PPB Provides Further Context for PPB Actions with West Linn PD

Portland Police Badge
Portland Police Badge

February 13, 2020 18:03


There has been significant public concern regarding an investigation led by West Linn Police Department officials into Mr. Michael Fesser that resulted in a civil settlement to Mr. Fesser as a result of allegations of misconduct by members of the West Linn Police Department. While the City of Portland was not party to the lawsuit resulting in the settlement, Portland Police Bureau and City resources were used in effecting the arrest of Mr. Fesser.

This release is designed to directly describe what is currently known about PPB's involvement and how PPB's interactions with other jurisdictions generally work. Here is some key context based on the information known at this time:

* West Linn PD Detective Poitras contacted a PPB Sergeant and requested assistance with an arrest of Mr. Fesser. West Linn Detective Poitras relayed he had probable cause to arrest Mr. Fesser for a felony crime. Mr. Fesser worked in Portland.

* On February 25, 2017, Portland Police Bureau members assisted with the arrest, then transported Mr. Fesser to East Precinct where he was interviewed by the West Linn Detective. The Officers then transported Mr. Fesser to the Multnomah County Detention Center,

* In Oregon, it is legally permissible and common practice for officers from one agency to arrest a criminal suspect based on a request from and representation by an officer from another agency that there is probable cause for arrest. For example, if an officer from another jurisdiction contacts a PPB officer and represents they have probable cause to arrest a subject for domestic violence and they believe the person is in our jurisdiction, the PPB officer will assist and attempt to locate the individual and make an arrest based upon the other officer's representation that there is probable cause for the arrest,

* Probable cause means an officer has information to believe a person more likely than not committed a criminal offense,

* Officers in the State of Oregon swear an oath, which includes being truthful and upholding the laws. Officers rely upon what other officers tell them to be truthful and ethical, such as when probable cause is relayed. There are processes in place internally and externally to discipline, terminate and/or decertify sworn members who are untruthful,

* On November 10, 2017, a West Linn Lieutenant contacted a Portland Police Officer regarding an on-going West Linn investigation and represented that there were safety concerns about Mr. Fesser, who had an outstanding felony warrant from Multnomah County related to their investigation. The PPB officer wrote a report to create a vCAD flag for the address identified by West Linn as the victim's address. Flagging an address as a "hazard" in the dispatch system is a common practice across all disciplines who partner with dispatch,

* vCAD flags are "hazard flags" in the internal dispatch system. They are used by many law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services providers and dispatch to share critical information. Examples of critical hazard information could include premise access information, or any officer safety information that will affect the way in which a call is dispatched or any information that will alert the call taker at the Bureau of Emergency Communications to be aware of known issues at an address. Another example could be dangerous and/or known armed subjects at a location,

* For further information about Hazard Address flags, PPB has posted the internal Standard Operating Procedure for the public at this link: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/753793

* The Portland Police Bureau Internal Affairs investigation will be looking into the actions of the Portland Police Bureau members to determine if any policies or laws were violated,

* The Clackamas County District Attorney's Office has announced they will be conducting an investigation into the actions of the involved West Linn PD officers,

* Ethical behavior is a critical tenant of public safety officials. When one or more individuals engage in what is perceived to be inappropriate behavior, it impacts the entire profession. PPB continues to screen thoroughly and train members with the expectation that they uphold the oath they swore. The accountability system is in place in the event any members fall short of the expectations, laws, and rules. At this time, not all the details are available and the investigations will flesh out further facts,

* Yesterday, PPB released to the public the reports identified as being related to these circumstances. It was brought to our attention that one of those documents had not been released to the attorney of the subject involved in this case before pursuant to a subpoena. PPB strives to accurately fulfill and respond to all subpoena and public records requests and we regret this inadvertent error. We have reached out to the involved party to acknowledge the error,

* Questions have come up about whether or not the involved officers will be placed on administrative leave and what their duty status is. The involved officers will not be placed on leave at this time. The Directive that covers Leaves of Service is located at this link: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/541459 Per City HRAR 5.01 (under the administrative leave section), the current situation does not warrant administrative leave. This policy can be found here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/article/11983



PPB Releases Report Related to Outside Agency Civil Settlement

On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, the Portland Police Bureau publicly released two reports related to a recent civil settlement with the City of West Linn and an outside party. The Portland Police Bureau's involvement on February 25, 2017, consisted of a traffic stop and arrest of the involved subject at the request of a West Linn Police Department Detective based upon probable cause for his investigation.

Additionally, a police report connected to the West Linn Police Department's investigation was written on November 10, 2017, by a Portland Police Officer in order to request a "vcad" flag. "Vcad" is a reference to the computer-aided dispatch system used by dispatch and the Police Bureau. The flag is a safety indicator that gets entered into the dispatch system so when a call is generated involving the listed locations or parties, there is information provided to the dispatcher that can be relayed to a responding officer for situational awareness. Refer to the report for details.

The reports can be located here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/753671

"Assisting other agencies with arrests within our jurisdiction is a routine part of police work," said Chief Jami Resch. "In an effort to be transparent, I have authorized the public release of the report detailing the involvement of PPB officers. We recognize that a lot of questions have been generated as a result of this case and we want the public to have this information to consider. Additionally, I have asked our Professional Standards Division to look into our involvement, as is our practice when there are civil lawsuits."



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