A message from our friends at Portland Copwatch
Wednesday morning, Feb. 29, there are several items on the City Council’s agenda that affect police accountability issues.
Primarily, I call your attention to item 184, which extends the terms of 8 members of the Charter Review Commission for _two days_, from March 3 to March 5. I’m not sure where this leaves the other 9-10 (2 or 3 of the original 20 have left already), but the point is:
If City Council is going to vote to extend the terms of the Charter Commissioners, they should extend them until the end of June.
That is the latest time they can present items for the fall ballot and fit within the guidelines directing their ability to put possible changes to the City’s “Constitution.”
Why is this important? On Wednesday, at the second public hearing on Police Accountability amendments, several things happened:
1) The Citizens Crime Commission and Portland Business Alliance came out against banning horses and pepper spray in crowd control (again), but stressed that more time was needed to interview the police and other stakeholders before going to the ballot;
2) members of the Charter Commission began thinking of ways to modify their proposed language on horses and pepper spray, which would likely need more time to go through the City Attorney’s office;
3) because the language we proposed about putting a police oversight system into the charter was not returned from the City Attorney’s office yet, one Charter Commissioner apologized for not getting to the issue sooner and said he would consider bypassing the two public forums/one week comment period and vote on the issue “as an act of civil disobedience.” That’s pretty big.
So, I’m going to suggest to Council that they extend the time of the Charter Commission past the March 5 date now proposed. I hope other people consider coming to Council Wednesday morning or contacting them between now and then (contact info is below).
Meanwhile… also on the agenda is a renewed contract for solo practitioner Dr. David Corey to be the police psychologist for another 5 years. This comes despite the fact that the AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform repeatedly urged the Mayor and Chief to use a culturally diverse panel of psychologists (Corey is white and practices in Lake Oswego). The Mayor’s office never informed the AMA that the job posting had gone out, nor that candidates were being interviewed for the job. Shameful.
Finally, back again for the third time is a contract between the Portland Police Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service, which gives them access to a detective full-time and asks that they pay her overtime up to $16,000 per year. We pulled this agreement off the consent agenda last August (when there was no financial element) to point out that any collaboration between the PPB and a federal agency is controversial, and it should not be approved by Council without public discussion. At that time, Commissioner Fritz said that because it was a long-standing task force, it was indeed, as the Chief put it in his notes, “routine.” However, Assistant Chief Hendricks testified last Wednesday that the IRS/PPB task force has been operating since 2009 but _this is the first time it’s been formalized._ So it is by no means “routine.”
Commissioner Leonard called into question the devoting of a full time detective to financial crimes when 4% to 8% budget cuts are looming on the horizon. Hendricks (or maybe it was head of Detectives Ed Brumfield) said that the Bureau gains the aid of federal agents, other police agencies, and access to forfeited money because of the task force.
I testified that even though there are provisions for the PPB to stay within Oregon laws (the 181 laws which supposedly also guide the JTTF), there is no mechanism for oversight, and I also wondered whether Oregon’s forfeiture laws being different from federal laws would cause complications.
One of the biggest pieces of information that came out is that the Bureau has tucked away some $760,000 from federal seizures which they don’t report to Council as part of their budget (!) and which they used to spend on a K-9 German Shepherd and $25,000 on an airplane. Amazing.
Leonard insisted that the IRS be asked to reimburse for the regular salary and benefits of the PPB detective… I’m not sure that is going to fly, but we shall see.
I know many people will be out and about shutting down corporations with Occupy on the 29th, and perhaps some of you will be going to the 2 PM hearing on the Joint Terrorism Task Force reports, so, at the very least, if you want to contact Council about extending the Charter Commission past March 5 and until the end of June, here’s the contact information:
Snail mail: 1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland OR 97204
Commissioner Dan Saltzman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Room 230 Phone: (503) 823-4151
Commissioner Amanda Fritz <email@example.com>
Room 220 Phone: (503) 823-3008
Commissioner Nick Fish <Nick@portlandoregon.gov>
Room 240 Phone: (503) 823-3589
Commissioner Randy Leonard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Room 210 Phone: (503) 823-4682
Mayor Sam Adams <email@example.com>
Room 340 Phone: (503) 823-4120