The city council tried to push through a set of intergovernmental agreements between the city and TriMet, to continue to allow officers from other agencies--the Hillsboro or Milwaukie police department, for example--to patrol MAX. But members of the IPR's Citizens Review Board have big concerns about this legislation, because it continues the status quo--currently, as Matt Davis has reported, "those officers are subject to a lower standard of oversight than regular Portland cops. If a fellow Portland cop had witnessed [a] fight, for example, they would have been compelled to testify to Portland Police Bureau's internal affairs detectives." Officers from other jurisdictions aren't compelled to testify in Portland police complaint investigations.
The CRC successfully lobbied the council to pull the four items from the consent agenda, and now it's under discussion.
"We would ask that the intergovernmental agreements be renegotiated," to compel officers from other jurisdictions to give testimony, CRC chair Mike Bigham says.
Mayor Tom Potter says the issue is "much larger than that," and he's concerned that the CRCs concerns would apply to agreements with the state police, for example. "We probably should look at all of them, and all of these agencies have multiple agreements [with] the City of Portland."
"This issue that we're dealing with strictly deals with officers who are assigned to patrol the city of Portland's transportation system," says the CRC's Hank Miggins, who notes that he hasn't dug into agreements with other agencies.
The council is also wondering if there are collective bargaining issues, or whether the police bureau is aware of the CRCs concerns. "We addressed this issue through the Police Bureau, and they did a great job trying to help us solve this issue, and we wanted to bring this to the city council," for resolution, Miggins says.
Now Vince Jarmer of the Transit Police Division is up: He says that other agencies "don't have the same comprehensive overview of how these protections are maintained." Translation: The Portland Police Bureau has stronger oversight of their officers, and applying those to other agencies might be tricky.
"We do have more cooperation than less cooperation, if that makes any sense, with our outside agency officers," Jarmer says, noting that in past investigations, officers from other agencies have testified. "When we're selecting outside agency officers, someone from my command staff is personally involved in the selection process... so we can have the input into the kind of person that we're going to be getting."
More after the cut...
"What I'm hearing is that to unilaterally amend these agreements, would cause some issues," Commissioner Dan Saltzman says.
Commissioner Randy Leonard and Potter have an idea: Require that the other agencies we contract with have their own complaint process, and a citizen with a complaint can go through that process.
"We want to be assured that they have a process," Leonard says.
"What we're saying is they would initiate one at the same time we initiate an investigation," Potter says.
"If you're not satisfied with what happened," in that other jurisdiction's investigation, Commissioner Nick Fish asks, are there further steps a complainant could take in Portland? It doesn't sound like it, from what Leonard and Potter are saying.
Potter's fine with "leaving it up to them to determine how to handle it," because ordering other jurisdictions to do something a certain way could be messy. "This seems like a cleaner way to do it."
"Does that sound like a good approach?" Leonard asks Jarmer.
"It sounds like an approach," Jarmer responds flatly.
This "solution" doesn't seem like it's dealing with the problem the CRC is bringing up: What about when a Portland officer is the subject of a complaint, and a Milwaukie officer is a witness—would that Milwaukie officer be compelled to testify in the investigation of the Portland officer?
"We'll get a group together," to examine the agreements and "amend them to that degree," Potter says. Do the agreements expire soon and need to be approved now? The Hillsboro one doesn't currently exist, Jarmer says, but they're already working with Hillsboro officers (!?!?), and the other three don't expire until 2010--what's in front of the council is amendments to those agreements. .
The council opted to unanimously approve the four agreements for now and will then amend them further.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!