The Portland City Council last night approved Commissioner Randy Leonard and City Auditor Yvonne Griffin-Valade's proposal to tighten civilian oversight of the police bureau.
The proposal established a new oversight board and would give the Independent Police Review Committee director subpoena power to compel witness testimony in investigating complaints against police officers; would require her to evaluate internal affairs investigations; and would also reaffirm the IPR director's power to hold an independent investigation; among other things.
Watch a video podcast of the meeting from home on your computer here: http://www.portlandonline.com/index.cfm?c=28258
A lot has happened since the first City Council hearing on a police review board was held about two weeks ago.
The second fatal police shooting this year was March 22, when Officer Jason Walters shot and killed Jack Collins, 58, when Collins advanced on him with a razor knife.
Collins had, 11 days before his death, tried to have himself arrested at a local precinct by confessing to a crime that could not be verified. A police report released to the media indicated he asked for mental health assistance, the officer in charge gave him information about health services at a local facility, and Collins left the police department.
The first fatal police action this year, Jan. 29, was the shooting of Aaron Campbell, 25, who died from an AR-15 shotgun blast to his back after an acquaintance called 9-1-1 to report a suicidal man with a gun. No weapon was found on or near his body.
Meanwhile, the police officers' union suffered an estimated $20,000 in damage early Tuesday morning, according to Portland Police Association President Scott Westerman, hours after a few hundred black-clad demonstrators protested against the police in downtown Portland.
Eight protestors were injured in that melee, which police say resulted in three injured officers and smashed windows at the Bank of America on Southwest Fifth Avenue.
It was the fifth public demonstration against police violence in the past five weeks, including two "anarchist" street actions, a Palm Sunday procession to death sites of police-involved violence, a downtown march from Pioneer Square to Portland State University against the shooting of Aaron Campbell, and a Justice Center demonstration by members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Social Justice Committee.
Kroger Calls It
At an address to community leaders about civil rights enforcement Feb. 18 at Portland State University, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's criticism of police accountability was prophetic.
"Someone asked me today – are people mad about this because of the incident itself, or because it's the process of a long number of incidents over many years? And the answer I gave is actually, people aren't mad yet," Kroger said. "We're going to see the city explode in the next incident. I mean that is definite."
Currently the Campbell case is under preliminary investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI. In a separate case, PCC student Delease Carter has filed a tort claim against the City of Portland in the Jan. 28 police incident where she and two friends where stopped by police ostensibly for walking in the middle of a deserted street at night.
Carter was thrown to the ground, handcuffed, placed in a patrol car, then released without charges.
In another separate case, the City of Portland has retained three outside attorneys – including Fox TV and MSNBC legal commentator Anne Bremner -- to argue on its behalf in the James Chasse Jr. case, in which officers in 2006 allegedly inflicted fatal blunt force trauma injuries to a schizophrenic man they accused of public urination.
That case is now expected to go to court in June.