December 17, 2013
Dear City Council:
The Human Rights Commission (“HRC”) supports the efforts of the Independent Police Review (“IPR”) to strengthen the oversight system of the Portland Police Bureau (“PPB”) and the discussions regarding code changes scheduled for December 18th.
The HRC understands that during the upcoming fairness hearing with District Court Judge Michael Simon, members of the public will be invited to weigh in on the Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) between the City and the Department of Justice, and that this hearing will include options for participation that amplify accessibility for community members.
Considering the crucial role that the IPR system plays in the Agreement, as well as the important need to maximize community participation in this process, we recommend that voting on any IPR code changes be postponed until after the fairness hearing.
To help address community concerns related to unnecessary use of force as well as tensions that exist between the PPB and Portlanders, we believe the community should play a central role in both developing and managing community oversight systems. Postponing the vote until after the fairness hearing would be a positive step in that direction.
Chair, Portland Human Rights Commission