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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

November 12, 1999

Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee
November 12, 1999
(Approved December 9, 1999)
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Ric Alexander; Gene Bales; Leora Mahoney; Jose Martinez; Dapo Sobomehin; Denise Stone; Robert Wells;
Citizen Advisors Absent: Les Frank (on leave of absence until January 2000)
City Staff Present: Capt. Bret Smith, IAD; Sgt. Jerry Jones, IAD; Sgt. Jay Drum, IAD; Lynne Borden (IAD); Dr. Michael Hess, PIIAC Examiner
Media Present: Dan Handelman (Portland Copwatch)
Mr. Ford opened the meeting at approximately 5:30 p.m. The PIIAC Citizen Advisors and the City Staff introduced themselves. Mr. Ford welcomed two new PIIAC advisors, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Alexander.
PIIAC #99-21 (IAD #99-164)
Advisor Stone presented this case, offering a summary of the case and her recommendations. The Appellant was present.
The complaint arose from a June 8, 1999, incident at the home of the Appellant’s mother, where the Appellant was living. Her brother and her brother’s two children were at the scene. The appellant’s brother called for police intervention because the Appellant questioned the validity of a restraining order against her. Officers responded to the brother’s call and, after reviewing the restraining order, advised the Appellant that she had twenty minutes to leave the premises.
Subsequently, after interviewing the Appellant’s mother and brother, Officer A decided to place the Appellant in custody on mental hold and transport her to a local mental health facility.
The Appellant filed the following complaints to IAD:
1. That officers violated the Appellant’s civil liberties by not allowing her the twenty minutes specified in the restraining order to leave the premises;
2. That officers searched Appellant's belongings without her permission;
3. That officers violated General Orders by entering a private residence and placing the Appellant on mental hold;
4. That officers considered evidence that was not found at the scene;
5. That officers failed to cite the specific law when making the arrest;
6. That officers were negligent in the performance of their duties;
7. That officers acted out of retaliation from a previous police complaint.
Advisor Stone then addressed each of the above complaints:
1. The conditions stated in the restraining order were superseded by the officers' determination that the Appellant should be placed on mental hold.
2. Officers are required to search a person's belongings when placing the person in custody for a mental hold.
3. Officers were invited into the residence to attest to the authenticity of the restraining order.
4. Officers did not consider evidence that was not found on the scene. (referring to a pitchfork that was not considered as evidence regarding the mental hold)
5. Officers fully followed general orders regarding mental holds
6. Officers fully documented their decisions and actions in their reports.
7. There is no evidence to support the allegation of retaliation.
Advisor Stone recommended affirmation of the declination of an IAD investigation as determined Capt. Smith.
Mr. Ford invited the Appellant to express her comments. The Appellant stated the following:
The ORS (Oregon Revised Statutes) state that to be placed on mental hold a person must be "suicidal or homicidal," so she should not have been placed on mental hold. The residence was her residence also, not just that of her mother, and that the officers were not invited in. The fact that four police officers and a commanding officer entered the premises was an act of intimidation and harassment. There was no reason for her to be placed in custody, since she was intending to leave the residence as ordered by the restraining order.
The Appellant then passed around a copy of the restraining order.
Dr. Hess clarified that the ORS statute on officer mental hold does not include the words suicidal or homicidal, but states rather that an officer "may take into custody a person who the officer has probable cause to believe is dangerous to self or any other person and
is in need of immediate care, custody, or treatment for mental illness." (Quotation taken from Peace Officer's Pocket Guide to Oregon Revised Statutes 1998-99.)
Advisor Wells asked the Appellant for further explanation of why she felt intimidated by the police officers, and she reiterated that having four police officers responding to a restraining order was in itself very intimidating. Capt. Smith added that the officer who did the mental hold had been trained in the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) program to effectively communicate with persons with mental health problems and that the person was subsequently evaluated by a doctor.
Mr. Ford asked the appellant what her expectations were in coming before PIIAC. The Appellant stated that in her opinion IAD fell very short of evaluating what happened, so she wanted to take it to the next step.
Mr. Ford asked Ms. Stone to repeat her recommendation, which she then stated in the form of a motion. Advisor Martinez seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously [Y-8].
PIIAC #99-18 (IAD #99-009)
Appellant was present. Advisor Wells presented this case as follows:
This was a very convoluted case concerning a series of incidents involving the Appellant, Sergeant A, Captain A, an investigating Captain about Captain A, and two staff members of IAD.
The Appellant alleges that Captain A' s conduct towards her on the telephone was inappropriate and that this captain tried to get the Appellant to cease IAD complaints against Sergeant A, whom the Appellant had contacted regarding a photo-radar manual. IAD has bifurcated (split) the complaint against Captain A and Sergeant A, and we are only dealing with the complaint against Captain A tonight. The Appellant also alleges that Captain A deliberately lied to her about obtaining public records.
The following background was given: the Appellant was caught by a photo radar speed device. Although not issued a citation, she asked to view the photo-radar manual. Since this manual is a manufacturer's proprietary document, Sergeant A explained to the Appellant that in order for her to view it, there would have to be a Portland Police
member present, and that according to City Ordinance a fee had to be charged based on the hourly pay of the person supervising the reading of the document.
In her interview the Appellant expresses her feeling that the rates of viewing the manual did not reflect the actual cost. The complaint regarding conduct and procedure involving Captain A was somehow increased to that of lying. The investigating officer did not allow the Appellant to rebut the lying by Captain A, and the Appellant questioned the truthfulness of another IAD investigator as well.
