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Testimony on item 633, police oversight charter change - Portland Copwatch

Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Hardesty, Commissioner Fritz and
Commissioner Eudaly:

When Portland Copwatch was founded in 1992 we set three major goals, one
of which is to promote and monitor an effective system for civilian
oversight of police. There is no question that if fully implemented, the
Charter amendment before you today would create a strong oversight
system. It would, unlike the "Independent" Police Review (IPR), have the
power to compel officers to answer questions, to investigate deadly
force cases, and to decide whether misconduct occurs and to discipline

It is likely not all of this will be able to go into effect without
changes to state law, the collective bargaining contract, and possibly
federal labor law. These hurdles are acknowledged in the severability
language in the first and last sections of the Amendment.

We hope that the Portland Police Association will not expend energy and
resources to oppose this effort, especially since PPA President
Daryl Turner said that he is willing to have conversations about
transforming the Bureau in light of the ongoing protests for justice. If
they believe in change, the PPA should support stronger oversight and
not make their public image worse by obstructing progress.

On that note, this is a good time to remind the Council that the PPA
contract needs to be changed. Among other things it must allow
independent investigations of deadly force, let someone other than the
police require an officer to answer questions in administrative
investigations, allow those sessions to take place outside of the Police
Bureau, and make it easier for disciplinary decisions to stick.

The amendment recognizes the importance of a civilian oversight board
holding public hearing. We hope this leads to implementation our
long-time proposal of moving the closed-door Police Review Board out in
the open while retaining public hearings on appeals as currently held by
the Citizen Review Committee and City Council.

Other strong elements of the Amendment include highlighting the
importance of affected communities being involved, the restriction
against current and former police being able to sit on the Board, and a
guaranteed funding level. One particular step up from how the current
system works is that if the Board makes a policy recommendation that is
not adopted, City Council can vote to implement such a policy.

We realize that this Charter amendment is just the bare bones onto which
more details will be hung in the future. We're not asking for the
Council to make changes that would slow down this process. We do want to
suggest to you that when the implementing ordinance is designed, Council
should consider what to do if any of the Board's powers, including their
ability to decide on findings of misconduct and to impose discipline,
get severed for legal reasons. It that happens, the implementing
ordinance should give Council the final say, just as the IPR/CRC
ordinance does now for appeals hearings. In New York City and
Minneapolis, their boards have made findings many times that get

This next bit is as much for the community to hear as it is for members
of Council. Because it will take some time to establish the ordinance
guiding the Board, select its members, have them hire a Director, and
have that Director hire staff, it will likely be a year or more from
now that this new Board could go into effect. We are encouraged that the
Resolution talks about how the current oversight system is "impacted by
an inadequate ability to collect evidence, interview witnesses, effect
police policies and directives, and include sufficient transparency."
This language acknowledges that the staff at the IPR and the community
volunteers on the Citizen Review Committee aren't deliberately
responsible for the low number of sustained findings and limitations on
complainants to see the investigative files, but that it's an
institutional issue. Therefore we would like to see a commitment by
Council and the Auditor to keep IPR and CRC in place and give them as
much support as possible up until the new system is ready to roll. We
think most people affected by police misconduct would agree we don't
want to revert to a system where complaints are investigated by Internal
Affairs. That system of police investigating themselves is one reason we
find ourselves with demands for change, and for Commissioner Hardesty's
proposal before you.

We also recognize that even if this is fully implemented, there's
no guarantee the system will work 100% the way people in the community
want it to, nor will it necessarily end police brutality, racism and
corruption. But it could be a piece of that transformational change.

PCW is hopeful that our years of experience in attending every
single CRC meeting and our broader knowledge base will allow us to be
part of the design team to help implement the system if it is adopted.

We understand that a lot of the calls for change are to defund and
dismantle the police. Our position at Copwatch has always been that so
long as there are police, we have to find ways to minimize the harm they
are doing to the community and hold them accountable when they do that

Thank you
dan handelman and other members of
portland copwatch

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandcopwatch.org

Oakland Marches in Solidarity with Portland's Resistance 03.Aug.2020 02:38


Oakland Marches in Solidarity with Portland's Resistance Against Feds
Oakland City Council Moves to Defund Police Department by 50% in 2021


On July 25, a group of about 2,000 people gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland to stand in solidarity with the uprising in Portland, Oregon. Foremost amongst their demands, they called for justice for Black lives stolen by police violence. In a pre-march rally, many spoke out against systemic racism, institutionalized white supremacy and the need to defund and dismantle the police. Others expressed outrage with Trump's order to send Federal agents into U.S. cities under a racist "Law and Order" pretext. Readying themselves to march, protesters raised colorfully painted body sized shields in a front line that stretched across the road. A banner approximately 20 feet long read, "Oakland to Portland, Cops and Feds, Off Our Streets."

The march was boisterous, with call and response chants and amplified music. By about ten o'clock, most marchers were back at Oscar Grant Plaza. Oakland police tweeted and corporate media glommed onto reports that some demonstrators set a fire inside the Alameda County courthouse, damaged police station windows, spray-painted graffiti, shot fireworks, and pointed lasers at officers. According to the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild's Demonstration Committee, shortly after midnight police charged the crowd for several blocks from Oakland police headquarters. Approximately four arrests were made.

Three days after the July 25 demonstration, following years of sustained pressure and recent protests, Oakland's City Council unanimously approved a resolution to create a task force to determine how to cut the police department's budget by fifty percent in 2021.