As I first reported this morning, attorneys for the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform have formally filed paperwork (PDF) asking to intervene as a defendant in the US Department of Justice's lawsuit against the Portland Police Bureau.
The civil rights group—which now joins the Portland Police Association in seeking official legal standing in the reform effort, albeit for a very different reason—is arguing the reform package, with its focus on cops' unconstitutional treatment of the mentally ill, does too little to address longstanding racial tensions between the police bureau and the community.
"The AMA is one of the better-suited organizations in town to ensure that issue is addressed," attorney J. Ashlee Albies, representing the group, told the Mercury.
Albies also told me the group wants to find out why several of the reform recommendations it submitted to federal attorneys never made it into any draft of the settlement eventually signed by the city council. AMA Chairman Dr. LeRoy Haynes Jr. pressed that case in a statement (PDF)submitted as part of the filings.
Court papers make clear that racial tension, just as much as mental health, was on the minds of the AMA when it started the call in 2010 for a federal investigation—a call picked up by Commissioner Dan Saltzman and then-Mayor Sam Adams. The settlement with the feds acknowledges racial tension but stops short of making specific recommendations to address it.
Albies' filings include traffic stop data, which the Mercury reported on last summer, as proof that the police bureau's treatment of people of color remains relevant.
Today was the deadline for groups to seek standing in the case and still be considered "timely." US District Court Judge Michael Simon, who also has promised a "fairness hearing" on the reform plan, has said he'll rule on all requests to intervene in the case next month.