|Policing in Portland
An unarmed person was killed by a policeman during each of the past two years. In each case the policeman was Anglo and the person killed was an ethnic minority. These killings are cause for great concern, yet they are also a symptom of a much larger problem with the culture of the Portland Police Bureau.
Oscar Eason, regional NAACP president, said that Portland "was the most troubling city in the U.S. at present when it comes to police relations with its African-American community...."
"[Police] Chief Foxworth said Friday that while he believes a federal probe of the Police Bureau would be redundant given other recent and current community reviews of police operations, he does share the concerns expressed by NAACP leaders about minorities in Portland fearing officers."
If residents fear police, it makes a community less safe. Good intelligence on harmful behavior can only be gained from residents that trust and confide in the police. In fact, the more people confide in police, the greater the safety for all of us--unless police use, or are thought to use, information in a racist manner.
The problems with the Portland police culture, which are more than racism, are as follows:
Police failing to follow procedures that minimize incidents. If police had followed the policies recommended in the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Committee Report, any of the above three incidents would not have resulted in a fatal shooting. As mayor, Dr. Adams will ensure that the Portland Police Bureau adopts and implements the recommendations of the AMA report.
Portland police training needs to be at least doubled. The national recommendation is for at least 23 weeks of training. Portland only requires 10 weeks. The mayor of Portland, as the Police Commissioner, is directly responsible for ensuring that only properly trained police are allowed access to lethal force.
Over twice as many African Americans are stopped for questioning by police compared to Anglos. This strongly suggests racial profiling.
Police have used "military style" procedures to clear crowds from areas when no threat of violence was present.
Portland has no jail, only a holding area. If a jail is needed, the Multnomah facilities are used, under the supervision of Multnomah corrections officers. Portland police, therefore, are trained and supervised almost entirely for enforcement rather corrections. Why is this a problem?
Corrections officers learn mediation skills. They learn to defuse tense situations if they are to thrive as corrections officers--this what keeps them and the inmates safe. Enforcement officers, on the other hand, do not necessarily learn these skills. Enforcement officers are more oriented toward handling situations requiring force; they practice use of force rather than use of mediation.
The overall picture is of a police department that is out of step with the residents of Portland. The objective of the mayor needs to be to change the culture of the police so it fits the needs of Portland residents. The question is "how?" Dr. Adams presents the following steps for an effective and trusted police bureau:
All police staff will be tested on a valid, standardized assessment for cultural competence each year. Those gaining low scores will be required to enter training until they gain adequate scores. They will also be monitored by video camera when dealing with the public and given feedback on their performance. If they do not gain a satisfactory level of competence within the first year, they will be suspended from direct work with the public. No person within the police force with a failing score will carry a lethal weapon.
The unfilled police positions will be filled as a very high priority for the city. The minimum period of training will be raised from 10 weeks to 23 weeks and will include cultural competence training, as well as the new policies that will be adopted from the Albina Ministerial Alliance Committee Report. No recruit will be placed on the "front line" working with the public until he or she has been assessed as competent culturally as well as in skills and knowledge regarding police work and policies.
We will work out an agreement with Multnomah County police so that new recruits and experienced police with no corrections experience will work in corrections long enough to gain good mediation skills--or be determined not suitable for enforcement.
Annual minimum training will be boosted to 40 hours.
Police performance will be monitored through live video of incidents and officers going "beyond the call of duty" to be helpful to the public will gain recognitions and commendations.
Officers violating policies will be terminated from the Bureau.
Officers failing to be professional and respectful of ALL of the public will be terminated from the Bureau.
Neighborhoods will routinely be patrolled by foot or bikes during day time; emphasis will be on gathering intelligence from neighbors so that security is improved.
The Citizen Review Board will be made independent of City Hall. Currently, the Board reports to the Auditor. As Mayor, Dr. Adams will work to have the Board report to an independent three-judge panel.
A "report card" on the performance of the Bureau will be developed and shared with the public. Part of the performance will include number of persons injured due to police activities; proportion of minorities that are pursued; and an assessment by minorities regarding how they were treated by police.
Watch for television version of KPSU interview on cable.
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 30 TV 9:30pm
Presentation on Channel 22 TV 7-7:30pm.
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 11 TV 8:00pm
K-Lite 106.7 Radio spots at various times
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 30 TV 8:30am & Channel 21 TV 11pm
Mayor's Forum MCTV 7-8pm
Presentation on Channel 23 TV 9:30-10pm
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 23 TV 12 noon & Channel 30 TV 7pm
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 22 TV 12 noon & Channel 30 TV 7pm
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 30 TV 3:30pm
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 23 TV 12 midnight, Channel 21 TV 3pm, Channel 30 TV 9:30pm & Channel 21 TV 11pm
"Discussion For Change" on Channel 30 TV 12 noon
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