In the Appellant's written PIIAC complaint, the Appellant cites two criminal statutes and feels that the investigating officer was wrong in not determining criminal charges of Coercion, a Class C felony punishable by possible penitentiary time, and Official Misconduct, a Class A Misdemeanor with possible county jail time, against Captain A. The Appellant thus increased the severity of her initial complaints of conduct and procedure to criminal allegations.
The record shows that Captain A advised the Appellant in writing that if she was willing to wait until the photo-radar manual was transferred to Records, she could then view the manual at less cost.
Advisor Wells then directed the following question to the Appellant. Does the entire sequence of events, including Captain A and the IAD investigation, rise to the level of felony and misdemeanor, which involve possible jail time or dismissal?
The Appellant responded that she had come across the given ORS statutes and she considered that Captain A's conduct in trying to get her to drop her complaint against Sergeant A was so egregious that it warranted Capt. Bennington's consideration of whether it met the criteria of a criminal act. She wanted confirmation from Capt. Bennington that he had consulted with the City Attorney's Office or with the D.A. about a possible coercion charge.
Mr. Ford asked Mr. Wells to continue his presentation. Mr. Wells asked why Capt. A would lie to to the Appellant and make this into more than it is when he corresponded with her and explained what she needed to do to have access to the manual. He said that Capt. A's questions to the Appellant (What can I do to make you happy? What can I do to make this go away?) were not in reference to the Appellant's complaint about Sergeant A but rather reflected an effort on his part to help the Appellant to understand the requirements of the public records laws.
Mr. Ford then asked Mr. Wells to summarize his comments so that the committee could move forward towards a decision based on the facts of this case. Mr. Wells stated that all remained were his recommendations to the committee.
The Appellant stated that Captain A did not explain to her the public laws regarding records. She said that the confusion arose from the fact that at that time there was not a fee schedule or a mechanism for a member of the public to review documents in the sole custody of the Traffic Division.
The Appellant then summarized her view of what was wrong with the investigation of her complaint. She related her consternation at having her picture taken by photo-radar and her frustration in calling the Traffic Division and being told by a sergeant that she would be charged a substantial hourly fee to read the photo-radar manual. She then filed an IAD complaint against the sergeant based on her perception that his statements were meant as a threat to impede her access to public records.
Mr. Ford asked the Appellant to summarize her complaint and to express her expectations in appealing to PIIAC. The Appellant asked for an opportunity to outline the lack of thoroughness and integrity of the IAD investigation, as follows:
  • That in the initial intake process the allegations of whether a criminal action occurred were not looked into;
  • That she was not fully interviewed;
  • That pertinent details were omitted;
  • That her statements were not accurately represented in the interview summary;
  • That tapes of some of her conversations with IAD intake personnel were not in the file
  • That the IAD investigator failed to consider a potential conflict of interest in that a captain against whom the Appellant had a complaint continued to conduct the investigation regarding Sergeant A.
Mr. Ford asked the Appellant at this point to allow the advisors to hear the recommendations of the advisor who examined this case.
Advisor Wells proposed the following recommendations:
1. That the IAD inquiry regarding Captain A go no further and that the inquiry of Captain A be noted as complete, objective, and fair.
2. That the original complaint against Sergeant A be treated as a completely separate issue.
3. That the Monitoring Subcommittee look at IAD timeliness issues.
Ms. Mahoney seconded the motion.
After further discussion the advisors voted in favor of the motion. [Y -7] Advisor Martinez abstained.
Mr. Ford thanked the Appellant and assured her that certain elements of her complaint (e.g., fee schedules and access to public records) would be addressed by PIIAC's Monitoring Subcommittee.
The Appellant then asked about the implications of Senate Bill 975 and whether she would have access to the IAD files regarding her complaint against Sergeant A. Capt. Smith explained that Senate Bill 975 has to do with the release of personnel files when there is an unsustained finding. PIIAC examinations are an exception. In the past, files regarding unsustained findings were accessible to the appellant, but the Senate bill changed that.
Dr. Hess advised the Appellant to submit a written request within 30 days if she desires to take her appeal before City Council.
Other Business
The minutes of the October PIIAC meeting were approved. Mr. Ford announced that there will be an election of officers at the December 9 meeting. Meeting will be in the City Hall, since a meeting place in the community has not yet been confirmed.
Public Input
A community member expressed her understanding that what the latter Appellant was challenging was the ethics of the investigation. She pointed out that it is a cause for concern whenever a citizen perceives that a public officer has been unethical.
Mr. Handelman from Portland Copwatch expressed grave concern about the comments regarding Senate Bill 975. He said that PIIAC was created to provide the public a window to Internal Affairs.
Capt. Smith reiterated that Senate Bill 975 does not affect PIIAC's access to IAD files, but that individual appellants will no longer be able to get unsustained files as they have in the past unless they meet certain criteria established by law that is similar to sustained files. The Bureau is now looking at the policies in regard to this. Mr. Handelman said that he hopes this will be an issue that PIIAC follows up on.
Regarding procedural matters, Mr. Handelman suggested that instead of using designations such as "Officer A," "Sergeant A," "Captain A," etc., it would be less confusing if the examiner used different letters of the alphabet to designate different persons. He also expressed his concerns about street police officers who have not had full CIT training making decisions regarding mental hold. Capt. Smith responded that all Portland Police officers have received sufficient training to make these decisions and that the ORS does not require police officers to have the full CIT training to make these decisions. Mr. Handelman suggested again that there should be a flow chart available at PIIAC meetings so that appellants will better understand PIIAC procedure.
The second appellant stated that she did feel that she was given sufficient time to present her case because she had to use most of her time to answer the questions of the advisors. Mr. Ford disagreed, stating that she was given ample time.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by
Michael H. Hess, D.D.S.
PIIAC Examiner