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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

February 12, 1998

FEBRUARY 12, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Stephen Heck; Leora Mahoney; Emily Simon; Jim Taylor; Robert Ueland; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: David Burney, Randy Weisberg
City Staff Present: Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, City Attorney's Office; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD;
Media Present: Loren Christensen, The Rap Sheet; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video

Ford called the meeting to order. [Anttila and Mahoney were not yet in attendance.] Approval of the meeting minutes will be postponed until next meeting.
Ford called for annual elections, postponed from January. Frank nominated Ford for Chair; Heck seconded. With no further nominations forthcoming, Ueland made a motion to close the nominations; Wells seconded. The nomination passed [Y-8; Abstain - Ford, Simon].
Simon said she did not wish to be re-elected as Vice-Chair. Taylor nominated Steve Heck for Vice-Chair. Ueland seconded. With no further nominations forthcoming, Ueland made a motion that the nominations be closed. Wells seconded. The nomination passed [Y-8; Abstain - Heck, Simon].
[Anttila arrived.]
PIIAC Appeal #98-01: Botsko summarized. This was a two-part complaint. The appellant had problems with neighbors stemming back a couple of years. He was ultimately issued a citation for trespassing into his neighbor's yard. He believed the officer should not have done that and said the officer had not even listened to his side of the story, which was that he was trying to retrieve his dog. The appellant had been found guilty of trespass when the matter went to court.
The second part of the complaint was that an unwanted person, a stranger, entered the appellant's home, saying the same officer had told him it would be all right to do that. The appellant ordered the stranger out; the person later tried to return but the appellant said no. Sometime after that, the appellant found a narcotics "hype" kit under his china hutch and turned it over to IAD.
Botsko had reviewed the IAD file, which contained a log written by the neighborhood response officer. This log detailed numerous efforts by the officer, a senior services person, neighborhood offices and the mediation center to help the neighbors resolve their problems, but to no avail. Ultimately the neighborhood officers were instructed to cite any further violations. Officer A was doing exactly what he had been instructed to do by citing the appellant; furthermore, his report reflected that he had listened to the appellant's story. Officer A had issued citations to others in the neighborhood, so was not singling out the appellant.
Regarding the second incident, Officer A said that he had ordered the unwanted person to leave the area, but the unwanted asked to make a telephone call from his "friend's" house, indicating the appellant. Officer A granted permission, but had not actually instructed the person to enter the appellant's home. The appellant did not have first-hand knowledge to support his claim.
The appellant addressed the committee and produced paperwork he had. He provided a copy of an ordinance restricting basketball-playing activities in the street. He said the police would not enforce this ordinance. He also had proof the neighbors had moved out of their residence two days before they complained about him trespassing.
[Mahoney arrived.]
The appellant invited the advisors to discuss their concerns. Ueland said he had none; that PIIAC was not the proper forum for the appellant's difficulties. He was satisfied that the officer had acted properly.
Simon asked if the complaint was that the officer issued a citation at all? Botsko said that she thought it was. Heck asked the appellant how things were going currently? The appellant described additional problems with the neighbors, such as having gravel thrown at him.
Ueland made a motion to affirm PPB's finding; Simon seconded.
Simon said that PPB conducted a fair and thorough investigation.
The motion carried unanimously [Y-11].
Botsko advised the appellant, who was hard of hearing, of what the vote meant. The appellant said the committee was worthless and he wanted their names and addresses. He wanted to pursue the matter to City Council. The appellant left the room.
Ford asked about the possibility of declining such appeals at the front end. Botsko said this is a policy question that the advisors need to decide. She would be willing to act on whatever criteria the advisors wanted to establish. Simon said this kind of case comes with the job.
Ueland asked about getting a sound system, referring to the appellant's hearing problems. Ford suggested requesting equipment.
Fourth Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report: Ueland reported. He described the contents of the report, which included follow-up to two of the Chief's response letters to previous monitoring reports. He pointed out that PPB's General Orders pertaining to discipline and complaint investigation have still not been completed.
Capt. Bennington explained the portion of the monitoring report describing his proposed "not sustained debriefing." This would be a mechanism by which a supervisor could discuss a complaint with an officer, even if that complaint could not be technically sustained. In the past, complaints are either sustained or not, but performance concerns might not be addressed. This way, they could be.
Capt. Bennington also described the study being conducted by Sam Houston University, which uses Portland as a test city to examine complaints and why they are made. Citizen satisfaction with the complaint process is one item that would be evaluated. The study is divided into several phases, and will not be completed for some time. He will keep the advisors posted.
One of the trends discussed in the monitoring report is off-duty officer conduct. What parameters can or should the Bureau establish regarding this, as it has been the topic of citizen complaints from time to time? Simon asked if the revised general orders address this? Capt. Bennington said no. Simon asked to clarify if the issue is courtesy. Botsko replied that the Bureau does have a "conduct" general order that applies to more serious conduct that "tends to discredit or bring reproach to the Bureau." There is also a general order that obligates officers to obey the law. However, the Bureau does not clarify what courtesy standards they expect of off-duty officers who identify themselves as officers while interacting with citizens. Heck commented that citizens do not distinguish between on or off-duty officers.
Botsko asked advisors what kind of recommendation they wanted to make: should the Bureau be asked to monitor the trend and look for ways to prevent such complaints? Or should there be an actual general order establishing guidelines? Simon was in favor of a general order revision.
Capt. Bennington addressed another issue that was raised in the monitoring report: timeliness, especially post-Review Level. He said that IAD is auditing open cases on a quarterly basis, and sending out notices to commanders or others holding cases past the due date. The development of a case management system should also help with this. Simon asked where the overdue cases were?
Capt. Bennington said human error is a factor. He hopes this has been corrected with the open case audits and will not be an ongoing problem. Personnel has seen three captains in six months. Botsko mentioned that a PIIAC appeal that was heard in May 1996 was still open this past quarter.
Wells said that the Bureau should have timeliness goals in place for all phases of the process. Capt. Bennington said that this suggestion has merit.

