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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

1999 Monitoring Report

Monitoring Subcommittee Members
Robert Ueland, Chair
Robert Wells
Denise Stone
Michael H. Hess, PIIAC Examiner
Approved by PIIAC Citizen Advisors
January 13, 2000
Submitted to City Council: January 26, 2000

The PIIAC Citizen Advisors Monitoring Subcommittee is responsible for surveying cases handled by the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs Division (PPB/IAD) involving citizens’ and PPB employees' complaints about alleged police misconduct. The Subcommittee analyzes complaints, IAD's investigations, and Risk Management data to "highlight trends of police performance, suggesting necessary Police Bureau policy and procedural changes. Patterns of behavior, unclear procedures, policy issues and training needs may be identified for review."
Due to staff turnover, this report combines monitoring results from fourth quarter 1998 and all four quarters of calendar year 1999.
The Chief’s response to the Second/Third Quarter 1998 Monitoring Report is attached to this report.
PIIAC requested that the Bureau research the legal and policy questions surrounding a complaint in which a suspect’s pager, cellular phone, and bulletproof vest were seized as evidence of suspected drug activity, even though no weapons, drugs, or paraphernalia were found on his person. (He was searched incident to a jaywalk arrest.) PPB referred this recommendation to the City Attorney, DA’s Office, and Police Bureau Risk Management. The Police Bureau was advised to review its policies on search and seizure and ensure that they provide adequate guidance. The Chief reported that "GO 660.50 (Search, Seizure, Reporting) establishes policy and provides sufficient guidelines."
PIIAC also requested that the Police Bureau develop an implementation plan for the development of the IAD complaint form and brochure in Spanish. The Asian Law Enforcement Advisory Council of Oregon recommended providing Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian versions of these materials. The Chief reported that "the project was completed and the brochures have been distributed." PPB should be commended for this expression of outreach to diverse cultures in the Portland area.
Citizen Advisors recommend that the IAD complaint forms and brochures also be provided in the Hmong and Mien languages.
Responses to the remaining recommendations are included in the attachment.
A. Change in PIIAC Staff
On June 3, 1999, PIIAC Examiner Lisa Botsko resigned. A community selection committee was formed and after a limited national search Dr. Michael H. Hess was selected. Dr. Hess began his PIIAC duties on August 30, 1999. PIIAC public meetings on resumed on September 16, 1999.
B. New IAD Captain
In May 1999 Captain Bret Smith was assigned as IAD Captain, replacing Captain William Bennington, who retired from the PPB.
C. PIIAC Advisory Committee back to full strength
The 13-member PIIAC Advisory Committee was down to seven members when public meetings resumed in September 1999. Since then all vacancies have been filled. Newly appointed members include: Jose Martinez (Mayor Katz); Ric Alexander (Northeast Coalition); Kitsy Brown Mahoney (Northwest Coalition); Shirlie Karl (Southwest Neighborhoods); and Tou Cha (Commissioner Francesconi). Les Frank (Southeast Uplift) will return in January 2000 from a temporary leave of absence.
On December 9, 1999, Charles Ford (Mayor Katz) was re-elected as PIIAC Chair for the year 2000. Denise Stone (Erik Sten) was elected as Vice-Chair.
II. Cases Appealed / Monitored
During calendar year 1999, PIIAC advisors accepted 25 new appeals. The decrease in appeals noted in the Second/Third Quarter 1998 Monitoring Report was too short-lived to be considered a trend.
Since resumption of PIIAC activities in August 1999, the following cases were heard:
PIIAC Case #99-04 (IAD Case #97-258)
Case was originally presented on 4/29/99. PIIAC advisors postponed a final motion and vote until a finding regarding the Communication aspect of the complaint was rendered. The Communication aspect involved a late night traffic stop in which the appellant alleged that the primary officer displayed rude and verbally abusive conduct. He alleged that the officer ordered him to keep his hands on the wheel and followed with the question, "Where’s your wallet?" When the appellant reached for his wallet, the officer allegedly became abusive and said, "We’ll teach you to keep your hands where we told you." Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend changing the finding from "Insufficient Evidence" to "Insufficient Evidence with Debriefing."
PIIAC Case #99-16 (IAD Case #98-326)
Appellant alleged that during a routine traffic stop the cover officer spoke to her in a demeaning manner and asked her if she was "a fucking mental." The complaint was assigned as an inquiry to the officer’s precinct commander, and as a result the officer was counseled by his supervisor on the appropriate use of verbal force needed to control a situation. PIIAC advisors voted unanimously to affirm the results of the inquiry.
