JUNE 11, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Gene Bales; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Steve Heck; Leora Mahoney; Dapo Sobomehin; Robert Ueland; Randall Weisberg; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Marina Anttila
City Staff Present: Sgt. Jeff Barker, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff; Sgt. John Smith, IAD
Media Present: Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus Video
[Sobomehin and Ueland not yet present.]
Ford called the meeting to order. The April meeting minutes were adopted.
PIIAC #98-05: Les Frank summarized. The appellant, a street preacher, was in front of a Mormon church preaching against the religion. A citizen contacted 911 to report that he was intimidating and shouting at passers-by. When officers arrived, they advised him against blocking the sidewalk or interfering with passers-by. They arrested him for disorderly conduct after he continued to shout and they could hear him a block away. The basis of the complaint was that his constitutional right to free speech had been violated. The D.A. assigned the complaint and Frank said that the merits of the arrest and legal issues were more appropriately decided in court.
[Sobomehin and Ueland arrived.]
Botsko added that a component of the appeal was that IAD had not sufficiently reviewed his treatment while in custody. In his interview tape, he had complained about not being allowed to remove his raincoat before being transported.
The appellant addressed the committee. He disputed that he was trespassing, harrassing or intimidating anyone. After the officers spoke with him and his companion, they started to leave and he began to preach to them about constitutional rights. It was at that point they decided to arrest him. They had no evidence upon which to base an arrest, the arrest was false. No one from the church had complained, no passers-by complained.
In addition, officers were abusive. He added that they refused to allow him to remove his rain gear before transport, forcing him to swelter in the heat of the car. This was clearly retaliatory. As he was being released, one of the officers told him not to raise his voice above conversational level, an order that officer had no right to give.
Sobomehin asked the appellant if this had ever happened to him before. The appellant said that it had twice: in 1990 and 1994.
Frank said that a court of law needs to decide the legal issues. Whether or not an arrested person is actually guilty of the offense is up to the court to decide. PIIAC’s function is to review the IAD investigation. IAD Sgt. Barker said that the District Attorney had issued a complaint on this, but could not have done so had there been no basis for arrest.
Frank made a motion to affirm the IAD investigation and PPB finding; Haring seconded. The motion carried [Y-9; Abstain-Ueland].
Ford said that he, Bob Ueland, Lisa Botsko and Emily Simon gave a panel presentation at the recent Neighborhoods USA conference. Quite a few attendees were trying to establish a citizen review body in their own jurisdiction, and the presentation was well-received.
He then introduced Dapo Sobomehin, newly appointed to the advisory committee by Commissioner Kafoury.
Ford added that he, Botsko and Capt. Bennington recently addressed a Haitian delegation about citizen oversight and police issues.
Dan Handelman, Copwatch, said he wanted to be kept updated about the upcoming PIIAC code revision efforts.
He commented on a previous meeting, in which he had been asked to shut his camera off during a PPB tactical demonstration. He subsequently contacted the Bureau and was told the Training Bureau had no written policy about this. Therefore, they acted improperly and advisors did as well by threatening to go into Executive Session.
Botsko clarified that the City Attorney indicated there was no clear legal guidance on the subject and she advised the committee to err on the side of openness. The issue will be further researched.
Stephen Heck said that in Citizens Academy, participants must sign a non-disclosure agreement. He believed that the Bureau could legitimately request citizens to keep information regarding training and tactics confidential.
Handelman mentioned a recent incident in which a citizen died while in police custody. He had been pepper-sprayed and "hogtied." He wants PIIAC to expand its review capacity to death-in-custody cases.
tracy addressed the committee. He said he was one of the activists that helped renew PIIAC years ago. He stated that the ability to shout out one’s opinions is part of our constitutional freedoms of speech. He did not know enough about this evening’s case but had the impression that the officer was being punitive. He regularly listens to a police scanner and believed that citizens are routinely arrested for being "smart-asses." Law enforcement is arbitrary; this case deserved a closer look by IAD.
Bales said that he believed advisors needed to convey more information about cases to the audience.
The meeting adjourned.