Simon said the monitoring subcommittee did a good job with the report. She made a motion to accept the report with the amendments; Anttila seconded. The motion carried [Y-11].

Announcements/New Business:
Ford said that a Council Informal on PIIAC systems review had met the previous week. This was educational for council members. One topic mentioned was a closed IAD investigation being held by the City Attorney. Once the lawsuit is filed, the information will be considered public record.
Simon said that the complainant's appeal was another issue dismissed. There is no public mechanism for complainants to learn of a disposition when the Chief does not accept a PIIAC recommendation. She also said that she had misunderstood and thought the advisory committee endorsement that the Chief present his conclusions in a public forum was unanimous, but it was not. The suggestion made at the Informal was that the Mayor would read the Chief's response into the record.
Botsko said that no final decisions were made at the Informal. The Mayor wants to put together a small group to look at possible code changes. This group may, of course, have other ideas. Botsko did have some concerns about the proposed solution on contested cases.
Anttila mentioned that a national conference on neighborhood involvement would be held in Portland in May, and will include a presentation on PIIAC. Ueland mentioned the National Community Policing Conference to be held in September. He would like the advisory committee to participate, unlike last time when they were not included. Wells highly recommended that advisors attend this conference.
Public Input: Handelman addressed the panel. He said that anonymity is a concern; when appellants go to Council, their name should be kept anonymous. He would like this reflected in PIIAC code changes.
He supports not filtering out complaints and was glad the advisors listened to the appellant this evening.
He asked a question about the appellant in the recent case involving an EEO matter. He said that person had been the subject, not complainant, in an investigation. Botsko clarified that PIIAC code language specifically grants subjects of a complaint a right to a PIIAC appeal.
Handleman added that he would like the committee to look at findings categories utilized by the Los Angeles Police Dept.
Referring to the Sam Houston study, he said that he would like to see a complete audit of the complaint investigation and PIIAC process conducted.
The issue of officers identifying themselves when off-duty is important. Once that occurs, the balance of power shifts.
He said that the idea of the Mayor reading the Chief's response is a far cry from the Council's having the final vote. The Mayor is not likely to ask the Chief to sustain a complaint. In the Council Informal, the Chief mentioned that he would be uncomfortable telling Council things like the officer cried when discussing the complaint. If the Chief lets someone off for crying, it makes a mockery of the process.
Ford asked advisors to schedule a Work Session. They agreed to meet Tuesday, February 24, 5 p.m. in the Mayor's Office.
Botsko also introduced Gene Bales, who was sitting in the audience. He has been selected to replace David Burney, as East Portland Neighborhood Office's appointment to the PIIAC advisory committee. His appointment would be confirmed the following week.
Simon thanked Sgt. Killinger for having previously assisted the appellant in case #98-01.
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko