filing complaints without merit. The appellant said that if a complaint ends up as one person's word against an officer's, that complaint is found to be unsubstantiated. He was surprised about Capt. Bennington's accusation, because he (the appellant) spends time talking to clients and witnesses, so is in a different position to judge the merits of a complaint.
Capt. Bennington said that the issue is not what happened to the appellant's client. That complaint is being handled separately. The focus is on what occurred with the appellant. A variety of factors were taken into consideration, including the fact that a trainee was issuing a citation, a crowd was forming, and a potentially volatile situation developing. There is no question that the "Rogaine" comment is rude by itself and the officer should not have said that. But IAD decided to decline the complaint based on the appellant's own provocative actions and credibility.
The appellant replied that the "volatile" situation consisted of two citizens approaching the scene, then leaving at his request.
Ueland asked if the appellant intended to provoke Officer A. The appellant said he had not wanted to shake hands with Officer A, but did so with the officer's partner.
Anttila made a motion to not support IAD's declination; Wells seconded.
Ueland said he would not support the motion, because Officer A's comment does not rise to the level of discourtesy. Frank agreed, adding that the appellant is an officer of the court and that his approach caused him to receive the response he did.
The motion failed [Y-Anttila, Wells; N - Ford, Frank, Haring, Heck, Ueland]

Announcements/New Business:
Ueland said that the monitoring report would be delayed one month.
Capt. Bennington said that Botsko would assist with an upcoming course sponsored by IAD on conducting complaint investigations. Wells asked if the advisors could audit the course; Bennington said yes.
Ford said that he would like advisors to meet for a work session, outside of the regular meeting. He also encouraged advisors to join the monitoring subcommittee. Ueland said that he would like continued discussion on having a mission statement, and absenteeism.
Botsko said that the Mediation Center was reducing their case backlog with the help of some interim managers. Capt. Bennington said he is currently not assigning complaints for mediation until he gets the green light. Ford said he attended the mediation steering committee meeting the previous night. Commissioner Kafoury was asking for recommendations by February. Capt. Bennington said that at the project's inception, the Bureau was committed to the idea of funding, but the ability to do that depends on the financial picture.
Weisberg provided an update. An ad hoc subcommittee had met the previous week, to discuss policy issues regarding the Chief not accepting recommended findings on contested appeals. The consensus was to not pursue changes to city code or union contracts; that's not something that could be accomplished overnight. Rather, the subcommittee suggests that if the Chief does not accept a recommended finding from City Council, he personally appear in a Council session to explain his rationale. Weisberg said that for now, this seems to be the only practical solution. There are philosophical issues involved; if a disturbing pattern develops, this could be a catalyst for change.
Capt. Bennington asked to clarify that this would pertain to those recommendations with which the Chief disagreed. Weisberg confirmed that.
Botsko said that one concern from some Bureau members was possible confidential issues being discussed in a public forum. However, City Council has the ability to go into Executive Session should that situation arise.
Weisberg made a motion to recommend this procedural change; Anttila seconded.
Ueland said he did not support the motion. The Chief does reply in writing. He is concerned about officer privacy. Wells said he assumed that such a disagreement might occur only once or twice a year at most.
The motion carried [Y-Anttila, Ford, Haring, Heck, Mahoney, Weisberg, Wells; N-Frank, Ueland].
Ford commented on Simon's recent appearance on a television news segment. She told the reporter that her comments represented her personal opinion, but the end result was a perception that she was speaking on behalf of PIIAC. Simon had apologized to Ford and promised to be careful. Ueland asked to put this topic on the work session agenda.

Public Input:
Dan Handelman addressed the committee. He complimented Capt. Bennington from refraining from using names when discussing a case.
With respect to appeal #97-24, he suggested mediation. Capt. Bennington said this came up a month ago.
Handelman also said that if mediation is the Bureau provides financial support for the mediation program, the public might perceive it as a Bureau-driven program.
He disagreed with IAD's declination of the appeal heard earlier.
He distributed copies of suggestions from his organization, with respect to the ad hoc subcommittee meeting. These included suggestions that the Chief be held to timelines, that PIIAC undergo a formal quality review. He also distributed copies of the latest People's Police Report.
Botsko said that the PIIAC committee needed a representative to the Chief's Forum.
Ford mentioned that the Overlook Restaurant donated the meatballs at last month's potluck.
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner