Put Police Accountability in the City Charter

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Occupy Portland rocked City Hall in December, testifying about police misconduct when City Council didn't want it in the public record.

At set times The People are asked whether to amend the city's governing constitution (charter). A Charter Review Commission (CRC) has been formed and some of your friends are on it. They want to hear from you about changes in the way Portland polices us.

Changes this group proposes will be forwarded to an upcoming ballot so voters will decide whether they should be adopted. Unlike the recent work of the Stakeholder's Group, no one from City Council has any say on whether charter amendments go to voters.

After the Mayor tried to silence Occupy Portland testimony in City Council, he's been wanting CRC to quit work even before proposing the utility board he's interested in. Some on the CRC would like to hear your proposals to strengthen independent, citizen oversight of the Portland Police Bureau.

Enshrining the office of the Citizen Review Committee (CRC*) in the City Charter would mean that the votes of only 3 city council members will no longer be sufficient to do away with that body.

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Portland has spent nearly $7,000,000 to settle the top 25 lawsuits brought against it for police misdonduct.

The Police Bureau are under investigation by the nation's Department of Justice, looking for patterns and practices of civil rights abuses. Good governance requires the public now engage in overseeing this bureau's activity.

Portland's "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR) was established in 2001 and given authority to conduct investigations separately from the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs (IA) unit.

Yet, NO SUCH INVESTIGATION HAS EVER HAPPENED.

In March, 2010, the IPR was given broader authority to review IA investigations, but The People's 9-member Citizen Review Committee (CRC) was told to wait before they receive more power.

A group of citizens, police, and city officials met for four months and, in December 2010, 'The Stakeholders' presented the least controversial 41 of over 150 total recommendations for change to City Council.

One year later City Council met. Instead of empowering civilian oversight they may have actually reduced the ability of citizens to discover and correct police misconduct.

CRC's tagline is "community oversight of the police bureau." It is not "simply signing off on police reports about their own misconduct." We need to demand structured change. Once we get this document amended, we can begin work on the U.S. Constitution!