Only two of three candidates still vying for the job of making sure the Portland Police Bureau complies with a court-approved package of reforms—aimed at reducing officers' use of force against people with mental illness—have notably deep expertise with mental health policy or training, the Mercury has learned after obtaining and reviewing copies of their applications.
And while all three men who've applied to serve as the city's new "compliance officer/community liaison," or (COCL), appear familiar with police issues in general, none would be particularly high-profile and come with the kind of gravity that might help an independent monitor stand up to city hall and police leadership, if that kind of tough stance ever was needed.
In addition, they're also somewhat familiar faces for police brass—having either written letters praising officers, or having previously run surveys from the bureau or taken the city's money to do consulting work.
The city is expected to officially release the list any day—ahead of a planned session, later this month, by a selection committee that may yet decide to reopen the hiring process in hopes of attracting more applicants. Some mental health advocates are rooting for precisely that outcome—making clear they never had much faith in what was a notably small list of initial applicants. The city didn't expect to whittle the list down to three names quite this quickly—but had its hands tied in part because so few serious applications were received.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, briefly reached for comment this morning, said she hadn't seen the list herself yet and couldn't confirm the names. But sources familiar with the selection process say these are the only three people left. So consider this a sneak preview.
• Daniel Ward, executive director of the Oregon Drug and Alcohol Policy Commission, (pdf)
Ward, who has studied psychology, has led this commission, which advises both the governor's office and Oregon Legislature, only since last year. He last worked for a Denver-area nonprofit that worked with police agencies on mental health issues. In 2002-2003, he ran Cowlitz County's human services department.
Earlier this year, before he submitted his application, he wrote a letter to the city praising two Portland officers' handling of a mental health call downtown. The letter, as reported by the Oregonian, was read aloud by Mayor Charlie Hales at a Gang Violence Task Force meeting—and eventually earned the two cops Starbucks gift cards, courtesy of Hales.
Ward has confirmed he's one of the three finalists.
• Dennis Rosenbaum, executive director of the National Police Research Platform and a professor of criminology and psychology at the University of Illinois-Chicago, (pdf)
Rosenbaum is known in national academic and police circles for his work helping police agencies across the county survey people in crashes, traffic stops, or who call police on how they think they're being treated by officers. Portland, as was reported last fall, was one of those cities. When reporting on the local survey, we noted that results from a similar survey in Chicago, according to Rosenbaum, confirmed a "silent majority" of respondents thought favorably of officers.
Rosenbaum's also worked on minority-police relations in Chicago and says he's been invited to apply for monitoring jobs in other cities. He would bring along a team of three academics familiar with community policing, mental health, and justice issues. One of those scholars has worked with police agencies on crisis and mental health training and is working on a research project on crisis intervention training.
• John Campbell, Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc., (pdf)
Campbell is a facilitator and consultant who's done some work on police issues over the years. He lists his job as providing research, training, facilitation, and planning for the purpose of public safety problem-solving, community-oriented policing, and the goal of more effective law enforcement results."
But this appears to be one of the most relevant items in his application: He was chosen, in 2010, to run then-Commissioner Randy Leonard's Police Oversight Stakeholder Committee. That group—pulling in IPR, police, the police union, and accountability advocates—brainstormed ideas for further strengthening police oversight changes approved by the council, amid some controversy, in the summer of 2010. But with those changes in place, there was little political will to push harder. And the stakeholder report languished for months until it was tepidly accepted by the council in 2011. Some of the easily agreed-upon refinements waited for this year, under code changes pushed as part of federal reforms.
Campbell's also worked for a couple of other police bureau initiatives: He's helped shape the scope of the bureau's Service Coordination Team, which officials love but which also relied on secret lists to find the frequent offenders who fit its criteria for counseling and treatment. Campbell, in 2011, also facilitated the bureau's Business Optimization Task Force. And he's taught cops on landlord-tenant relations.
He counts among his strategic advisers the former director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (aka COPS) under Bill Clinton, Joe Brann. Brann, Campbell says, is a suburban former police chief who's been a reform monitor or helped reform monitors, in several other cities.
Answering a question on his mental health experience, Campbell writes, "Some, but we are not experts and would likely bring in advisory team members."