We've had a relatively busy week for police oversight issues in Portland. But, before we proceed, let's go over the important acronyms for this post (and make sure to stick around for the videos at the end).
*The Citizen Review Committee (CRC) is volunteer offshoot group of the auditor's Independent Police Review. Among other duties, they hear appeals from civilians who are unhappy with how the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) handled their complaint against members of the bureau, and then vote on whether the bureau's findings could have been made by a "reasonable person," regardless of if they actually agree with what happened. If a majority sides with the bureau's findings, the complaint process is done. If they challenge the PPB's findings, they issue a report to the police chief, who can accept their recommendation or take it to city council.
*The Independent Police Review (IPR) is run through city auditor Mary Hull Cabellero's office and "provides impartial oversight of police conduct, practices, and policies to increase accountability and public trust." The IPR oversees the CRC.
*The Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) is completely separate from the CRC and IPR. They're a volunteer citizen group that helps ensure the Portland Police Bureau is following the Portland Police Bureau's relatively recent settlement with the United States Department of Justice.
Ok, now let's get to it.
UPDATE #1: The Portland Police Bureau and CRC used the wrong set of rules to clear an officer who tased a mentally ill man.
We reported last week that the CRC sided with the PPB and against a man who complained that a sergeant unfairly roughed him up and an officer unfairly tased him as he was taken into custody in 2014. At the meeting there was a lot of confusion about which police policy the bureau used to clear the officer who tased him. Here's what we wrote:
The chaos and contentiousness seen at the last two CRC meetings—marred by a water attack on a CRC member who sided with police and then a police boycott two weeks ago—was replaced with confusion about procedures for the meeting and which departmental taser rule applied to Klug's case.
Klug stated that the police directive in place at the time of the incident for using a Taser was updated more recently than the policy the bureau and the CRC used to clear the officer, citing a December 2013 Mercury story that included new updates in the bureau's use-of-force policy. The PPB and CRC used rules that were outdated at the time of the incident, Klug repeatedly told them, to no avail.
"I can say for sure they were using the wrong directive," Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch told the Mercury, though it's unclear if the outcome of the complaint would have changed, he said.
Klug and Handelman are correct, it turns out. The police, and therefor the CRC, used outdated polices to clear the officer who tased Klug, and he will have another shot at an appeal. Klug got an email last Friday evening from assistant IPR director Anika Bent-Albert stating:
As you know, on May 4, 2016, the Committee conducted an Appeal Hearing of your case. Correspondence dated May 5, 2016 from our office was sent to notify you of the Committee’s post appeal recommendations. Please disregard that correspondence as we have been informed by the Portland Police Bureau that the incorrect directive was used specific to allegation #2 of the investigation. Police Bureau Internal Affairs will be sending the investigative case file back for the findings process for review of allegation #2.
"For findings to be valid," IPR Director Constantin Severe explained today, "it has to be based on the correct directive applicable at the time."
The new appeal hearing will be scheduled shortly.
UPDATE #2: Next Wednesday's Citizen Review Committee meeting is cancelled.
The Citizen Review Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 is cancelled. Unlike recent cancellations, which we've detailed extensively, this one appears not very innocuous. There are questions about whether enough CRC members will be able to make it.
"For us to do anything and have any validity, there needs to be a quorum," said Severe about the minimum number of CRC members needed to make valid decisions, which is five. "And there's an issue of whether there would be a quorum for next week's meeting."
The complaint appeal they were scheduled to hear has been pushed back to June 1 (after it was already pushed back after the April 6 meeting was cancelled following the March 30 water attack). A case file review has been pushed back to late June, Severe said.
UPDATE #3: Thursday night's COAB meeting ended early after an angry tirade from an activist, and interruption by another.
Deep into an otherwise unremarkable bi-weekly COAB meeting Thursday night, local activist Kif Davis—a mainstay at most public meetings in Portland—went up to microphone during a public comment period and launched into a profanity-laced tirade against COAB member Bud Feuless. Davis accused Fueless of calling him a white supremacist online. Here's video I took of the altercation on my phone:
Davis was booted from the meeting. Fueless and a few other COAB members left because they didn't feel safe.
After some breaks following the hoopla, COAB chair Kathleen Saadat tried the get the meeting going again, but another local activist, Charles Johnson, went up to the microphone and interrupted the committee (you may remember Johnson as the activist who tossed a glass of water on a CRC member who sided with police during the chaotic March 30 CRC meeting). Saadat made the call to end the meeting for the night after this (there was an hourlong training session for COAB members scheduled). Check the shaky video I took: