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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Portland Cops Show Off "Action Item Matrix" for Curbing Police Abuse

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM

The city has been hammering away, in the last two days, at news surrounding Portland's 2012 settlement with the US Department of Justice over police use of force.

Yesterday, Mayor Charlie Hales' office announced a tentative agreement with the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition on the settlement, though it would not comment on the terms. And just a moment ago, the Portland Police Bureau announced it's been going ahead with DOJ mandated reforms, offering up an 80-item "Action Item Matrix" [PDF] highlighting those efforts.

"We have made significant progress on more than 50 percent of the reforms over the last several months," Police Chief Mike Reese said in the release. "We are pleased with our progress and want to let the community know where we are at in terms of some of these changes."

Among the changes the PPB says it's implemented: ensuring excessive use of force investigations "result in findings," and "expressly" prohibiting retaliation. A primary sticking point—the only DOJ requirement the city hasn't begun to pursue—involves modifying when officers need to speak with internal investigators, who are brought in for officer-involved shootings and other serious incidents. The current standard gives officers 48 hours before they have to give a statement.

None of the changes, the department makes clear, will be considered complete until formally approved by City Council and the DOJ.

The city and feds reached a settlement in November, after a DOJ investigation found a pattern of excessive use of force aimed at mentally ill individuals. The agreement is still mired in federal court, however, because of objections raised by the city's main police union, the Portland Police Association (PPA). The union has concerns, among other things, that provisions in the settlement could make officers less safe.

The PPA put out a release about the settlement yesterday as well, saying it's worked as hard as possible to hammer out an agreement with the city, to no avail.

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