PIIAC Case #99-17 (IAD Case #99-074)
Appellant alleged that an off-duty police sergeant made a discourteous gesture toward her at a college cafeteria. Advisors voted unanimously to affirm the decision of the IAD Captain to deny investigation of this complaint.
PIIAC Case #99-19 (IAD Case #98-036)
Appellant alleged that two police officers used excessive force in arresting him. Advisors voted 4-1 to affirm the IAD finding of Exonerated. Appellant requested an appeal before the City Council, but his probation was independently revoked for another reason, and he is currently incarcerated in the Oregon State Penitentiary.
PIIAC Case #99-09 (IAD Case #99-011)
Appellant alleged that in an encounter at the courthouse an officer called him a liar, accused him of making a false police report, and threatened him with arrest. Advisors voted unanimously (with one abstention) to affirm the IAD finding of Exonerated on Conduct and Procedure.
PIIAC Case #99-23 (IAD Case #99-187)
Appellant alleged that police officers illegally searched her house and left it damaged and in disarray during service of the search warrant. Advisors voted 5-1 to affirm the decision of the IAD Captain to deny investigation of this complaint. Appellant has requested an appeal before the City Council. (A bifurcated complaint of excessive use of force relating to this complaint is being investigated.)
PIIAC Case #99-20 (IAD Case #99-082)
Appellant alleged that a police officer harassed her by making false statements about her to her neighbors, arrested and transported her to the Justice Center for a minor littering infraction, and patted her down without justification. Advisors voted unanimously (with one abstention) to affirm the IAD finding of Exoneration for Conduct and Procedure and Unfounded on the allegation that the officer made false statements about the appellant.
PIIAC Case #99-18 (IAD Case #99-009)
Appellant alleged that a PPB captain’s conduct on the phone was condescending and inappropriate and that he lied about the appellant’s ability to obtain public records from the Police Bureau. Advisors voted unamimously to affirm the IAD finding of Exonerated. Appellant has requested an appeal before the City Council.
PIIAC Case #99-21 (IAD Case #99-164)
Appellant alleged PPB officers violated her civil liberties by placing her in custody, that they were not truthful, and that they searched her belongings without permission. She also alleged that officers placed her in custody in retaliation for a previous IAD complaint. Advisors voted unanimously to affirm the IAD Captain’s decision to decline this complaint. Appellant has requested an appeal before the City Council.
PIIAC Case #99-22 (IAD Case #99-108)
Appellant alleged that following an incident in which he was the victim of an assault, a PPB officer did not interview witnesses at the scene and dismissed the incident as mutual combat. Advisors voted 5-3 to affirm the IAD’s decision, based on the results of an inquiry, not to investigate this case.
PIIAC Case #99-15 (IAD Case #98-013)
Appellant alleged that a PPB officer arrested him without sufficient cause, that his car was unjustly towed, that he was released from East Precinct at 2:30 a.m. without means of transportation, and that the officer was a racist. Advisors voted 7-1 to affirm the IAD findings of Exonerated with Debriefing on the Conduct aspect, Unfounded on the Disparate Treatment aspect, and Exonerated on the Procedure aspect.
The PIIAC Monitoring Subcommittee monitored an additional 19 closed IAD investigations. We monitor all closed cases that fall into the following categories: use of force, disparate treatment, complaints with sustained findings, and cases that went to PPB’s Review Level Committee. Cases with less significant allegations are not routinely audited unless they are appealed.
Cases reviewed for monitoring reflected the following types of allegations:
Property 2
Use of Force 14
Conduct 6
Disparate Treatment 2
Communication 4
Performance 0
Procedure 5
The findings reflected the following:
Unfounded 5
Exonerated 7
Insufficient Evidence 10
Sustained 4
Suspended 1
Inquiry 2
Declined 0

Sustained complaints had been initiated both internally (Bureau members) and externally (from citizens). Allegations that were Sustained included improper handling of property (lost wallet), a police officer candidate lying about college degree status, and use of degrading language and taking a person to a detoxification center without sufficient reason and in apparent retaliation for the person yelling a derogatory term at police officers.
