Federal Judge orders Fairness Hearing on Agreement between City and Justice Department
Your comments will be heard on civil rights violations settlement
By Helen Silvis Of The Skanner News
December 21, 2012
|Members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform attended the meeting. Pictured from left: Rev. Dr. Leroy Haines and JoAnn Hardesty with Michael Rose, longtime defense attorney.|
The agreement makes sweeping changes to policing in Portland. However, the police union objects to its impact on collective bargaining. And other groups in the community, such as such as the Albina Ministerial Alliance, say community involvement is needed.
Judge Michael H. Simon said everyone who wants to testify about the agreement should be able to have their views heard. Judge Simon also said he is open to holding the hearing outside of work hours to allow more people to testify.
Groups or individuals who want to be a party with legal standing to intervene in the agreement must file a motion with the court by Jan. 8.
Comment on how the fairness hearing should be organized, should be submitted to the clerks office in the federal courthouse by Jan. 22.
The next hearing before Judge Simon is set for Feb. 19 at 9 a.m. No date has been set yet for the fairness hearing.
The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and the Portland Police Association already have stated they will seek to intervene in the settlement agreement.
The AMA coalition wants the public to weigh in on every aspect of the agreement from use of force policy, to the mental health crisis response teams that the PPB is already creating, and the job description of an independent compliance officer who will be hired to oversee the reforms.
The police union has different concerns. It asked the judge to throw out the settlement agreement saying it interferes with its collective bargaining rights. Mayor Adams has said the City will consult with the DOJ when collective bargaining is impacted.
The fairness hearing will focus on whether the agreement is a just resolution to the problems identified in the Department of Justice report, released September 2012. After a 15-month investigation the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice concluded that Portland Police Bureau, “engages in a pattern or practice of using unnecessary or unreasonable force during interactions with people who have or are perceived to have mental illness.”
The City of Portland and Portland Police Bureau have never accepted the conclusions in the report: that the bureau violated the rights of citizens, by using excessive force. But to avoid penalties the City and the DOJ worked on a settlement agreement that was filed Dec. 17, along with the DOJ lawsuit outlining the civil rights violations.
The Department of Justice did not investigate PPB’s track record with African Americans and other minorities, but the report noted the "tense" relationship between police and minority communities as well as concerns voiced by community members,