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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mayor's Office Agrees with Mercury: Police Chief Should Keep Tracking Discipline Data

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Hall Monitor this week was essentially a poke at Police Chief Mike Reese, who hasn't decided yet whether he'll update a document we found very useful when we got our hands on it earlier this year: a matrix comparing discipline recommendations by the bureau's Police Review Board against whatever discipline, if any, the chief actually metes out.

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The column explained why that's crucial information to have:

The PRB is an important step in misconduct and use-of-force probes. I asked for that matrix after an Oregonian story that Reese merely demoted a police captain, Todd Wyatt, whom the review board wanted to fire over charges including dishonesty and harassment. It led to reporting that Reese saved the jobs of two other cops targeted for dismissal because of lying.

The story also revealed that Reese pretty regularly freelances his own discipline, including taking it easy on controversial cop Kyle Nice (one of the cops in the beating death of James Chasse Jr.). The review board wanted to give Nice one to two weeks of suspension, plus anger management sessions, after a road rage incident where Nice pulled his gun. Reese gave him a letter of reprimand.

That matrix—created only because Mayor Charlie Hales' office asked—was good only through January. When the next batch of review board reports came out in July, it seemed only natural to ask for an update. At first, the bureau said it wouldn't do that. It never planned to do it. But then it said it would ask Reese. And I've been waiting for an answer ever since.

But now, this afternoon, something came along that might goose Reese into making a decision—presumably to produce an updated matrix. Hales' office, contacted by the Mercury, firmly agreed that the chief should keep on producing the data because, says Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes, Hales and his staff find it "useful." Haynes says the mayor hasn't asked the chief to update the data yet but will "likely" do so.

“The mayor believes timely, consistent discipline is a key part of public administration, and is important to strengthening police credibility," Hales' chief of staff, Gail Shibley, said in a statement. "A matrix can be a helpful tool for police supervisors and managers in this regard, so the mayor will continue to work with police leadership to refine and use this or similar tools.”

Interestingly, as my column also pointed out, the city's Independent Police Review director is looking to enshrine the release of this kind of data in city code. But that won't happen until later this year at the earliest, as part of other changes held up by the delay in the feds' civil rights case against the police. So why wait when clearly the cops can put that data out right now?

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