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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

April 9, 1998

APRIL 9, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Gene Bales; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Steve Heck; Leora Mahoney; Robert Ueland; Randall Weisberg; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Emily Simon
City Staff Present: Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Adrianne Brockman, City Attorney's Office; Officer Paul Dolby, PPB Training Division; Sgt. Donna Henderson; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Officer Scott Montgomery, PPB Training Division
Media Present: Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
[Anttila not yet present.]
Ford called the meeting to order. He said he would change the order of the agenda items because Ueland had to leave early. The March meeting minutes were accepted with one amendment.
PIIAC #98-03: Botsko summarized. IAD had declined this complaint. The appellant claimed that an officer from PPB's Domestic Violence Unit had improperly prepared a restraining order against him on behalf of his wife.
The officer had made up lies and pressured his wife into signing the restraining order. The appellant also said the restraining order was vacated by the judge. Botsko added that police reports in IAD's file reflected two officers' observations of injuries to the wife, and related the wife's account of the appellant's actions against her. The complaint was declined because DVRU officers can assist a victim file a restraining order and information supported that response.
The appellant addressed the committee. He said he is from the Fiji Islands, is very religious, and his marriage to his wife had been arranged. He hired an attorney to investigate her and learned a great deal about her character. He believes his wife was manipulating "the system" to her advantage, and that the system is biased against men. He mentioned some allegations that had not been provided to advisors; Capt. Bennington clarified that these were the substance of a different complaint. Botsko said no appeal had been filed for the second complaint.
Capt. Bennington added that the law and PPB policy mandates officers to make an arrest with probable cause, which they had in this instance. The Domestic Violence Unit is specialized, and officers do assist victims obtain shelter and restraining orders. He believed the appellant objected to the procedure, and he declined the complaint because the appellant did not allege anything that would specifically violate PPB's rules.
Heck asked the appellant about the length of time the appellant waited before filing a complaint. The appellant said his religious background causes him to be philosophical, but after speaking with American ministers who urged him to fight for his rights, he decided to file a complaint.
Weisberg asked the appellant if his wife showed up for the restraining order hearing. The appellant said no, she had moved out-of-state. Weisberg said that is why the judge vacated the order. He said he did not agree with IAD's declining a case where allegations could state a violation, even as unlikely as it may be in this case. He did not believe this case could be productively investigated, with the wife unavailable, but IAD should have attempted to arrive at a conclusion about the case, even if that would have been Insufficient Evidence or Unfounded.
Ueland said that the appellant provided no compelling evidence that Officer A's actions were in any way improper.
Ueland made a motion to affirm PPB's declination. Haring seconded. The motion carried [Y-Bales, Ford, Frank, Ueland, Wells; Abstain-Haring, Heck, Mahoney, Weisberg].
Monitoring Subcommittee: Ueland reported on the First Quarter 1998 Monitoring Report draft.
[Anttila arrived.]
The monitoring report mentioned various issues. One is the Bureau's public response when specific events lead to community concerns about police practices. One thing IAD and PIIAC need to look at is ways to ensure the community knows what accountability mechanisms are in place. To this end, the Public Information Officer, Cliff Madison, will meet with the monitoring subcommittee. IAD is continually assessing where complaint forms should be located. PPB has not responded to the subcommittee's ongoing requests to have the complaint materials translated into Spanish; therefore, the subcommittee will take the initiative in getting these translated, then provide them to IAD for publication.
Secondly, the monitoring subcommittee reviewed two cases in which legal support for officer actions was not adequately researched. In one case, previously heard as an appeal by the committee, a protestor had his sign confiscated. In another, a jaywalk pretext stop evolved into a seizure of pager, cellular phone and bulletproof vest, purportedly as evidence of gang and drug activity. The items were returned when PPB could not develop the case. The committee is requesting that the Bureau obtain better legal clarification with these two complaints.
Ford mentioned that during the Mayor's Initiative to improve PIIAC several years ago, the idea of putting complaint forms out in the neighborhood coalition offices met with some resistance. He thinks that idea should be revisited. Wells asked why there was resistance? Ford said he did not know.
Ueland said that the monitoring report identified timeliness as an ongoing problem for the Bureau -- most recent quarterly statistics show over 14 months on IAD cases. Botsko clarified that IAD's statistics are hurt when the process bogs down in other areas.
Ueland mentioned that the past quarter's case reviews showed several cases getting bogged down with a particular person, and the subcommittee asks the question about what standards of accountability are applied to those responsible for adjudication. The monitoring subcommittee has previously emphasized IAD's budget needs.
Capt. Bennington said that IAD's new quarterly audit will assist in identifying overdue cases. Botsko said that the monitoring subcommittee routinely looks at how long cases are spending in commander's offices, and there really has not been a problem with any but this one recently. Bennington said that particular commander has been spoken to.
Wells asked about IAD's request for new software. Capt. Bennington said that the target date would be January 1, 1999. Weisberg asked why it is so difficult to track cases manually. Capt. Bennington said that it's not, but what he is looking for in upgraded software would be the data analysis capabilities, which would be a help for the Early Warning System.
Ford asked about case backlog. Bennington said inquiries, done in the precincts and divisions, are taking about 6 months, IAD investigations are taking 12 months. IAD investigators have 20-plus cases.
Botsko asked how much time IAD is taking to call back complainants. Killinger said it depended on who was available. They receive a surprising amount of bad contact information. But with good information, callers get return phone calls within 3 - 4 days.
Heck made a motion to accept the report; Frank seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-10].
Weisberg suggested that the declination issue be included in a monitoring report. Botsko said the subcommittee could incorporate that into the next report.
Capt. Bennington introduced Sgt. Donna Henderson, who is replacing George Babnick.
PPB Training Division Presentation: Officers Scott Montgomery and Paul Dolby provided information about their training program. They said they focus on four areas: defensive tactics, firearms, patrol, police vehicle operations -- all designed around officer safety. They described the Bureau's levels of control, handcuffing, San Kayjo hold, and how officers are instructed to get handcuffed persons up off the ground.
They also commented on the issues of Sudden Death Syndrome. This is a phenomena that has occurred throughout the nation, wherein someone in custody suddenly stops breathing and quickly dies. While the causes are still undetermined, certain common denominators have been identified, such as a person being highly agitated, overweight, high on drugs or alcohol, placed in maximum restraint -- and PPB is instructing officers about signs to look for and ways to help prevent such deaths, such as how a prisoner is placed while being transported.
Announcements/New Business:
Weisberg suggested doing monitoring reports only twice a year. Botsko said that quarterly reports are required per code language, but that this could be looked at in upcoming code changes.
Weisberg made a motion to request bi-annual monitoring reports in upcoming code language changes; Antilla seconded. The motion carried unanimously [Y-10].
Ford mentioned that some citizen advisors and PIIAC staff will do a panel presentation on PIIAC at the Neighborhood USA conference in May. He suggested providing a sample monitoring report. Weisberg suggested an appeal report as well.
Capt. Bennington met with individuals involved in the mediation project. The Mediation Center will be funded until July, and are currently handling police-citizen mediations.
Public Input:
Handelman addressed the committee. He asked if a time frame had been established with respect to the replacement ordinance? Botsko said it had not.
He also wondered if the neighborhood coalitions' reluctance to display complaint forms might be because they could be perceived as being "against" police for doing so.
He thought that the production of monitoring reports on a quarterly basis is very important.
The meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Botsko
PIIAC Examiner