Council Reacts to Citizen Feedback on Police Oversight Proposals

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Thu, 08/10/2017 - 5:15pm to 5:30pm

On Wednesday, August 9, the Portland City Council reconsidered three police oversight proposals that prompted a long and angry public hearing last Thursday. Council uncharacteristically took a lot of that testimony into consideration in the intervening week:

--A proposed Portland Commission for Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP), which would require changes to the settlement agreement with the US Dept. of Justice, was tabled for two weeks. Testimony last week made clear citizens' objections to the watered-down board, which would replace the settlement-mandated Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB), which has been defunct since late last year. The PCCEP would be entirely appointed by the mayor, and few of its meetings would have been public. Council is taking one week to craft amendments, and allowing one further week for public viewing of the amendments before a hearing on August 24th. Written comments are being accepted throughout the process.

--A new directive on Post Deadly-Force Procedures was retooled to be made immediately effective--it will allow officers who use deadly force to be compelled to give testimony in an administrative investigation within 48 hours of the incident. Last week's version would have waited to implement the directive until a judge gave the go-ahead. The worry is that by speaking with adminstrative investigators, the officer could "contaminate" the simultaneous criminal investigation of the same shooting. Council passed the new version yesterday, though it includes a controversial section allowing an officer to be exempt from the administrative interview if a criminal indictment looks likely (an example brought up by the City Attorney was former officer Dane Reister, who shot a man having a mental health crisis with what he thought was a beanbag round, but was actually live shotgun ammunition; oversight advocates cast doubt on that by saying the clause is overly broad and could encourage exemptions in less obvious circumstances). 

--Changes to Independent Police Review Board rules allowing them to make recommendations to the PPB after their investigations into officer misconduct were largely uncontroversial and passed yesterday.

KBOO reporter Sam Bouman was at city council and has this report.

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