III. Improvements in Timeliness
IAD Captain Bret Smith has instituted effective management procedures to improve the timeliness of IAD investigations and to deal with the significant backlog of IAD complaints. PIIAC has noted a marked improvement in turnaround times over the past several months. Several cases that had been deadlocked have now been investigated and adjudicated. To the credit of IAD, many of the recommendations regarding timeliness that were outlined in the last PIIAC Monitoring Report have been instituted. These include: having timeliness goals for all phases of the investigative process, capping the number of cases assigned to each investigator at any given time, and maintaining logs of cases in progress. Captain Smith has aggressively attacked the backlog problem by making prompt decisions about which cases should be investigated, which should be delegated to precinct commanders for inquiry, and which should be declined. His high expectations coupled with effective management and support of staff training has visibly boosted the morale and professionalism of the IAD staff. This is reflected in the efficiency and quality of investigations. In addition Captain Smith has applied for and obtained a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) grant for a non-sworn staff member to assist in administration of tasks and with the intake process.
Despite Captain Smith's aggressive management of backlogged cases, he estimates that the average investigation time from intake through completion is thirteen months. The number of IAD complaints remains steady, averaging 340 complaints per year ( 359 complaints in 1997, 339 in 1998, and 322 in 1999.)
Timeliness is a critical factor in building community trust in the efficacy and integrity of police internal investigations. Lack of timeliness of IAD investigations is a chronic problem and continues to be one of PIIAC's major concerns.
There are currently five sergeants and one captain on the IAD staff. To move toward a suggested formula of 1 investigator per 100 police officers, with adequate supervisory staff, PIIAC strongly recommends that a minimum of three additional sergeants and one lieutenant be assigned to IAD. This will lead to a reduction in the length of investigative time and improve the overall quality of investigations. It will be a major step toward enhancing the Police Bureau's image of accountability to the community.
IV. Communication Training
During 1999 PIIAC advisors reviewed an appeal with overtones similar to a 1998 appeal. Both involved traffic stops that escalated to confrontations in which citizens were perceived as not following instructions and were handcuffed and detained until their identities could be verified. In each case, officers testified that they had instructed the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel or to keep their hands in sight but encountered some difficulty with respect to identification. In the earlier case, the driver complained that he was given conflicting orders to produce his identification and keep his hands on the wheel. In the more recent case, the officer testified that he instructed the driver to keep his hands in sight, then asked, "Where is your wallet?" He assumed that the driver would just answer the question, not reach for his wallet. When the motorist responded by reaching for the wallet, the officer perceived this as a failure to comply and a possible threat.
Two complaints do not constitute a trend or pattern. However, the PIIAC advisors brought this to Captain Smith’s attention as a training issue. Officers need to be sensitive to the natural anxiety felt by some citizens during traffic stops. In such situations a person may hear and respond to instructions on the most elementary level. If an officer tells someone to keep his hands on the wheel and follows up by asking "Where is your wallet?", the citizen’s natural response may be to immediately reach for his wallet. Both officers, in their IAD interviews, indicated that they thought the citizens were being deliberately uncooperative. One of the officers stated that his commands were slow, clear, and repetitive. However, the officer’s command and subsequent question were confusing to the citizen. If the officer simply wants the driver to tell him where his wallet is without reaching for it, he should clearly state this as an explanation rather than as a command.
In response to problems noted in PIIAC cases, Captain Smith has initiated several changes. He reports that one hour of communication training has been included in the forty hours of In-Service training provided to all officers. This training includes a spectrum of communication situations, including traffic stops. This training is also provided to all new recruits in the Advanced Academy. Captain Smith has invited PIIAC advisors to view these training materials if they so desire. In addition to the communication training for officers, all supervisors and command personnel have received two hours of training in IAD and communication issues.
The PIIAC Monitoring Subcommittee will look into ways to work with the Police Bureau and DMV to develop bilingual materials such as pamphlets or public service announcements to advise motorists how to act during a traffic stop to minimize potential problems. The PIIAC Citizen Advisory Committee urges the City Council to make resources available to produce and disseminate these educational materials.
