Tomorrow's long-awaited city council vote on a "compliance officer/community liaison" to oversee federal police reform in Portland may not be a quiet, conflict-free affair.

Two venerable police accountability groups—Portland Copwatch and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform—have issued statements grumbling over the likely coronation of a Chicago-based team of academics that'll be fronted, locally, by retired Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz.

Both groups are noting that a citizen panel charged with vetting finalists for the job initially discounted the Chicago application, led by University of Illinois-Chicago professor Dennis Rosenbaum, in part because it wasn't clear how intensely De Muniz would be working in Portland.

And they're equating support for Rosenbaum from Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Charlie Hales—in defiance of that panel's recommendations—with the council's decision last month to defy several community groups in appealing a federal judge's order that the city, as it implements its reform deal with the US Department of Justice, return to court annually to show its work.

The AMA's co-chairs, Doctor LeRoy Haynes and Dr. T. Allen Bethel, wrote that the AMA "seriously questions" the city's "resolve" in implementing reforms and are calling on the council to reject Rosenbaum.

But the spirit of the Agreement is that, as Commissioner Fritz stated on October 22, the community should have the final say in whether the police reforms are completed in a meaningful way. That's why it comes as a surprise at the end of this very long process to engage the community that the Council then decides to turn around and do the opposite of what was recommended. The main concern of the interviewers was having a COCL who has a sensibility to the day-to-day operations, so they did not even forward on Dennis Rosenbaum to the Council for consideration. The publicly posted comments from the interview sessions reflect this consensus.

So here we are just a little more than two months into the formal implementation of the Agreement and the City has already taken the stand that the community's input is not important, in contrast to the Portland way of having community input to shape the decision making of the Council. Even though the upcoming process to seat the Community Oversight Advisory Board will rely partly on the community, we urge Council to rethink its position on both the appeal and the COCL decisions.

Dan Handelman of Copwatch makes some of the same points about the work of the selection panel. Fritz has told the Mercury that she felt comfortable choosing Rosenbaum after meeting with De Muniz and pressing him on his ability to spend time in Portland. De Muniz wasn't able to attend the hearing in front of the selection panel, held in late September, Fritz said. It's possible, if he did, that might have changed some panelists' minds.

But Handelman still isn't convinced De Muniz, who works in Salem, will spend enough time in Portland to do all the things required by the city's settlement with the feds, mean to answer findings that Portland cops engage in a pattern or practice of using excessive force against people with mental illness. Handelman's also done some digging with sources in Chicago, he says—and hasn't heard Rosenbaum's name mentioned much in police accountability circles.

We're hearing information about Dennis Rosenbaum from Chicago that makes us concerned he is more interested in his relationship with the police than with accountability. People involved in police accountability issues there hardly even recognize his name.

While Justice DeMuniz is promising to be the local connection for the Chicago team, he teaches in Salem and will not be the overall collector of information and assessor of implementation envisioned by the Agreement. It's been reported that he intends to work as the emissary for the COCL team one day per week, which means he will likely not be able to attend meetings of advisory groups other than the COAB, look over the shoulder of the Portland Police as they compile information required for COCL reports, hold office hours for community outreach, or conduct a thorough assessment of whether the DOJ Agreement is being implemented properly.

Tomorrow's vote is nestled near the bottom of a packed city council agenda. And this is worth noting: Saying yes tomorrow doesn't mean Rosenbaum would start immediately. All the vote does is formally start the clock on contract talks with Rosenbaum and his team—and those terms, conceivably, could be crafted to address some of what Rosenbaum's critics have seized on.

Read the full Copwatch and AMA statements after the jump.

On October 29 when Council was taking public comment on the three finalists for the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison, I was present in the chambers but opted not to testify. In addition to the fact that we'd already sent in written comments, I avoided speaking directly to a subject related to the DOJ Agreement because you all had, just one week earlier, voted to appeal Judge Simon's order to appear for annual hearings. It seemed to me that there only being three people testifying about the COCL was a louder message than I could have sent: that Council's action to appeal the order was seen as a slap in the face to the community and so a lot of interest in the process that had accumulated was dashed by your vote.

But instead, Council seems to have gotten the message that since nobody spoke up to oppose the idea of an out-of-town COCL (though it's my recollection that one of the testifiers did write off Mr. Rosenbaum for that reason), it would be ok to ignore the hand-picked committee which advised the Council not to consider the team from Chicago. Our October 15 written testimony was neutral, but once the comments from the interview panel were posted and we did some digging, we now tend to agree with those interviewers.

We're hearing information about Dennis Rosenbaum from Chicago that makes us concerned he is more interested in his relationship with the police than with accountability. People involved in police accountability issues there hardly even recognize his name.

While Justice DeMuniz is promising to be the local connection for the Chicago team, he teaches in Salem and will not be the overall collector of information and assessor of implementation envisioned by the Agreement. It's been reported that he intends to work as the emissary for the COCL team one day per week, which means he will likely not be able to attend meetings of advisory groups other than the COAB, look over the shoulder of the Portland Police as they compile information required for COCL reports, hold office hours for community outreach, or conduct a thorough assessment of whether the DOJ Agreement is being implemented properly.

After City Council voted to appeal Judge Simon's order, you now have announced your intention to choose the one COCL candidate the community said should be out of the running. If you want to send the message that you just don't care, then say it straight and stop pretending you do.

The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform now seriously questions the City's resolve to implement the DOJ Agreement to reduce Portland Police Use of Force. Just two weeks after defying the unanimous voices of community members who urged you not to file an appeal of Judge Simon's annual hearings, Council announced that it would, despite the advice of your appointed citizen advisory committee, choose the one applicant for the Compliance Officer position that advisory committee rejected.

The Coalition was part of the COCL selection process from early on, when the Request for Proposal was drawn up in January and February this year, as the incoming applications were screened and narrowed, and at the public presentations and interviews with the finalists. The Agreement called for such a process and it is true that the City followed the letter of the Agreement.

But the spirit of the Agreement is that, as Commissioner Fritz stated on October 22, the community should have the final say in whether the police reforms are completed in a meaningful way. That's why it comes as a surprise at the end of this very long process to engage the community that the Council then decides to turn around and do the opposite of what was recommended. The main concern of the interviewers was having a COCL who has a sensibility to the day-to-day operations, so they did not even forward on Dennis Rosenbaum to the Council for consideration. The publicly posted comments from the interview sessions reflect this consensus.

So here we are just a little more than two months into the formal implementation of the Agreement and the City has already taken the stand that the community's input is not important, in contrast to the Portland way of having community input to shape the decision making of the Council. Even though the upcoming process to seat the Community Oversight Advisory Board will rely partly on the community, we urge Council to rethink its position on both the appeal and the COCL decisions.

We signed a Collaborative Agreement with the City in which we pledged to oppose any efforts to weaken the Settlement Agreement. We're seeing these actions as a sign of such efforts.

Of course, whatever your decision is we will keep fighting for justice and police reform. It will just be a lot easier if we are working together to achieve those goals rather than needing to argue with the City at every turn.