NOT BETTER ENOUGH Last year's most defining moment for the Portland police came on May 5, in the middle of the night. At that time, on the N. Skidmore overpass, Kendra James and her boyfriend were pulled over for running a stop sign. When the police pulled her boyfriend from the car, James allegedly tried to speed away from the scene. A rookie officer tried to stop her with a stun gun. When that failed, he shot her in the back.

In the wake of the shooting, two separate committees were formed; each intended to provide recommendations to prevent such future deaths. Coincidentally, an L.A.-based organization, Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), issued a similar report a few weeks later.

Last Wednesday, the Community Police Organizational Review Team (CPORT) concluded its study and provided a list of suggestions for reforming the police handling of shootings. Joined by a series of recommendations from a civilian-based committee, the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA), chief Derrick Foxworth has been left awash in reports. Foxworth has promised to sort through all three reports and set forward new policies by early spring.

Perhaps one of the biggest steps taken so far by Foxworth was to include recommendations from the community-based AMA, and not just the police-sanctioned committees. But in spite of some forward progress towards a safer and more accountable police force, there are still several troubling issues. The three reports regarding police shootings provide many forceful and commonsense suggestions. But they are knee-jerk reactions to several unfortunate incidents of the past.

Where are the committees and policy recommendations that are trying to foresee future tragedies? Why isn't there a report on how the police handle demonstrations? Although police have seemed to softened slightly their approach to protesters over the past year, there still were dozens of troubling arrests for nothing more than jaywalking, as well as heavy-handed tactics by high-ranking officers like Sgt. Mark Kruger. Are the police waiting until Sgt. Kruger severely injures a protester?

The lamentable part about the current reports is that the PARC report concerns police shootings pre-dating the Kendra James' case by three years. Had the police adopted the protocol suggested by PARC, it is plausible that James would still be alive. PHIL BUSSE