V. Profanity
(Refer to summary of PIIAC Case #99-16 on page 5.) On July 12, 1999, the General Order 310.40 regarding Courtesy was revised to state in part that "no member shall use profanity in the performance of their duties except where necessary to establish control or to quote another person in police reports or in testimony." PIIAC's concerned is that this General Order may be used to justify an officer’s use of profanity when profanity is neither called for or advisable. There has been a steady stream of PIIAC appeals in which citizens have alleged that police officers have used profane or insulting language in an inflammatory manner that only tended to exacerbate an already volatile situation. PIIAC recommends that the General Order 310.40 on Courtesy be re-examined in relation to the use of profanity. As currently written, this General Order appears to give officers an open-ended justification for using profanity and insults in any situation in which they can state that they were trying to establish control, which could arguably extend to any police action.
VI. Disparate Treatment
Although PIIAC has seen only a handful of cases in the past year in which disparate treatment was specifically alleged, and none of these have been proven or founded, the question of disparate treatment based on race has been brought up in several PIIAC hearings over the past few months. Most of these have involved African Americans. IAD Statistics for 1998 and 1999 show that over 25 percent of all complaints have been from African Americans.
Captain Smith reports that an eight-hour block of diversity training is provided for all new recruits at the Advanced Academy level. In addition, cultural awareness training is blended into the segment on community policing and the forty hours of Spanish language training in the Advanced Academy.
Given the insidious and damaging consequences of even the appearance of disparate treatment, PIIAC recommends that in addition to the diversity training provided in the Advanced Academy that the Police Bureau regularly cycle a refresher course of diversity training in the In-Service training for all officers.
Summary of PIIAC Recommendations
  1. To improve the timeliness of investigations and to move closer toward a suggested formula of 10 investigators per 1000 police officers, with adequate supervisory staff, PIIAC strongly recommends that a minimum of three additional sergeants and one lieutenant be assigned to IAD.
  2. PIIAC recommends that the General Order 310.40 on Courtesy be re-examined in relation to the use of profanity.
  3. PIIAC recommends that in addition to the diversity training provided in the Advanced Academy that the Police Bureau regularly cycle a refresher course of diversity training in the In-Service training for all officers.
  4. PIIAC recommends that the IAD complaint forms and brochures be provided in the Hmong and Mien languages in addition to the languages in which they are currently available.
Addendum to the Monitoring Report
(Submitted by Citizen Advisor Shirley Karl)
Communication involves much more than speech. Words account for only 7% of a message; 38% is communicated by tone of voice; 55% is transmitted by non-verbal behavior.* In a multicultural, multiethnic society such as ours, a brief encounter can easily be misunderstood. Nonverbal behavior can be interpreted differently from one group to another. For example, some cultures value very highly the initial approach, gestures, movements, and statements. The members of these cultures are accustomed to making judgments based on these very important initial interactions. The usual contact between an officer and a citizen is relatively brief. Therefore, it is essential in our diverse society that each person understand the other clearly and accurately.
*Experience the Best by Dr. Steve Stephens; Publ: Vision House 1995
1. Force: An allegation of excessive or inappropriate physical or deadly physical force. This includes, but is not limited to, all instances where there is an actual injury or an impact weapon was used.
2. Control Techniques: An allegation that a "control technique" was used unreasonably or improperly. This would include control holds, hobble, "takedowns," and handcuffing. Temporary discomfort, skin discoloration or marks, or temporary pain are considered normal consequences of the use of a control technique.
3. Conduct: An allegation that tends to bring reproach or discredit upon the Bureau or City of Portland. It involves behavior by a Bureau member that is unprofessional, unjustified, beyond the scope of their authority, or unsatisfactory work performance. Typically this would include violation of the Bureau's Standard of Conduct, Conform to Laws, Unsatisfactory Performance, Truthfulness, etc
4. Disparate Treatment: Allegations of specific actions or statements that indicate inappropriate treatment of an individual that is different from the treatment of another, because of :
(a) Race.
(b) Other: sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, economic status, political or religious beliefs, appearance, handicap, etc.
5. Courtesy: Allegations relating to attitude and rude or discourteous conduct other than disparate treatment.
6. Procedure: Allegations that an administrative or procedural requirement was not met. This normally would include G.O.s such as the identification, report writing, notebook entries, and property/evidence handling.
1. Unfounded: Claim is false. Based on the facts of the investigation, there is no basis to the allegation.
2. Exonerated: Actions of the officer were within the guidelines of Bureau policy and procedure.
3. Insufficient Evidence: There was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation(s).
4. Sustained: Officer found to be in violation of Bureau policy or procedure.
5. Declined: Police Bureau declines to conduct full investigation.
6. Suspended: Investigation is suspended, usually because complainant fails to provide key information.